Crackers at China Live

Top chef Luis turned under-cooked rice and grass from the coast of China in to an amazing fine dining experience (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2E48p7eViU).

You will be as staggered as I by the amount of time (potentially three days), the attention to detail and the amazing interpretation of a beach after a bonfire!  This was Luis’ inspiration in creating the seagrass cracker that was the crowning glory to his delicate dessert with passion fruit cream

And he didn’t stop there but delicately added bubbles of smoke flavour to the plate!  This is where the chef with Michelin experience stands head and shoulders ahead of the home cook.    And even more so when that cook can’t see either.

It was a fabulous dessert and he generously shared both his recipe and the tricks of the trade – check out the video.

I was lucky enough to cook alongside him at the outstanding China Live restaurant in San Francisco’s famous China Town thanks to winning the Holman prize run by the city’s LightHouse organisation for blind people.

 

 

Penny

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Can blind cook survive in professional kitchen?

Imagine the challenge of cooking alongside a Michelin-level chef making eclectic Chinese cuisine from authentic ingredients in an ultra-high-tech kitchen – without any sight at all (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqRx8cGznGs).  Then double the anxiety and stress because everything is being captured on video and it will be your first test of the Baking blind world tour.

Yes, I was very nervous that I’d make a complete mess of the day: bang around the kitchen, drop the ingredients and generally look stupid.  Thank goodness for consummate professional Executive Pastry Chef Luis who not only cooks at the top of his game in the prestigious China Live restaurant  in San Francisco but is also a compelling instructor at the local college.  He chose to show me his seagrass cake with passion fruit cream.  Not only utterly delicious and a fabulous example of fine dining but capable of being translated in to this blind home cook’s repertoire.  If I can do it, anyone can!

I’d never heard of seagrass which comes from the coast of China and is used in place of flour to produce an ultra-light sponge  that is flecked with green and brown.  And the passion fruit powder is definitely on my shopping list to create desserts with real intense flavour – you can find it on the web.    Luis showed me new ways of making the cake and cream – just basic for him but great learning for me.

China Live is in the famous Chinatown area of San Francisco and is not to be missed.  Across five floors, it offers every aspect of Chinese cuisine from the more relaxed café at the entrance to the fine dining and banqueting facilities.  They also sell authentic ingredients and innovative ceramics and equipment.  We lunched on some fried dumplings that were just outstanding.  Big thumbs up.

San Francisco was the starting point of my adventure cooking across six continents  because it is also the base of the LightHouse organisation that created and funded my international Holman prize.  My goal over all the coming video episodes is to show that a shared passion, whether for cooking, work or anything else, breaks down barriers of disability.  I think that you will see that Luis happily treated me like any other semi-competent cook: we just got on with the job in hand because my blindness didn’t matter.

Penny

San Francisco videos coming soon

San Francisco was my starting point for the Baking blind world tour: a city full of life and history with a great reputation for good food   .  Also home to the LightHouse organisation that awarded me the Holman prize for blind ambition, I learned from real experts such as Luis the Michelin-level pastry chef, Tanya and her authentic Creole creations , the Cheeseboard team who have also hosted such luminaries as Great British Bake-Off’s Paul Hollywood.  See them all over the next few weeks!

Home Sweet Home

The smell of my own sheets, the touch of the familiar steps , taste of home-cooking and the sound of my turtle doves cooing – I’m home at last after over five months in French hospitals. There’s a short video about my homecoming and a couple of the latest traumas. I had a great welcome with cards, flowers, balloons and all those Christmas presents I’d missed.

Enormous thanks to everyone who gave me the will and strength to get through those life-threatening times: all the medical, nursing, care and physiotherapy teams in France; all of you family, friends and colleagues who have visited and been in touch over the weeks. While the health care was outstanding, it was the words of encouragement, the grasp of a hand, the laughter, the odd tear and the silly sounds shared with all you caring people that got through the coma, overcame the language barriers and made my recovery possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I’m not out of the woods yet: neck vertebrae still need to consolidate and I still need more physical endurance, balance and stamina to get back to full function but I’m on track. I’m even getting quite a suntan from walking daily in the local park, new muscles from getting in and out of chairs plus confidence to climb stairs. Standing for long is still quite a challenge so my cooking is mainly limited to chopping while I sit – but it is a start! It has been a sheer joy to be in my own shower, find my own clothes and be able to move around independently because I know where everything is – to the millimetre!

But I’m still driven by my desire to fulfil my role as a winner of the international Holman prize funded by San Francisco’s LightHouse organisation: I’ve cooked around the world and now want to share all those experiences, adventures and culinary delights with you.

Already I’m working on all the videos and recipes from the Baking Blind world tour. It is thrilling to relive the fun and delight of all those wildly enthusiastic chefs and the tastes of their fantastic food. Next week you can see the seagrass cake by Luis in San Francisco – new ingredients and techniques by a culinary superstar. So please do subscribe to the Baking Blind YouTube channel and watch the whole adventure unfold …there are more surprises still to come!

Best wishes

Penny

Tel: +44 (0)1329 841814

p.s. Just drop me a line if you aren’t interested in future news.

