Paul’s Pantry, “LOL”

A good days baking, I got up this morning itching to get started on making some Malted brown loaves, having received the malted flour and fresh bakers yeast yesterday. So I used a general bread recipe I.e. :

700g strong plain bread flour, 300g malted brown bread flour, 20g salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, 20g fresh yeast and approx 650grams of water.

Basically mix all the above ingredients together, I use a machine to do most of it because my hand hurt with to much kneading, then I turn the dough out onto my work surface and knead a little, then put it back into a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to prove.

Malted bread dough.
Covered malted bread dough
 
After about one hour of proving I put the dough onto my work surface, divide into three, gently fold each piece in on itself forming a tight ball or long baton trapping air into the folds and then putting each peice into a floured bread basket to prove again, cover and leave approx 1 more hour.

After an hour has passed and the dough has doubled in size, I turn the dough out onto a pre-heated baking tray and score the top of each loaf with a sharp blade, then bake for approx 40-45mins in a hot oven approximately 200c.

First two out
All three now done
 

These turned out beautifully can’t wait to taste them, but what shall we have with it? Well I’ve been fancying a Quiche, so that’s what we will have. Now I watch all these food programs that give all these rules I.e, you must use a certain flour, or you must blind bake the case first etc…. well I worked in catering from boy to man at a high level and if we followed all those rules then half the jobs would never get done. So this is a recipe that has always served me well, I’ve had complements wether it’s served as a luncheon, a bar snack, a buffet or starter, it always goes done well.

The pastry is an alrounder, in other words you can use it for anything, if it’s for a sweet dish then I leave out the salt but add 4 oz of caster sugar, it’s easy and quick to make. So obviously Quiche is savoury so this is our pastry recipe:

1 lb Self Raiseing Flour, 8 oz Butter or Margerine, pinch of salt, and approx 1/3rd of a pint of water. Now put the flour and salt into a bowl rub in the butter/margarine, then gradually add enough water to bring it all together into a ball, you can now refrigerate the pastry whilst you prepare the other ingredients
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Flour, butter & salt.
Fat rubbed in.
Finished pastry dough
 

I’m making one red onion quiche, and two leek & courgette quiches, so my ingredients are 20 oz Chedder cheese, 12 eggs, 1/2pt milk, and for the toppings, 1 red onion, 1 leek, and 1 courgette, also a little oil/butter/margarine just for cooking.
I start by peeling the red onion and cutting it in half and slicing it thinly, I put that to gently cook in a little oil or butter to soften the onions, then remove and cool, then I grate the courgette and wash and prepare the leek before finely chopping it and again cooking in a little oil or butter before leaving to cool. Now grate all the Chedder cheese,  break the eggs into a jug and beat with the milk, then everything is ready to put together.
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The filling ingredients.
Sliced red onion
Onion & leek.
Cooked red onion.
Cooked red onion.
Grated Cheddar Cheese.
 
Now that we have all our ingredients prepared, I divide the pastry into three, I then roll out each peice to line three quiche dishes, one 9 inch one 8 inch and one 7 inch, they are just the dishes I have as my wife accidentally broke my nice glass one, but you could use one big dish or two medium size ones really what ever you have got.
 
dishes I inherited from my parents.
Lined dishes
 

With the dishes now lined, divide the grated cheese between them, top two the leek & courgette and one with the red onion, then season with salt and pepper and then pour on the milk and egg mix dividing it amongst the three dishes. Now put them on a under tray in case of spillage, and place into the oven I cook at 160c for the first 15-20 minutes just to set the quiche then about 25 minutes at 180c, they will be nice and golden when cooked, remove from the oven and enjoy either hot or cold. You can use any toppings and even use different cheeses just experiment.
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Filling in.
Egg & milk on
Cooked ready to eat.
Red onion
A good days baking.
 

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into my day in the kitchen, I feel inspired to do something else now, “now what can I cook next” lol.

Home baked bread.

My order of fresh bakers yeast arrived today so I just could not resist getting going with baking some loaves, and here is the finished results, very tasty.


I love baking bread it’s so therapeutic, and extremely tasty, I will now be producing all our own bread, and no longer purchase the shop bread, it’s something I enjoy doing, I also want the garden to produce more for us, for preserving. Supporting our own local markets instead of just using the supermarkets, the fruit & Veg is usually local seasonal and not wrapped in all that plastic.

Well it’s just a short blog as it’s been a hectic day, had some tree surgeons turn up who cut down and removed a huge eucalyptus tree that had got out of hand in our garden, now it’s all gone it’s as if someone has opened a window in the garden the extra light is amazing.

Now & Then.

