Navy women.

Here’s the fourth batch of young women transforming in to naval officers at Dartmouth in early 1978.  We had just three months although many of the men took years.2 rows of women officer cadets plus their Divisional officers on the steps in front of the naval college

I remember the feet of the Special Duties Division (St George’s?) pounding in the cold dark hours of their early morning platoon runs – and their chorused shout of “Good morning, Talbot Division” under our windows to banish the last hopes of desperate sleep.  There must have been some confusion as to whether we were training as maids or officers: every minute seemed to be spent polishing (brass and shoes), ironing anything that could be worn and practising how to drink coffee without the regulation chocolate biscuit melting down the side of the cup.

There was lots of rushing about – but only in a very lady-like way – not much sleep and a wild fantasy that being able to “drive” the platoon around the parade ground was going to be career enhancing.

I found the very best refuge: warm, barely lit and with soft mats for a snooze.   It was the firing range so I became an enthusiastic rifle and pistol shot to the extent that, in desperation, they included me in the College team.  But, in those days, despite the Women’s Royal Naval Service having been trained at the College for over a year, the powers-that-be still hadn’t quite grasped that we wear different clothes.  The vaunted Dartmouth “Colours” came in the form of a natty green tie replete with the Britannia logo – just what I needed!

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com

 

Individual chicken and mushroom pies.

Succulent chicken in a creamy sauce topped with crisp rough puff pastry – and you can Freeze once the pies have been filled and topped with lids.  Cook from frozen at Gas 7 (425 Fahrenheit, 220 Centigrade) for 25 minutes and then Gas 6 (400 Fahrenheit, 200 Centigrade) for a further 20 minutes.

Place a baking sheet in the oven while it heats up.  When the pies are placed on it, the bottoms will cook faster.

You can watch me make them on You Tube or find the recipe at Lunch for four showing the finished pies and a delicious side saladwww.bakingblind.com 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

penny@bakingblind.com

Clutch of different eggs for Easter.

Rodney (my builder) brought me four dozen eggs laid by the quails reared by his brother, Terry.  I’ve tried two recipes to get the best out of such a special gift:

 

Not-so-mini Scotch eggs – watch me make them on YouTube

Each quail egg in the middle of a crisp and spicy coat of sausage meat and black pudding.

Outstanding while warm from the oven and still delicious halved as canapés.

Don’t expect these oven-cooked Scotch eggs to look as dark brown as the deep-fried versions – although they are paler, less calories!

Oriental canapés – watch me make them on YouTube

These quail eggs marinaded in soy sauce with sesame seed dip are tasty nibbles to go with drinks.

As soon as the sesame seeds start making cracking noises in the pan, keep them moving and remove from the heat once they have started to give up their distinctive sesame smell.

The eggs make cracking noises as they cook which can seem quite alarming!

Soft-boiled quail eggs only need about a minute simmering if first covered by boiling water, about two minutes for hard-boiled.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

All the recipes are available at www.bakingblind.com

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com

Not just a one trick pony!

In case you think that all I do is cook, here’s my Easter flower arrangement (complete with eggs) and a couple of pewter tassels!

My tassles made from pewterI wanted to explore the contrast between the softness of fabric and the silvery hardness of the metal.    Finishing each delicate section took hours: filing and smoothing along the seam lines to recover both the softness and sparkle.

The flower arrangement was much quicker with just a pack of candy-coloured plastic shot glasses tied to a bunch of curly twigs – each glass is filled with tulips and My easter flower arrangement complete with eggs!narcissi from the garden and finished with a random sprinkling of eggs.  It fills the room with all the fragrance of Spring.

Back to the pewter: Fleur (super pewter craftperson) showed me a tassel she had made for a presentation box.  Once the mould frame had been formed with Lego, I pressed the tassel and a suspending cord in to the moulding rubbery material.  Once hardened, a swish of releasing spray and the second layer of the compound.  I gently teased apart the two halves to release the tassel before Fleur cut a funnel through which she poured the molten pewter.  Then back to me for all the finishing.

Now I’m working on a couple of bowls that, with luck, will have dragon feet.

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com

Lamb and vegetable tajines.

Watch me make them on YouTube or download the recipes here

 

The quick vegetable version is just as full of flavour and satisfying as the slow-cooked lamb tajine.  Serve with couscous sharpened with lemon zest, slithers of cucumber for texture and chopped coriander for freshness.Penny softening peppers, aubergine and courgettes

Portions of GGG (garlic, ginger and green chilli) in the freezer make these easy and spicy dishes for a Middle Eastern feast.

If you don’t have authentic tajine dishes (or want to keep them just for serving), cook the lamb tajine in an ordinary casserole with a close fitting lid and a circle of parchment paper (cartouche) on top to retain the moisture.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com

 

If you’ve got a long-term health condition or disability, what can you expect from your Jobcentre in the future?

Masses of people with health conditions and disabilities want to get back to work but help hasn’t always been right for them in the past.  The Government has been consulting on improvements and there are already signs of changes underway:

 Increasing understanding of disability in Jobcentres.

  • By august, local community organisations will be working with Jobcentres: giving expert knowledge, advice and support on disability issues to the Jobcentre staff and improving their understanding of the challenges disabled people face in getting and keeping jobs.
  • There will also be more specialist Disability Employment Advisers amongst Jobcentre staff to increase their colleagues’ disability understanding and help them better assist their clients.

 Additional support.

  • More people with health limitations for work can volunteer for Work Choice support (provided by various contractors).  Places have now been opened up for people who don’t have to be eligible for the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) element of employment and support Allowance (ESA) or the limited capability element of Universal Credit (UC).
  • 1,000 more people with mental health conditions can get up to 6 months help from the Mental Health Service to start and keep new jobs (for those on ESA WRAG and UC due to limited capability for work).
  • New Work and health Programme starts in November this year and will help those with health conditions and disabilities, alongside long-term unemployed people. This replaces the Work Programme which has just stopped taking on new people but anyone already on that programme will still get up to two years of their existing help.

 Increasing job opportunities.

In every Jobcentre area, there will be three specialist advisers targeting small local businesses with the “Small Employer Offer” – explaining what support is available when they employ someone with a long-term health condition or disability.  By building strong relationships with those employers, they’ll be able to give real practical help:   ensuring that people applying for jobs or work experience with the employer are a good fit and helping with claims for Access to Work (ATW).

 

Access to Work.

This financial help supports eligible people with long-term health conditions or disabilities to take up a job offer and keep existing jobs.

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@laylands.co.uk

Indian feast: Chicken Tikka Masala, Masoor Dahl with Cumin Seed Tarka and carrots roasted with cumin.

The finished article on a plate Simple and classic curry that everyone loves with some different side-dishes.

A Quick meal: it takes about five minutes the day before and, while the chicken cooks, there’s time to make the sauce, dal, carrots, rice and any other side dishes.

Just pop the carrots in the microwave to par-cook.

Having frozen portions of GGG (crushed ginger, garlic and green chilli) in the freezer makes these dishes even faster.

Using a food processor or mill instead of grating onion and pepper is much easier and far less tearful!  Just chop both roughly and process for a minute or so to form a rough slurry.

Powdered spices in a storage facility that makes it easy for me to identify themMeasuring out all the spices is simpler if they are all kept together in separate compartments in a single tin – I have one for ground spices and another for whole.Whole spices in storage that makes it easy for me to identify them

Watch me make them on YouTube or download the recipe from www.bakingblind.com

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com