Thursday, 16 January 2014

Intro: part 2

Influences


I watch a lot of cookery and baking TV shows. The internet is also great for picking up new techniques and inspiration for my home cooking and bakes. I also mentioned in my previous blog post how much Instagram has influenced me over time.

People


A lot of my background in home cooking and baking comes from the people around me. My mum, partner Leigh and mother-in-law Sandra are the people that have influenced me most.

Around the time I started home baking, Sandra began attending cake decorating classes. Here is one of the earlier cakes she decorated in class that she made for us for Valentine's 2007.

Our Valentine's cake made by Sandra, 2007

Over the years she has made and decorated many cakes for family and friends. Sandra just keeps improving and wowing everyone. The most notable cakes that Sandra has made for me and Leigh is for our Engagement and Wedding. The elegant Engagement cake was decorated with white chocolate curls and handmade white chocolate roses in 2010. Our stunning wedding cake of five layers was decorated with damask detailing and handmade porcelain flowers. The flowers and foliage reflected those in the wedding bouquets perfectly.


Our engagement cake made by Sandra
May 2010

Our wedding cake made by Sandra, July 2012
© Henry Aarvold Photography


Me and Leigh make quite a balanced duo when it comes to home cooking. I love cooking with him , though I don't get to as often as I'd like! He works many hours as a teacher, so I cherish the time we do spend together in the kitchen. We're both interested in trying new things and refining the things we cook regularly. It's always fun! I taught him about Chinese home cooking and he taught me about English home cooked food. He learnt how to cook vegetables Chinese style and which sauces/seasonings to use for meat. Whilst I learnt how to make a bolognese, homemade chips and cook steak. Over time, we've over taken each other in some things. He cooks Chinese style vegetables better than me and my bolognese is tastier than his!

Eating out


Since the beginning of our relationship, me and Leigh like to eat out and try different restaurants/cuisines. We've owned a tastecard and Gourmet Society card from time to time, which provide discounts at restaurants in the UK. This has helped fuel our love of eating out.

Food is an important part of Chinese culture. My family eat out often at big family meals, which is always a special experience. Leigh has learnt a lot about traditional and authentic Chinese food this way. It's very different from the stuff you get from Chinese takeaways in Britain. Being with me has certainly helped expand his mind and taste buds!

Granny's birthday meal at Blue Moon, Newcastle
September 2013


This blog will include reviews on eateries and foodie experiences. Something I've wanted to do for a while and will get to do now. Yay!


My style


I find cooking and baking a relaxing experience (generally!). I put on my apron, get in the zone and it's 'me' time. I find it also builds my self-confidence when I make something that turns out successful. I get a lot of satisfaction when I cook for and share my bakes with other people. It's great when family and friends request their favourites to be made for celebrations!

I like to bake things that my mother-in-law Sandra doesn't bake. This way, between us, we have a wide ranging repertoire for special occasions that we can successfully make time and time again. Sandra makes a good pavlova, carrot cake and Christmas fruit cake. I make a good cheesecake, butternut squash cake, cookie and basic bread. My peanut butter & choc chip cookie is always a winner!

My signature cookie: Peanut butter & choc chip
October 2013


I tend to go for recipes that have ingredients that I either already have or are readily available. I tend to shy away or dismiss recipes that have a lot of ingredients I can't easily get hold of. I like to work with what I have at home. I don't like to waste food and will try to make something new with any leftover ingredients. I wouldn't class myself as a creative person, but I do find myself having to be creative when it comes to home cooking. I see what ingredients I have, look up a recipe on the internet, and give it a go! I like to experiment with the goal of always improving! Part of being creative is trying something new and having a safe space to fail. You only get better through making mistakes right?

The other week I was thinking of what I could make for lunch. Savoury tarts came on the TV on Rachel Allen: Bake! I had leftover roasted veg from the night before, mozzarella & parmesan reggiano leftover from Christmas, and I had the ingredients to make shortcrust pastry. So, a roasted veg & three cheese tart was born. I'd not made one before but gave it a go, working with what I knew already. I can improve on the pastry crust, which I will try to do next time. This savoury tart was very tasty but there is still room for improvement! :-)


Roasted Veg & three Cheese Tart, January 2014

Dream


I am currently a part-time youth worker and something I like to do as part of my job, is to cook and bake with the young people I work with. I find this a really enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my job. Young people get to experience new things and develop in such an important independent living skill. And I get to learn more about food through teaching!

When I first started working with young people 8 years ago, I did Latin & ballroom dancing regularly. This was my passion at the time and my dream then was to teach Latin & ballroom dancing to young people. This has been overtaken by my passion in food.

I don't have any professional qualifications in food but would like to one day get paid to do the one thing I love: baking! And if I could combine that with working with young people and in the community, that would be even better!

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