Well my bread starter is all ready now, and not wanting to waste any I used the throw off for making some lovely sourdough naan breads, which will make a great accompaniment for a vegetable curry I have just made up, that’s dinner sorted with enough naan breads to freeze for another day. Tomorrow I will start making some sourdough loaves, I want to plan to bake once or twice a week, so I can freeze a couple of loaves, I will take some photos when I get them out of the oven. Sourdough bread is an amazing product and you can make fabulous cheese on toast with it, great too used to top a home made French onion soup, it’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

Sourdough naan breads.

I don’t know why I am so fearful and panicky about leaving the house or going away, and trying something new to do? why do I have to have a meltdown about these things? When I think back to how I was running busy kitchens, I could run extensive menus sometimes even on my own and most of the time with just my wife and I. At one particular restaurant I had an a’la carter menu with 36 main course dishes on it, plus starters and deserts and a daily menu with about 20 dishes of the day, freshly caught fish etc…and all cooked to order, I particularly excelled at fish, but I was just as enthusiastic about any of the kitchen sections, and had a good reputation in south Devon and was head hunted by many a restaurant/hotel. I could walk in and take over any struggling kitchen and turn it around, and I sometimes long for that life still, I was good a what I did – but now I am a shadow of that person, and I want my old self back, even a bit of the old me would be an immense difference.

Though I enjoyed all the sections of the kitchen, my biggest love would have to be buffet work, there is nothing more frilling than preparing a buffet and receiving the praise as the customers ask how you managed to prepare such masterpieces.

My early memories of buffet work was watching my father preparing dishes for the gastronomic festival in south Devon, at a place called the Marine spare in the late 1960s I think it was then that I really decided that I wanted to be a chef. My father always entered the fish section with salmon garnished with truffles and set in aspic jelly, but It was when he developed a pastry that you could use for sculpture work that he became well known for, appearing in the local papers with a large article “a working chef at Christmas” also westward TV did a program on him and his pastry work. Yes my father was a great inspiration to me!

Salmon entered into the gastronomic festival approx: 1969
Clown made from pastry.
 

Done it.

 

I made it out yesterday, and I actually walked around B&Q and the Range, we had a good shop and bought several plants for the new raised beds, also bought some paint to decorate the new study now that we have had the French windows put in, so all in all a good day. I was a little stressed out the day before, thinking of going out but as I new the shops it was not to bad. The only thing now is I can hardly move all my joints are hurting, guess it’s the most exercise I’ve done for a long time. Caz has put the plants into the bed, I managed to plant two, and put in some seeds, it all looks great I’m very pleased with what we achieved, thanks to Caz.I have also started a new batch of sourdough bread starter, I’m going to get back to making all our own bread again, it’s much nicer, but I also don’t want to be eating so much bread and so it is part of my plan for changing our lifestyle, by eating less processed foods and making it as fresh as you can, so we shall see how that progresses on.

It’s great now that we have the French windows in, it brings the house and garden much more together, and that’s important to me, being able to just step out into the garden, or sit with the doors open but still feel part of the garden, it’s lovely. We have a deep red rose in the garden, it’s one we brought with us when we moved here I guess it must be over 20 years old, we know it as our Aunty Babs rose as it was bought for us by my much loved and very much now missed aunty Babs. The scent from the rose just fills the garden and will now hopefully also fill the house, it flowers all summer long and is the heart of our garden, a very treasured plant.

I also love photography and would love to be able to get out more and to do more of it, when we first moved here I was able to get about more and took some beautiful shots of this amazing island. I have just sold my Dslr camera because I was not using it, but also because I find it difficult to cope with the weight and all the lenses that go with it, so I bought both myself and Caz a Canon Powershot G5x camera, it’s a lovely little camera and easy to transport, and has wifi which is great for blogging, I still have my older Nikon D7000 and some lenses it’s a great camera too but not so portable for me, walking with a stick and sometimes crutches makes carrying a Dslr difficult. Well I’ll have to post some of my photography soon for you to see hopefully you’ll like them. I feeling less stressed at the moment as we have now decided not to take another trip away this coming weekend, though inside I know we will be soon, but it takes the pressure off for now, I really want to be able to just get up and go away at a drop of the hat, but it’s so difficult and stressful I sometimes wonder is it all worth it. Hope you all have a great day and achieve all you want to……

The Plants that we bought.
Planted up.
From the other side
Aunty Babs Rose

Jam, scones & health plan

 