Home Sweet Home

The smell of my own sheets, the touch of the familiar steps , taste of home-cooking and the sound of my turtle doves cooing – I’m home at last after over five months in French hospitals.  There’s a short video about my homecoming and a couple of the latest traumas.  I had a great welcome with cards, flowers, balloons and all those Christmas presents I’d missed.Penny wearing her chefs hat with christmas presents in the garden

Enormous thanks to everyone who gave me the will and strength to get through those life-threatening times: all the medical, nursing, care and physiotherapy teams in France; all of you family, friends and colleagues who have visited and been in touch over the weeks.  While the health care was outstanding, it was the words of encouragement, the grasp of a hand, the laughter, the odd tear and the silly sounds shared with all you caring people that got through the coma, overcame the language barriers and made my recovery possible.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I’m not out of the woods yet: neck vertebrae still need to consolidate and I still need more physical endurance, balance and stamina to get back to full function but I’m on track.  I’m even getting quite a suntan from walking daily in the local park, new muscles from getting in and out of chairs plus confidence to climb stairs.  Standing for long is still quite a challenge so my cooking is mainly limited to chopping while I sit – but it is a start!  It has been a sheer joy to be in my own shower, find my own clothes and be able to move around independently because I know where everything is – to the millimetre!

 

But I’m still driven by my desire to fulfil my role as a winner of the international Holman prize funded by San Francisco’s LightHouse organisation: I’ve cooked around the world and now want to share all those experiences, adventures and culinary delights with you.

Already I’m working on all the videos and recipes from the Baking Blind world tour.  It is thrilling to relive the fun and delight of all those wildly enthusiastic chefs and the tastes of their fantastic food. Next week you can see the seagrass cake by Luis in San Francisco – new ingredients and techniques by a culinary superstar.  So please do subscribe to the Baking Blind YouTube channel and watch the whole adventure unfold …there are more surprises still to come!

Penny

Walking Wounded

Over 3 months since nearly dying in a car accident, I’m just about back on my feet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7nJI57H-M8

I think that they reckon one loses about 2% muscle mass for every week in bed so you can imagine that I’m now rather a weakling!

Each day is a struggle to master a new exercise, re-build lost muscles, get some better balance and achieve more independence.

It was thrilling to have a shower while laid out on the special trolley that has flip up sides to become a mini-bath. But even better to be able to sit and then stand for a real shower – though still hanging on for grim death.

I don’t have to be hoisted out of bed anymore in the big bag but can now do it by myself.

I’ve progressed and can now stand up by myself, walk with just one hand on the parallel bars and even do a fairly quick dash down the corridor with a “walker” machine. Every day includes over four hours physiotherapy so there’s a real risk that I’ll be fitter than before the accident!

The electric wheelchair is still my main mode of travel to the gym etc but they don’t let me drive it myself: I think that having some sight is really fairly essential as it can go pretty fast!

E-mails and phone calls, a bevy of Easter eggs, other delicious and thoughtful gifts from back home, lots of visits and great staff all make the rehabilitation process bearable – and there are lots of opportunities to share laughs with other patients as we struggle along. I’ve been outside to enjoy that tiny bit of sunshine that managed to penetrate a very cold and wet Spring season. My top ambition is to get back to all my Baking Blind activities in the next few weeks – even though I’ve managed a simple fruit salad, I can’t wait to be cooking again. I’m making a list of everything I want to cook as soon as I’m able. The food here is not so hot and is rather monotonous: never to see another piece of mini-pasta would be wonderful!

My thanks to San Francisco’s Lighthouse organisation for their patience while I make good my recovery to complete the rest of my Holman prize project: I’m sure that all the future videos and recipes will be worth the wait.

If you want to watch the video then follow the link to YouTube – or I can send you some pictures if you prefer!

Best wishes

Penny

Tel: +44 (0)1329 841814

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Director Disability Dynamics: Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Registered in England and Wales Registration No: 04058702

Registered address: Laylands House, 25 Catisfield Road, Fareham, Hampshire, PO15 5LP

Walking wounded.

Over 3 months since nearly dying in a car accident, I’m just about back on my feet.

I think that they reckon one loses about 2% muscle mass for every week in bed so you can imagine that I’m now rather a weakling!

Each day is a struggle to master a new exercise, re-build lost muscles, get some better balance and achieve more independence.

It was thrilling to have a shower while laid out on the special trolley that has flip up sides to become a mini-bath   Penny's bateau used for her shower

But even better to be able to sit and then stand for a real shower – though still hanging on for grim death.

I don’t have to be hoisted out of bed anymore in the big bag but can now do it by myself.

I’ve progressed and can now stand up by myself, walk with just one hand on the parallel bars and even do a fairly quick dash down the corridor with a “walker” machine.  Every day includes over four hours physiotherapy so there’s a real risk that I’ll be fitter than before the accident!

The electric wheelchair is still my main mode of travel to the gym etc but they don’t let me drive it myself: I think that having some sight is really fairly essential as it can go pretty fast!

E-mails and phone calls, a bevy of Easter eggs, other delicious and thoughtful gifts from back home, lots of visits and great staff all make the rehabilitation process bearable – and there are lots of opportunities to share laughs with other patients as we struggle along.  I’ve been outside to enjoy that tiny bit of sunshine that managed to penetrate a very cold and wet Spring season.  My top ambition is to get back to all my Baking Blind activities in the next few weeks – even though I’ve managed a simple fruit salad, I can’t wait to be cooking again.  I’m making a list of everything I want to cook as soon as I’m able.  The food here is not so hot and is rather monotonous: never to see another piece of mini-pasta would be wonderful!PMB CHU CAPUCINS 2018-38

My thanks to San Francisco’s Lighthouse organisation for their patience while I make good my recovery to complete the rest of my Holman prize project: I’m sure that all the future videos and recipes will be worth the wait.

 

Penny