• One door shuts and another door opens

    This week was a busy week at the Coln Community Stores as one of my colleagues is on a much deserved holiday abroad.

    Rather than just doing four days, I am doing six and five out of the six started at 5.30 am.  Monday through to Wednesday, the early starts were fine, but by Thursday early starts on about five and a half hours sleep were starting to get to me.  After a short shift on Thursday (5.30 am to 11 am, albeit that I should have finished at 10 am if there hadn’t been an impromptu sandwich making requirement) I decided that I was going to have a nap before I started the daily chores.  After a quick cup of tea and a snack, I fell asleep only to wake up less than an hour later feeling decided disorientated.  With the sun streaming through the curtained windows, despite heavy duty lining, my first thought was that I had forgotten to set the alarm and was now late for my morning shift at the Stores.  With panic coarsing through my veins, the fog of an afternoon sleep began to dissipate and I realised that I had indeed fallen asleep after and not before I had completed my morning shift.  Calmed by a cup of Yorkshire tea, I began some mundane domestic tasks as well as tried to focus on some of the tasks which I had started but had not yet finished.

    Given that I was working to a ‘to do’ list, I will share my ‘to do’ list with you:

    1. Send Jo a copy of my birthday list i.e. a list of presents which I am hoping to receive from family members on my next birthday (helpful, rather than greedy hints, I hope) – PS he did ask me to send them to him.
    2. Finish the proposal for the Coln Community Stores cafe i.e. something which the manager asked me to put together in advance of the next Committee meeting.  You will be glad to hear that I completed and send this to my manager yesterday.
    3. Complete overtime sheet for Coln Community Stores.
    4. Send Rob, the owner of Lynwood & Co some of the ideas I had (some time ago) about diversifying Lynwood & Co’s offering.
    5. Put together some meal ideas for an elderly couple who are looking for someone to cook for them on a regular basis.

    Although all of my ‘to do’ list items could be expanded upon, the two which best highlight the title of my blog are no. 4 and 5.

    With reference to no. 4, Rob’s response to my ideas was very positive and I was glad to hear that he had similar thoughts and in fact was already implementing some of them unbeknownst to me – I am very much out of the loop at Lynwood & Co. since I went part time and even more so now that I am on a leave of absence.  A leave of absence which may be permanent, but which at this stage I am not sure.  Anyway, on the back of this, he rang me yesterday and asked me whether I would work with him in coming up with a fruit loaf for Lynwood & Co’s collaboration with Stay Cotswolds.  A collaboration in which Lynwood & Co provides a welcome gift of sourdough bread, granola and coffee.  They want to extend this gift to include a fruit loaf.  As I type this blog my first attempt at a fruit loaf for this venture is cooling in the kitchen.  It smells delicious.  Let’s hope it tastes delicious.  I am just waiting for it to cool enough to cut a slice to test.  Depending on the outcome, I might be taking my first attempt up to Rob’s house for testing this evening.  If the taste does not match the smell, it will be back to the drawing board tomorrow with a second attempt.   So the reference to doors in this anecdote is that even if the main door of Lynwood & Co. is shut (although I am not sure if this is the case yet), there may be a small door, which a small person could enter and do a bit as a side line.  This may just be a one off, but we will just have to wait and see.

    With reference to no. 5,  I was at work at the Coln Community Stores on Tuesday when an elderly gentleman came into the shop with an inquiry about his account, as well as asked to put a notice on the notice board.  Being nosy I took a quick peek before I posted it to see what it was about.  I note mentioned that the residents of one of the bigger houses in the next village were looking for someone to cook evening meals for them.  I thought this may be of interest to me so to cut a long story short, I met the residents on Tuesday to find out what they were after; informed them of a potential rate of pay on Wednesday and left some meal ideas for them on Friday with a note of how we could proceed if they were still interested.  Although very excited about the prospect on Tuesday, albeit a bit apprehensive, by Wednesday my enthusiasm was waning a bit and by Friday I was becoming quite uncertain.  I really do just want to bake and in a way, I am not sure whether I want anything else to get in the way of my end game.  Yes, it could be a means to an end, as well as could lead to other things, but at the moment, I am not sure.  The ball is currently in their court.  I doubt they will call me over the weekend, so I will just need to wait to see what next week brings.  So with reference to doors in this anecdote, a reading of a note has potentially opened a new door.  I am just not sure at this point whether I want to enter the door.

  • All in a day’s work

    Other than offering you a recipe for pizza dough and tomato sauce, I haven’t written my blog for a while.  And yes, I am fully aware that I start almost every blog entry the same way and even if I don’t I am thinking it.

    My last few weeks have been a bit of a juggling act.  Having had reduced hours at Lynwood & Co for a while, I am now working at both Lynwood & Co and the Coln Community Stores.  I continue to do prep work (mostly baking) at Lynwood & Co, while working early morning and afternoon/evening shifts at the Coln Community Stores (doing anything and everything they need me to do).  I am quite enjoying the balance, albeit at the moment I am working six days a week and am a little knackered to say the least.