Well the jam turned out great, and I must say gooseberry jam is now my all time favourite jam, and of course I didn’t just make the jam I also made scones too, now I just need to get to the shops for some clotted cream lol. Its great using fresh produce from your own garden to make your own preserves, its extremely therapeutic, I must get back to making our own bread another therapeutic and tasty task, and you can’t beat home made sourdough bread. I want to devise a new healthy menu for my wife and I, we have been vegetarian for some 14 years now, but I feel our diet could be a lot healthier which may or may not help with some of my health issues.I have been diagnosed with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) which does worry me as my father developed vascular dementia, but I mustn’t get worrying about things that might not come to pass, I have enough issues to tackle as it is. So hopefully a change of diet will help some of these ailments, I want to try to get some exercise going too obviously I have had issues moving around with my legs being so large, but now with the help of my Farrow Wraps, my legs are a lot smaller so I need to get walking more, I now have an activity tracker and hopefully I can set some goals a steadily up my activity. As for our diet I want to make it as free from processed food as possible and as much as I can make everything fresh (home made).

I must say I loved my career as a chef, though I feel today I have probably forgotten a lot of what I used to know, but I still enjoy cooking, and sometimes long for that life of running a kitchen, till my body tells me not to even think about it, lymphoedema can really suck! Somedays it feels as if both your legs have been plunged into boiling oil, thank God though it’s not every day that it’s like that. It was about two years ago now that I had a open wound start on the back of my left leg which just got bigger and bigger, it becoming infected and would not heal, it all seemed never ending and I was about as low as one can get, but they did heal and the Farrow Wraps now stop my legs from swelling and splitting again, then last July 2016, I started to feel a little unwell, went for a lie down, woke up feeling worse, couldn’t stop shaking, my wife and daughter called an ambulance and I was rushed into hospital, turned out to be sepsis terrifying how quickly it started and went out of control, I spent a week in hospital and don’t ever want to experience that again.

Today we are off to the garden centre if I can do it, To get a few things for the garden, not sure quite what yet but we shall see and I’ll let you know. Well I’m not sure how I’m doing as a blogger, I’m getting a few followers, and views which is great, it’s all still a bit new but I’m learning fast, not to sure what the difference between a viewer and a visitor is, but your are all welcome lol.

Gooseberry jam

Gooseberry jam & scones

Gooseberries & mind games.

 

Well we picked 3lb of gooseberries yesterday, not a huge amount but enough to make some jam, it’s a job to time picking any fruit in our garden, as I have said before it’s very much a cottage/wildlife garden, and the wildlife seem to get their fair share of the bounty, but that’s the way it should be we all have to live, and at this time of year the are all trying to feed their young, and it’s lovely to be able to see all thous young fledglings in the garden. So my first job today after posting this blog is jam making, and I shall post a photo of the finished produce, have our scones ready lol.

I have been starting to feel stressed today, and I know the feeling will grow completely out of control as the week goes on, I felt at ease when we returned from our long weekend break last weekend, testing out our new eriba caravan we really love it, it’s very retro and comfortable, and having achieve our first get away I was now ok that we were back home, I could relax again and enjoy looking at the photos from the weekend, really like looking at the for the first time as if I had not been there and I was looking at someone else’s adventure, I was now safe at home. Then today the subject arose about going on another trip, and right away I can feel the tension inside, I want to curl up into a ball and hide away, I could shake myself, tell myself how daft I am “I’m 62 in a couple of weeks” why do I have to be like this, why can’t I just be like others? I will try and fill my thoughts with other stuff, but it will just be there all the time, tapping me on the shoulder when I let my guard down, I want to tackle this but honestly I don’t know if I can! I have great support from my family but it’s so difficult to open up and put things into words, especially when your supposed to be the head of your family. It breaks my heart when my we get to the shops and my wife or daughter ask if I am coming into the shops, and I say no, then the little voice of my 4 year old granddaughter says “come on grandad, please!” The mind is so very complicated, but a day a a time that’s all I can do.

On a lighter note I’ll share a story of when I was an apprentice chef, training under my father. It was a very busy kitchen in a seaside three star hotel, I was about 16 at the time and most of us were smokers then, so every now and then we would say “just off to the toilet chef” and my father who was the head chef would say don’t be to long, knowing that we were really just going for a cigarette. My father had a funny side to him and loved a joke, we had all been caught by him, he would wait for us to enter the outside toilet that was in the passage leading to the garage, the toilet had a gape above and under the door, and as soon as he saw a puff of smoke come over the top he would throw a full bucket of ice cold water over the top, you can imagine the shock lol.

