Flaming June?…. flaming busy…

Fresh from my garden Firstly there has been a lack of update for the past few weeks, but I have been very busy for the past few weeks. My garden is now taking up more and more of my time. Although there hasn’t been much sunshine over the past month, there hasn’t been much rain either so I have been busy watering and feeding all of my plants. It would seem that my hard work has now paid off as I am reaping the benefits as I have been able to cut some of my curly kale and use it in the kitchen at work.I also picked some mange tout last week too. I have enjoyed the first strawberries of the season from my new plants. My tomatoes are flowering well and are now baring a hefty load of fruit, albeit green still at the moment but will soon ripen up in the green house. The rest of the veggies are doing well too. The sprouts I planted are now well established with huge green leaves. The courgettes now have flowers so will be due to start growing some vegetables soon. The red cabbage and savoy cabbage are doing well too. I look forward to using the produce more and more over the coming months. Back in the kitchen at work we have been kept busy. My sous chef has been on holiday for two weeks as well, so I am happy to have him back in the kitchen now. Whilst he was away we helped in the festivities down at the meare in Thorpeness as it celebrates its 100th year. We put on one of our famous hogroasts to help with the celebrations. We saw one of the locals celebrate his 75th birthday with a party in the Dolphin which consisted of whole poached salmon, smoked ham, salads and a big chocolate cake. onion chutney I have also been making big batches of chutney. I make large amounts at once as it keeps for ages. We use so much chutney at The Dolphin and am happy to say that we make all of it from scratch. This week i have ordered some very seasonal green tomatoes to make some more chutney with. June has also seen a new member of staff in the kitchen as Freddie joins us in the kitchen for the summer. This week will also see some batch cooking as we will be making the ready meals ready to stock the freezer in the shop in time for summer. My pies continue to sell well in the shop and continue to sell out. We have been gearing up  for what I am sure will be a busy summer. So far this year every month has seen a rise in the customers fed in the restaurant compared with the same month last year with May seeing a rise of over 30% more customers which is staggering. With that said June has been very busy in the restaurant for us ans I’m sure that we are well on course for breaking more records as the summer continues. bread makingThis past week also saw me making my first batch of bread in eight years. Since we acquired a new Hobart mixer in the kitchen I have been pestered by David to make some bread. So I order in everything I needed and went to work. When I used to make bread I did it on a daily basis so got used to the quantities needed and therefore didn’t weigh anything out. Now although eight had past I though I would still try to make my bread by eye rather than weighing everything out. Although the bread didn’t look amazing, mainly downing to my technique I’m sure, it did taste great and smelt fantastic as it came hot out of the oven. Over the next few weeks I will find the right recipe for me and then hopefully the bread will be on sale in the restaurant.

I was lucky enough to have a look around the newest cook school in Ipswich this month too. Emma Haines has done a great job with the cook school as it looks amazing. Close to the train station it is easy to access for all. Take a look at there website to see what great things that Emma and her team get up to. www.cookwithme.org.uk . I have been asked to help out with a few things at the cook school so there are some exciting times ahead. I am also hoping to be running my own course at the school at the end of November to cook up some Christmas treats. Some very exciting times ahead. Watch this space.

Follow my blog and keep up to date with me on Twitter @funky_banana. Your comments are always welcome.

CWMK @ The Suffolk Show

What we were cookingA couple of months ago I was contacted by Emma Haines, the director of Cook With Me Kids, to work with them at this years Suffolk Show. Of course I couldn’t say no to doing some work at the county show. Firstly just a little bit about Cook With Me Kids. In my eyes the work that CWMK does is so important in the teaching of children about food. It would seem that some children have such little knowledge about food and where it comes from and what it tastes, however CWMK are out to change this and they ways that they do it is fantastic. Being involved in Suffolk Farming School of the Year was an excellent stage for them to teach a whole bunch of kids about food. The final of Farming School of the Year culminated on the final day of the Suffolk Show. Other than that CWMK goes in to schools and hosts breakfasts clubs in a hope to bring knowledge to kids about how to have a healthy breakfast. What CWMK does is tremendous and the efforts of all the staff are to be commended. However back to the Suffolk Show, the idea was for me to demonstrate to children and have them follow me in order to cook their own food. We were running workshops of about a dozen kids cooking street food. Making flat breads, marinating lamb, chopping salsa and mixing tzatziki were all the things that the kids got stuck into making. Walking and talking through step by step each stage with the kids to have a finished product that they had made them selves and were able to take away and eat. Whilst at first I was a bit out of my comfort zone working with the kids I soon managed to find a way to talk with the kids for them to understand the food they were cooking. And what a pleasure it is to see so many kids get their hands on food and take such an interest in what they are doing. Standing in a marquee in the middle of a field in the wind and the rain wouldn’t normally be my idea of fun but I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with CWMK.

The kids work areaSpeaking with some of the parents that stayed to watch the work shops gave even more reason to want to be involved in such good work. Many parents told me that the kids would never normally eat the things that they were preparing and cooking with me. But the kids were all happy to take their lamb and flat bread away and munch on it for lunch. This proving that getting kids involved in preparing and cooking their own food is a fantastic way to get them eating food that they would normally turn their nose up at. It was really nice to see some familiar faces too with some support from my mum and Carole over the two days. Also Stu, Ab and the kids popped by a couple of times and Rylee even got his hands dirty and made his own lamb flat breads. Although I was a bit dubious at first I had a really enjoyable time and would really like to have the opportunity to work with them again in the future. Please take a look at the Cook With Me Kids to see all the good work they do. Also keep up to date with me on Twitter @funky_banana and I must say a huge thanks to all my new followers on Twitter and those of you that are now following my blog. Thank you!!