Cheer up weary fruit

 

If it’s getting towards the end of the week and the fruit bowl is looking a bit sorry for itself, here’s a super hot dessert.  When shopping can take too long and some food is hard to get, it makes sense to make the most of everything you have.

This hot fruit salad takes minutes to prepare from easy ingredients: 2 each apples and pears (cored and chopped to bite-size – don’t bother to peel), 2 bananas peeled and chopped, 2 oranges zested and juiced, a handful of raisins, a handful of crystallised ginger chopped.

Put all the ingredients into an ovenproof dish and add a little light brown sugar or honey if desired before stirring everything and covering with cooking foil.  Cook at Gas 6 or 200C for 40-60 minutes and serve.

Leftovers re-heat well at a medium microwave setting.  A peeled, de-seeded and chopped melon will make the hot fruit salad go further and, if you don’t have any ginger, try a cinnamon stick, star anise or some green cardamom pods for other exotic flavours.

If your other bananas have gone beyond the leopard stage, peel and cut in to chunks before freezing.  Whizz to a puree in a food processor with a teaspoonful of honey and, if necessary, re-freeze to firm up before serving.

 

 

BOGOF

If your self-isolating hoard of UHT milk tastes awful in tea, here’s the answer: homemade yoghurt plus the vital ingredient for a simple bread.  Two for the price of one.

The yoghurt is blissfully simple: just heat half a litre of UHT milk to 43.5 degrees Celsius and pour in to a container with a lid.  Stir a tablespoon or so of plain natural yoghurt (ideally without any additives) in to the milk.  Put on the lid and keep at the same temperature for 8-10 hours.

I’m lucky enough to have a sous-vide water bath that will maintain the pre-set temperature but you could experiment: perhaps a vacuum  flask wrapped up in a freezer bag or insulated cooler.

Pour the yoghurt through a sieve  lined with muslin and leave to drain to reach the consistency you want: the longer it drains, the less you make but the thicker it becomes.

Don’t waste the milky liquid that drains off.  Mix 250g of plain flour with 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a good pinch of salt.  Pour in just under 200ml of the drained liquid and form the mix into a soft dough.  Quickly knead into a rough ball and place on to a floured baking sheet.  Slash a cross into the top and cook in a pre-heated oven  at Gas 6, 200C for about 30 minutes.  Knock the bottom to check if it sounds hollow – if not, return it to the oven upside down for a couple of minutes.  Eat the same day with homemade soup or it will toast well for breakfast.

You can experiment  with the yoghurt: try adding orange zest at the start , add milk powder for thicker results.

When life feels tough, it can be very satisfying to try something new, that’s created with the simplest ingredients and that you can perfect to impress family and friends when you see them next.

 

 

Good simple food makes isolation more bearable

Being quarantined at home  gives me more time to cook.  I’ve been inspired to share this recipe by Orly, one of the semi-finalists for the 2020 Holman prize for blind ambition being run by San Francisco’s LightHouse organisation.  It might just cheer you up!

The ingredients aren’t too difficult to find and the result is delicious:

chicken with tarragon and lemon.

3 onions peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 knob butter

10 (1kg) chicken thighs, skinned

1 large glass dry white wine

Zest of one lemon

2 chicken stock cubes

1 tablespoon fresh French tarragon leaves, chopped

3 heaped teaspoons cornflour

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Sauté the onions and garlic.

Place the chicken thighs in the pan and cover with the wine, a mug of water, add the lemon zest, stock cubes, tarragon leaves and bring to a very gentle simmer.

Cook for two hours on the smallest gas ring, on a heat defuser, on the lowest setting on an electric ring or in the oven on a very low temperature.

Remove the chicken thighs.

Slake the cornflour with a little water and whisk into the juices in the pan until thickened.  Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

Pour over the chicken.

My tips:

Accompanied by some green vegetables and rice or potato, this is enough for 10 portions and freezes well to make dishes for the future when you want something  without slogging in the kitchen.  Just de-frost in the fridge overnight and then heat in the microwave on a low/medium power.

Dried tarragon will also work well but use about a heaped teaspoonful.

 

Perfect timing: cooking for mind, body and soul

In 2017, my Baking Blind project https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTJYx7jGA3xaR4830wJSRg?view_as=subscriber won the inaugural  international Holman prize for blind people with ambition.  Now another blind cook has even better ideas and seeks your support for the 2020 competition for which she is already a semi-finalist.