So one day we all planed our revenge, and it was not long before we had our chance, my father headed off to the toilet, and we all filled our buckets and marched outside, the light went on so we all let loose our buckets of ice cold water…… the screams and shouts from within were not that of my father, oh no! What had we done? We all ran back into the kitchen where we each kept our heads down and got on with our work, but each one of us kept an eye on the door to see who would come in. To our horror the door opened and a raging head porter in his top hat and tails came in drenched demanding to know who had done this to him, no one uttered a word, there were some muffled sniggers, but when he left to get change my father returned, he could hardly stand up, and there were tears of laughter coming down his face – yes he had set us up really good, he had suspected what we were up to, no one but him had notice the head porter head for the toilets we were to busy watching my dad, he then followed the head porter but instead of going to the toilets had run into the garage where he watched the whole thing unfold, it’s laughable now but we were bricking it at the time.

Just thought that may lighten your day, I post pics of the gooseberry jam later..

Gooseberries

Our Garden

 

The garden! I love our garden, I don’t do much in the garden Caz is the gardener and she is very good at tending it. The style of are garden is that of a cottage/wildlife garden, and when talking about my anxiety, phobia, lymphoedema or any other of my ailments it is the garden that will ease all thous issues, the garden is a very healing place, there is nothing better than sitting in the garden breathing in the fresh air, with all the nature around you, then closing your eyes and becoming aware of all the sounds of the garden, it is at this point you can drift into a wonderful meditation, breathing in all that energy in the garden and allowing that energy to fill your body and heal, it calms and energies you.Yes the garden is a wonderful place, and over the last few days we have had the window fitters in and we now have French window out of the back of the house allowing more access to the garden and making the garden and the house one, it’s wonderful.

Now I said Caz does the gardening and I said she is good, well a few years ago we entered the wildlife garden competition and the first year we came third, Bronze, the second year we came second, silver, then we missed a year and when we entered the following year, well we got first, yes GOLD, plus best in class, it was amazing and Caz deserved it for all her hard work. And whilst we are on the subject of Caz, not only is she an amazing gardener, but she is an amazing carer, and is always there when I need her, and no one understands me as she does, she is my sole mate, and I can’t thank her enough.

Our Tilly loves the garden too, she loves rooting around and she loves it when the grandchildren come, being a Lancashire Heeler she just loves herding them up, they all have so much energy and a day in the garden sees them all sleep well at night. Our granddaughter just loves picking strawberries, raspberries – peas and just about any fruit or vegetable and eating it there and then in the garden, you can’t have your food any healthier than that.

I love watching all the different birds that visit the garden, and was so please last year when I took photos of newly fledged Gold Crests absolutely beautiful, then we have all the butterflies and a few years ago the humming bird hawk moth, incredible to watch. We have newts, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, rabbits the list goes on, all these things lift your heart, and gives life a true meaning, I would be happy to spend all the rest of my days just in our garden, if only I could!

So yes the garden is probably the most important part of our house, If you are religious, and I believe I am then it is your church and if God is anywhere then he will definitely be there.

Well that is a little extract about our garden, and from time to time I’ll post some photos of how things are going, if you have a garden then why not go into it today and have a meditate and enjoy the peace.

The new French windows

Entering the garden

Anxiety 

 

Anxiety! I guess it effects everyone in different ways but for me it’s like drowning, I gasp for Air my legs are like jelly, and I’m just filled with panic, and it seems the more you try to think it out, to try and see how silly it is to be like this, then the worse it all becomes, as if your overthinking things, all reasoning goes out the window and I’m just sinking, it’s best not to think at all, but how do you achieve that? I enjoy meditation though I don’t do it enough, but I should do it more, and will definitely try to do more.When we are going anywhere, like away in the eriba caravan, or hospital appointments or a family gathering then I will be worrying weeks before, it’s crippling I find it hard to concentrate on anything else, and my days just pass from one to another just sitting worrying, if I try to do anything else I am soon back to worrying, then before I know it it’s time to go, and everything comes to a head. On a good day, I find it hard to concentrate on more than one thing, for instance if I’m into playing my guitar then wouldn’t be able to then go and do some photography or any of the other thing I enjoy, I can only cope with one thing and that will carry on until I’m into something else then everything else will be on hold? I know it’s confusing.

I would love to be free from all this, but it’s just the tip of it all, the phobia of leaving home going out anywhere, I’ll only go to the shops early in the morning when they are quite, and even then I probably won’t go in, Caz does the shopping on her own. My head is filled with the thought of people looking at me, talking about me, and what if I do something that will draw attention to me, like fall over etc… and there is so very much more, so difficult to put into words.

These blogs are hopefully going to help, I am trying to turn things around and improve my life I want to tackle my weight, fitness, anxiety, phobias etc… and you can come along with me on all the good and bad times, but I want at the end to have my life back and stop being a prisoner, I want to be able to just jump in the car, hitch up the eriba caravan and head off on adventures, so I hope you stick around for the journey and thanks for listening.

