A Cook in the Baking

Here at TRUFFLEicious/Wiltshire Artisans we know all about the small food business, not because we have done a couple of baking courses & think we know it all, but because over the years, (about 40), to be precise, we have done it. Several times. I am definitely a cook in the baking.

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A chocolate treat

We have never been, or wanted to be a large food business, small & exclusive, I think are the words that describes us best. Circumstances prevailed, when it was not always possible to continue those businesses, but never the less our passion for food & creativity has led us down different paths, over the years.

Learning the basics of cookery, like most girls in my youth (this was 40 yrs ago), from my mother, I had various jobs in kitchens during the school holidays where I learnt even more about food & my passion was born.

Leaving school, my teachers thought I was bound for Art College, but it was not to be “out to work & earn some money” my father told me and so off I went. The Lady Magazine, a publication which still exists today, was the key to my short term future.

“Cook required for small family of 5. Large Rectory in the rural Cotswold’s. Simple daily cooking & some entertaining at weekends”. Putting pen to paper, (no e-mails in those days,) I applied & two weeks later I was installed in my first proper cooking job. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 years I spent here, the family were lovely, I had a cosy little cottage in the grounds & learnt a lot – about people & food.

During my time at the Rectory I was introduced to many interesting people, made even more fascinating because my cookery skills were in demand. I made steak & kidney pies for local pubs, cakes for cafe’s & cooked dinner parties for friends of my employer. One particular lady, the grand-daughter of a famous composer, lived in a beautiful Elizabethan Manor House. Finding times difficult, she started a bed a breakfast business for visiting Americans. Dinner in the evening was becoming a necessity, my services were needed on an ad hoc basis, a cottage became available on her estate, & the rest, as they say, is history.

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A Cook in the baking

Farm Cottage was started from my kitchen in rural Gloucestershire. Having obtained a list of names from my landlady I set about creating a mail shot. This was hard work in the pre-internet years. I hand wrote menus on vellum paper, stapled them into booklets and popped them into 25 large envelopes. I then sat back & waited for the phone to ring & ring it did.

Read more of my journey, in a later post on this site.

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A menu from the past

Taste have we lost it?

Taste, how do you like your food

Are we becoming a society that has lost its taste?

By taste. I do not mean in the way we dress, or the amount of dubious celebrity gossip we devour on a daily basis. I mean, in this instance, our taste buds.

We all appear to be concerned with perfection in every thing, which in itself is commendable, but when it comes to food, what may be perfection on the outside, is not necessarily so on the inside.

We seemed to be overly obsessed with gluten free, dairy free, going vegetarian or vegan & eating raw or natural foods, food miles etc, however, when it comes to what were are really putting into our bodies, we appear to ignore, what additives or preservatives are in a product & just munch away, as long as it looks perfect & suits our skewed values.

Last week, meat was discovered in two major supermarkets vegetarian ready meals. Wether this was an error on the production line, or an additive – such as gelatine – that had been overlooked in the recipe, it is yet to be known. The point is if we really cared about what goes into our mouths, we would be cooking our own meals from fresh natural ingredients, to ensure our meals are healthy, natural & fresh, not leave it celebrities & mass food producers, too persuade us that their products are the “best thing since sliced bread”.

Food,bread, baking, bakery,homemade
Homemade. The best thing since sliced bread

It is strange, that as we have become so obsessed with food & diet, we seem to have a total disregard for the health & nutritional values of the very stuff that keeps our bodies both healthy & alive.

From my small converted Stable Kitchen in Wiltshire, I endeavour to provide my customers with, fresh totally homemade food, in which I also take the nutritional value into account.

Not for me bowls of the ubiquitous Coleslaw – limp white cabbage & soggy old carrots – smothered in artificial high calorie mayo.

Food,salad, healthy eating,fresh food
Healthy salads with homemade herb dressing
Super homemade salads
Food,homemade,bread,bluecheese,salad
Homemade blue cheese Bread & salad

All my breads are homemade, I offer five different varieties, all made with spelt & rye flours. Soups, in the winter, are all made with fresh local veg & my cakes are all made from my own recipes, being low in fat & sugar, some gluten free. I do not use butter cream or mirror glazes on my cakes, the cake itself needs to be full of taste & you really do not need the extra fat & sugar to mask the flavour. Ok, I know it may be ascetically pleasing, but your body won’t thank you for it, in more ways than one.

On a final point, a yummy, glutenfree Mummy, asked yesterday “What cake do you have” I pointed to the Strawberry & Lemon Mousse cake, pictured in the header of this blog & she replied “That’s not really a child’s cake” When I inquired as to why she said it hasn’t got any chocolate sweets & artificial gold stars on. Ahgggggggg.

Bread, a Low fodmap Diet no no?

The one thing I would miss on a Low Fodmap Diet would be bread. I love bread, any type of bread. It is said that bread is the staff of life & for me, its certainly true. I am not talking sliced white, wholemeal or fluffy processed baps, I’m talking rustic, nutty granary bread baked by a local baker [I hate the term Artisan] or home made, not the mass produced items, found in Supermarkets. Give me a metre of a proper french stick, a large lump of Sourdough or a Stilton & Walnut Loaf, together with some tangy cheese or home made pate with a side of olives, some crunchy homegrown lettuce, ripe juicy tomatoes & I am in heaven. Of course, I would also like a large glass of red or white, depending on the season, to wash it all down.

Bread, is one of the things I found, caused me great discomfort. A pair of jeans would feel quite comfortable, until I ate some bread. One slice of toast in the morning would have me thinking I had put on half a kilo in 5 mins. So, I decided to experiment with my own recipe Spelt bread. Although Spelt is not Gluten Free, it is lower in Gluten than other flours, due to the fact that it has a different molecular make up, to the gluten contained in modern wheat. Spelt is higher in fibre than most forms of wheat, its naturally occurring gluten is more water soluble, is degraded by heat & easily broken down, by the kneading action of bread making, which makes it easier to digest.

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Home made Low Gluten Spelt & Rye Rolls

Although not suitable for Celiacs, I have found this bread, which I now make every day, is perfect for me. In addition Spelt has more vitamins than wholewheat flour. I vary the changes with this bread to which I also add a vegetable, carrot one day or beetroot the next. Seeds are another favourite.

As well as bread I also make my own pastry with Spelt & Rye flours. Pastry is very easy to make in a food processor or mixer. It takes about the same amount of time, that it takes to fight your way into a shop bought packet of pastry. You can make up a large batch of pastry, weigh it into portions & freeze. You can be sure that your homemade pastry or bread is full of natural ingredients & does not contain any additives, preservatives or large amounts of sugar and salt.

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A vegetarian feast

As I have said in a previous blog Food, what can I eat. You have to experiment & discover what is right for you. If you cook healthy home made food from fresh natural ingredients, you can be sure you are not intolerant to the vast array of “extras” which are added to today’s unnaturally processed foods. But, that’s another story.