When all of us are facing the current pandemic, Orly plans to show how good nutritional food can contribute to our physical and mental health. Orly says, “I want to create, empower, and inspire, through a cooking show series on Youtube; to also create an accessible app available to all across the world with guest speakers and recipes to delight and nourish our mind, body, and soul. “

She is uniquely qualified herself having recently graduated as a chef and survived her own difficult background: “I am a recovering opiate addict, who experienced situations of domestic abuse and poor health.  Please go on YouTube and click the like button and share, on my 90 second video to help me strengthen my application.

https://youtu.be/VnTwTJh3YpY

She’s also just launching her new website:

www.nourishedbylight.com

When so many of us are stuck at home and not having a great time, it’s worth a couple of minutes to support Orly and give her ambitions a further boost.

 

Blindness for Beginners

 

Maribel and I compared notes about living with visual impairment when we cooked together in her Melbourne homehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9OnaZzQTkI&feature=youtu.be and she gave me her top tips for surviving blindness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8dvHsuamE&feature=youtu.be

Now she has published her latest book, “Blindness for Beginners”, to share her knowledge and experience with anyone facing the life-changing impact of sight loss.  Maribel reflects on her own experiences, how she made the adjustments to a different way of life and offers masses of sound practical advice.  Her own positive personality and sense of humour shine through.

And you don’t have to be visually impaired to get the best from her book: much of Maribel’s insight, wisdom and determination to make the very best of life applies to everyone.  Her own story www.maribelsteel.com  is full of triumphs, joy and fun.   She has already been featured on Australian TV and radio while writing regularly for the American blind community.

“Blindness for Beginners” by Maribel Steel is available through Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0987446126 and she is working on the audio version that will soon be available through Audible.

 

 

,

 

Last chance for this year’s community heroes nominations

 

Don’t kick yourself but rack your brain for the local person who has made a huge difference to your community  and, of course, I’m keen that you don’t forget all those with disabilities who go the extra mile.

Nominations need to be in this week:

BBC Radio Solent announces the launch of their Community Heroes awards.

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BBC Radio Solent has launched its first ever Community Heroes Awards.

In a year where the station will celebrate its 50th anniversary on December 31, BBC Radio Solent is reaching out to the heart of its communities, showcasing the people, their stories and the work that goes on across the region.

The awards aim to recognise unsung heroes across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, celebrating individuals and groups who go the extra mile to make their community a better place to live and work in.

Head Judge, Managing Editor Sarah Miller, comments, “We’ve been at the heart of communities for five decades so it felt like the perfect time for the station to celebrate some of the work carried out every day by people in the South. Solent has always been a station that cares about the community, running campaigns that are about improving people’s lives and showcasing the amazing work that happens in the south.

 

“It’s the perfect chance for communities to come together and nominate their local hero! I’m looking forward to reading the nominees’ stories, whether it’s about someone’s bravery, companionship or kindness. I know the strongest stories will make powerful listening on BBC Radio Solent.”

 

There are seven categories to choose from, including Volunteer, Young Achiever and Coastal. Portsmouth sailor and fellow judge, Geoff Holt, who was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing, said “On a daily basis I see amazing people doing amazing things to help others. So often these people give their time and commitment to others asking nothing in return, these are the unsung heroes within our community. I would encourage people to nominate their Community Hero so we can learn and share the work of these amazing people.”

 

The seven categories are as follows:

Young Achiever – Awarded to anyone aged 18 or under, who has demonstrated maturity beyond their years.

Coastal – someone who gives their time, energy & passion into making our coastline a better place, whether by marine conservation, protecting the environment, education or saving lives.

Services – Presented to a member of the emergency services or the armed forces for commitment to their profession.

Carer – Someone who cares for an individual or group of people on a regular basis.

Good Neighbour – Awarded to an individual or organisation that helps make the neighbourhood & local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness or courage.

Inclusion – an individual or group who strives to break down barriers, enforce positive messages, reach out to minority groups and bring people together.

Volunteer – Awarded to a person or group who gives up their time voluntarily to help others, perhaps contributing to local sporting life, helping out at a local charity or good cause.

The BBC Radio Solent Outstanding Achievement Award – a winner from the above categories will be picked as our overall Hero.

Head to bbc.co.uk/solent for the terms, privacy notice and details on how to nominate; the closing date for entries is midnight on March 1st.

-ends-

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Hollie.druce@bbc.co.uk

Nomination Details:

  • You must be over 18 to nominate someone
  • You must have the nominee’s permission to put them forward for an award.
  • The deadline for nominations is midnight on Sunday 1st March 2020.

The Awards Dinner will be on Monday 30th March 2020 at Carey’s Manor in Brockenhurst  – hosted in partnership with student chefs from Brockenhurst College.