Our Tilly.

 

Today I would like to tell you about our Tilly, she is our little Lancashire heeler and she is gorgeous, very stubborn but a great friend. Now our Tilly believes in democracy, if you tell her to get into her basket and you are in the room with her on your own, then she will obey and get into her basket. However if there is one, two or three more people in the room she will not get into her basket, unless every person asks her to, this is because there might just be one person in the room who might agree with her lol.
When we first got Tilly she was so very small the runt of the litter and when curled up she fitted in the centre of my cupped hands. At the time that she came to us, a ginger tom cat (Tatty) had adopted us, he was a big softy who dribbled and had decided to take up residence in our polly tunnel, when Tilly met him they fell in love and each of them would take their turn every morning to wash and clean the other, then chase each other around the garden, again each one taking the turn of the chaser. Sadly one day Tatty did not come, we later found out that a drunk driver had run him down, it broke all our hearts, but I think mostly Tilly’s.
Tilly loves going on holidays in our eriba caravan, she loves the adventure, we just need to be able to get away more, a goal I need to reach, a phobia I need to defeat. I love it when we manage to get away it’s just the stress before going, panic attacks etc… the fear of leaving the house, sometimes it’s all to much, but we will cover this subject again. I guess poor old Tilly picks up on my feelings and becomes very excitable before leaving, she sometimes drives me up the wall but I would not no what to do if I was to lose her. Any how that’s our Tilly and I’m sure she will pop up now and then as I am blogging.

 

Tilly about one year old.
Tilly & Me holding hands

Life as a chef

 

So I’ve told you a bit about my lymphoedema and how it affects me, the anxiety, phobia and depression, I do have other health issues to which I will talk about with you as we get to know each other lol, but for now I’d like to tell you a little bit about me as a chef, before the lymphoedema ended my career.
Well I left school at the tender age of 15, couldn’t wait to leave, I hated every day of my school life, and can barely remember one happy moment there. I had been going into work with my father who was head chef of a large 3 star seaside hotel, I worked my summer holidays there since about the age of 12, I would also go in with him in the evenings after school, I loved cooking and I loved the environment of the large kitchen brigade, of which my father was boss, and I too one day wanted that position.
So on leaving school I began an apprenticeship under my father and over the following years I progressed through the ranks of chefs to become head patissier (pastry chef) I loved that position, though I still wanted more. My next proper move up was as second chef of a very large four star hotel with a very large brigade of 15-16 chefs and again I flourished but still wanted that head chefs position.
Things sort of went sideways then for a while, when my parents sold their small guesthouse they were running together and bought a restaurant with a café and a guesthouse in mid Devon, we all went into it as a family, my father doing the cooking, mother running the café, my older brother running the bar, my little brother just enjoyed eating in the restaurant at a table for one lol and yes I was now head waiter! It wasn’t a position that I enjoyed but it was great experience. We was at the restaurant for a few years when my parents sold up and my brother went back into architecture and I for a short while became chef at a private school in Shropshire. I was only there for a short while as my mother and I decided to take on a small café in a small Shropshire hillside town, it was lovely and we had a good turnover, built up a good trade, then the landlord decided he wanted a share of the action and put up the rent, so we decided to give that up and I found myself flitting through jobs, back with dad for a while as his second chef, then chef/catering manager of a large Mecca night club, then to be head chef of a newly opened wine bar serving Mediterranean style food it was a great little restaurant and very special as it’s also where I met my lovely wife Caz.
Caz had started work at the restaurant as assistant manager, and we hit it off right away joking with each other and generally pranking about, Caz also acted as my second chef when I got some freelance jobs from Mecca and we would travel to take charge of a kitchen at one of the clubs and cook for large functions of up to 900 – 1000 customers, it paid well but was hard work. It didn’t take me long to pop the question to Caz and for her to accept, though it took about 18 months before we got married, in the meantime we run a fish restaurant in Lymington, then moved to Devon worked in a Greek restaurant, started a couple of catering supply businesses that didn’t really take off, bought a house, got married, now have a wonderful daughter who has her own family, and we have two lovely grandchildren. I worked in my dream job position of head chef I several top hotels in Devon before running a restaurant franchise which was when my lymphoedema started. We now live in a beautiful part of north Wales with amazing bays & beaches and I love the slow pace of life so different to the busy hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen. And thats it for my career, though I have some funny moments I shall share with you as we spend time together. Hope you have a great day!

Below is a photo of me and my father, I was about 14 years old, seems like yesterday, I miss him so very much.