• It may have all been worthwhile after all

    This is going to have to be a quick update as my computer has been on the blink for a while.  The ‘s’, ‘x’, ‘w’ and ‘2’ keys have been temperamental i.e. sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t which makes blogging and other computer related activities a little difficult to say the least.  Jo is off to return it to John Lewis this evening, hopefully to get it exchanged with a more reliable one, while I relax at the hairdressers getting my long overdue roots done.

    Last week was my longest working week to date – 55.84 hours to be exact.  This is partly because the café is very busy at the moment, but also because the Head Chef was away for five days and I, along with a colleague, had to hold fort.  We got through the five days (two of which I was on my own) relatively unscathed and with no major customer complaints.  Other than overordering on chocolate, the Head Chef didn’t have anything negative to say about my holding of the fort.  In fact, he suggested that he had heard the following: ‘I’ve heard that you and Charlotte did a very good job’.  Despite my long week, I still managed to run 23 plus miles towards the 1000 Miles Challenge, but I can’t say it was or is easy keeping up with the running.  Any other training is firmly out of the window at the moment.  Hopefully, when Jo manages to collect the rig from Mat we will be able to train a bit more.  Despite the lack of training, we are doing our first obstacle course for a while, the Monster Race, the weekend after next.  We are not in a competitive wave, which is good, as I think we will have to find our OCR mojo again.

    Other than the above, I continued to experiment with a number of new recipes – some more successful than others: feta and parsley borek; ‘smoky’ aubergines with lemon and garlic dressing; honey roasted butternut squash, cranberry and feta salad (all but one portion sold before it went up on the board – sold to a camera crew who were filming in the area), frangipane and pear finger etc.

    There are a few customers who come back time and time for my salads, which is very rewarding.   I have made The Mountain Café, baked caramel nut slice for customers a couple of times as well and I have customers coming in asking for it, which is also very rewarding.  But possibly what has been most rewarding was a comment from a customer who came up to me during the Sunday lunch service, thanking me for the porridge and kedgeree which he had obviously enjoyed.  All of this positivity has inspired the title of this week’s blog ‘It may have all been worthwhile after all’ as when I made my decision to quit my HR Director role it was largely motivated by a desire to move away from a job which brought misery to many people (disciplining and exiting people) to a job which brought pleasure to people.  Seeing people enjoy the food that you make for them is very rewarding indeed.  Despite the long hours and a few teething problems along the way (I am sure there will be more) I am so glad I made the decision to leave HR for a ‘career’ in the food industry.  Let’s hope I continue to feel this way.

  • Customising one’s thumb

    Okay, so it has been a while since I wrote. That exhaustion I spoke about set in even further and I haven’t had the energy to write anything.  Since I last wrote, things have been a lot better at work.  I have had an opportunity to discuss what went wrong on that fateful Saturday; I have been doing a lot more prep work and on top of that I have had interest shown in me by a pub and a very reputable hotel, following inquiries after that Saturday.

    That being said, the last two weeks have been a bit of a whirl wind and I can only remember a few bits and pieces.    Possibly, the most eventful parts of the last two weeks are as follows:

    1) On Tuesday last week, I was cutting mushrooms for the Porto melt when I was a little too exuberant with a new Kitchen Devil and sliced off an angled portion of my left thumb.  A rather neat cut if I say so myself but best on vegetables rather than left thumbs.   I was turned away from the local pharmacy and then again from the local surgery and was told by both to go to A&E.  I have to say that the local pharmacy was very helpful.  I cannot say the same for the local surgery.  Without examining my blood dripping, tissue covered hand, I was told that they couldn’t help me a) because I wasn’t registered with them and b) because they didn’t do stitches.  Not even inquiring if I had a way of getting to A&E, I left the surgery and made it around to my sister, Gilly, who was fortunately at home and took me to A&E. My poor nephew had to abandon a trip to indoor golf, temporarily to take his injured aunt to A&E. Lucky for me it was a quiet day in A&E and it wasn’t long before my thumb was seen to and I was sent on my merry way.  I was back at work in time for lunch service, with my slightly smaller thumb neatly tucked away under a lovely blue latex glove.  After a few days covered in the blue latex glove, you will be glad to hear that my thumb is well on the mend and there is now little evidence of the wound, just a slightly asymmetrical thumb in its place.

    2) On Thursday this week around 9 am, there was a rather gruesome accident outside the café where a woman on a bicycle was knocked down and run over by a truck.  It was the talk of the village most of the day.  The café helped out by providing drinks for the emergency service people and local heroes, as well as CCTV footage and warm water to wash away the evidence of the incident.

    3) Being located in the Cotswolds, we have a few celebrity customers, who I have had an opportunity to cook for.  It is quite odd seeing musicians and TV stars in the café but at the end of the day they are customers like anyone else, looking for a hot or cold drink and something nice to eat.

    4) The last two weeks have been doing food long ones – 50 plus hours a week, balancing cooking for customers directly, food preparation and coming up with ideas for lunch time specials i.e. soup, flat bread and salad.  Our Head Chef is very into flat bread at the moment, so I have had to master the art of flat bread making. To be honest I quite enjoy making them.  I have also found a way to make them more uniform and round. I should elaborate by saying that while I enjoy making the flat breads themselves, coming up with ideas for toppings has been a little more difficult, especially considering that the Head Chef is a whizz at coming up with brilliant topping ideas.  He is a very hard act to follow.

    Hopefully I can share the recipe for the flat breads with you:

    500g plain flour
    30g butter
    10g yeast
    10g salt
    300ml water

    Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead for 5 minutes.  Leave to prove in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size.  Knock back the dough and then divide the dough into 8-10 evenly sized portion.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface into thin rounds and then cook in a pan/griddle pan on both sides until cooked (starts to take on some colour).  The flat breads can be cooked in advance and then heated briefly before serving.

    On that note, I am going to sign out as despite this being my day off, I am fading fast and need to get ready for bed before I fall asleep with Montague on the sofa.