    I am waiting patiently (or maybe not so patiently) for the Lynwood & Co production kitchen to be set up in Hatherop so that I can focus on just baking for them in addition to doing my hours at Coln Community Stores.  I have sort of been promised this when the production kitchen has been set up.  It has been suggested that I will have 4-5 hours baking, 4 times a week when the production kitchen is set up.  I have agreed to the hours and the pay in principle but am still in the process of clarifying when I can do the baking.  I am looking for flexible hours to be done around my Coln Community Store hours as I feel that my balance of front of house work at Coln Community Stores and baking at Lynwood & Co will be an ideal combination as working in the prep kitchen on its own is a little bit isolating.  Although I joke that I don’t need human interaction and prefer the company of the animal variety (i.e. dogs), I have discovered that I do in fact need a job which has more human interaction.  I am hoping that things are sorted out in the production kitchen before I burn out again.

    Speaking of burn out, although my health took a bit of a dive the week before last – a combination of doing the early morning shift at Coln Community Stores on my own for the first time (and a couple of personal issues which arose at the time but which are best kept private) and looking after my Mum, who was involved in a bus accident, which resulted in a concussion and a need for on-hand support, this week has been okay health wise.  Good enough to compete in a 10km trail run yesterday in the Forest of Dean.  Although running is not my forte anymore (I am more of an OCR competitor these days), I managed to be the fifth lady over the line, so am very content.  Sore, but very content.

    After driving back from the Forest of Dean, we dropped the car off at Swindon station; changed out of our running gear into something more presentable (hopefully not watched by CCTV and the risk of being charged with indecent exposure); sprayed ourselves generously with deodorant; stopped for a takeaway lunch at COSTA and then hopped on the train to London.  Our mission was to meet five of my fellow (now ex) Diploma in Professional Patisserie students at Mommi in Clapham North.  We had a great catch-up.  It was well worth the journey.  I had forgotten (how could I) with everything that has happened since we left Ashburton Cookery School last year just how much I missed and love our group.  Note to self (just like Bridget Jones), I must make more of an effort to see them more regularly if I can.  If any of you are reading my blog, you are welcome to come to visit me in the lovely Cotswolds.

    Before I went to London, I was going to tell you about my very busy day baking at Lynwood & Co on Friday.  But now, I am not so sure if I should, having heard the hours that one of my ex fellow students is doing at the Ritz.  My workload pales into insignificance in comparison to hers.  Okay, okay; you twisted my arm.  I will let you know what was on my agenda yesterday but really in the context of my ex fellow student’s workload it is really no big deal.

    In my shift yesterday, I made:

    • Two large carrot cakes (48 portions)
    • Two large lemon polenta cakes with a crystallised sugar, cardamom and freeze-dried raspberry topping (48 portions)
    • Two large salted caramel and pecan brownies, including the caramel sauce to go into it (48 portions)
    • 26 chewy quadruple chocolate cookies
    • Four apple and rhubarb vegan loaves (32 portions)
    • Two banana loaves (16 portions)
    • Two ginger loaves (16 portions)
    • Rhubarb compote
    • Pesto for our Porto sourdough toastie
    • Double portion of flatbread dough
    • Cracked and blended 140 eggs and cracked another 70ish for baking
    • Etc.

    Having not made the caramel sauce or the salted caramel brownie before, I took the sugar and golden syrup to a level which I thought was correct and then added the salt, butter and double cream as required.  Although the end result was a lovely golden colour it ended up a rather piffling amount which then set too hard when it cooled.  I started again with three times the original recipe (at the Head Chef’s suggestion).  My next attempt resulted in a lovely free-flowing caramel sauce which didn’t set in its tracks and was the right consistency to add to the chocolate brownie mixture.

    Not long after I had completed my caramel sauce making, the owner of Lynwood & Co came into the kitchen and asked if he could try the discarded portion of hardened caramel (sauce).  He exclaimed that it was delicious and suggested that I could give Werthers a run for their money.  He then asked whether I thought I could replicate my mistake again.  I haven’t tried yet, but I think I may give it a go when I have a spare minute.  I have to admit that it was a very tasty and happy, rather than unhappy, mistake.

    On a final note, I should possibly mention the Coln St Aldwyns Fete, which is due to be held on the 1st September 2018.  My husband, Jo, is on the planning committee, in charge of the stalls and following conversations with other committee members recently, the fact that I ‘bake’ has been bandied around.  It looks like I may be roped in to do some baking for the fete.  Now for most people this may be a chore.  But for me, I think it may be an opportunity to ‘show case’ what I can do.  You never know where this may lead.  Nowhere, but possibly somewhere.  I hope it leads somewhere as Jo and I have cut short our wedding anniversary holiday to support the fete on the day.  I am also quite keen to get my beloved Uuni Pro out and ‘show case’ my recently acquired ‘pizza-making skills’.  I think that they are looking for additional food offerings, so they may be interested.  Watch this space……