 

 

 

 

Life after Service

 

Hear my radio interview with the British Forces Broadcasting Service  today: 1800 UK time www.forces.net and follow links to BFBSUK.

There are lots of us with stories about our adventures after leaving  the Navy, Army or Air Force.  If you want to see more of what I’ve been up to over the last 21 years, you can read my story at www.bakingblind.com and catch up with the videos of the world tour at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTJYx7jGA3xaR4830wJSRg?view_as=subscriber

Military life was great for learning specific skills.  In my case, managing projects, budgets and people.  Far more important was the motivation, determination, confidence and ambition to live life to the full and try to make a contribution to the country.  Working with other people from many different backgrounds, with so many different skills, characters   and motivations was ideal preparation for life in “Civvy Street”.  Perhaps this is our great strength as ex-military people : having breadth of vision and being willing to accept anyone like-minded, regardless of who or what they are.

If you miss tonight’s show, there are other opportunities :

25 February local Breakfast shows  0600-0700

Wednesday 27 February local Lunchtime shows 1300-1400

Thursday 28 February Worldwide show 1000-1100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help HMRC to help us

One of my roles (when I’m not  running my business www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk or Baking Blind www.bakingblind.com) is trying to advise  HMRC on making services more accessible.

They are currently looking for self-employed people or business owners who are registered for VAT and who use adaptive software (for example, screen magnification or a screen reader) and who handle their own tax affairs.

They are seeking willing volunteers who will assist HMRC in improving  the experience of users with access needs.

There are two parts to the VAT service:

  • The ‘Sign Up’ journey, which involves basically signing up for the service, and
  • The ‘View and Change’ part, where users can update their details and make VAT payments, etc.

To help them evaluate this service to the customer, the team are looking to recruit assistance from two user groups:

  • Accountants who represent business owners, and deal with tax affairs on behalf of their clients.

( The team are very eager to recruit access needs users who are accountants and although they estimate the low possibility of this, it would be extremely beneficial to their work.)

  • Unrepresented users who are dealing with their tax affairs themselves.

(The team hope that unrepresented users would be easier to recruit, although these users must be customers that actually run a business and deal with their tax affairs themselves, but also have access needs and need the use of assistive technology to perform digital tasks.)

In terms of the actual research the team would conduct, they would be looking to organise face to face sessions with users, which would allow them to use their assistive technology to perform the tasks the team would assign.

The structure of the session would follow the pattern of providing the users with a scenario, which will be similar to their actual situation, and then give them a task to complete. So, for example, the ‘Sign Up’ task would simply be for the user to sign up to the service, whereas the ‘View and Change’ task would have a couple of different parts to it, which could be something such as changing a phone number or making a payment.

Matty, who works for Capgemini, would be pleased to assist any potential users by discussing further explanations and requirements with any interested parties.

If any customers are willing to assist or have any questions regarding this research, please contact Matty O’Carroll direct :

Matty O’Carroll | User Researcher | Customer Strategy & Tax Design | 07944 187124 | matthew.ocarroll@digital.hmrc.gov.uk

 

Get nominating!

 

I’m very honoured to be judging the “Inclusion“ category award in this prestigious BBC event.  There are six other categories too.  I’m sure that many of you will know someone who perfectly fits the bill.  Please do take the time to put them forward.

BBC Radio Solent announces the launch of their Community Heroes awards.

In a year where the station will celebrate its 50th anniversary on December 31, BBC Radio Solent is reaching out to the heart of its communities, showcasing the people, their stories and the work that goes on across the region.

The awards aim to recognise unsung heroes across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, celebrating individuals and groups who go the extra mile to make their community a better place to live and work in.

Head Judge, Managing Editor Sarah Miller, comments, “We’ve been at the heart of communities for five decades so it felt like the perfect time for the station to celebrate some of the work carried out every day by people in the South. Solent has always been a station that cares about the community, running campaigns that are about improving people’s lives and showcasing the amazing work that happens in the south.

“It’s the perfect chance for communities to come together and nominate their local hero! I’m looking forward to reading the nominees’ stories, whether it’s about someone’s bravery, companionship or kindness. I know the strongest stories will make powerful listening on BBC Radio Solent.”

There are seven categories to choose from, including Volunteer, Young Achiever and Coastal. Portsmouth sailor and fellow judge, Geoff Holt, who was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing, said “On a daily basis I see amazing people doing amazing things to help others. So often these people give their time and commitment to others asking nothing in return, these are the unsung heroes within our community. I would encourage people to nominate their Community Hero so we can learn and share the work of these amazing people.”

The seven categories are as follows:

Young Achiever – Awarded to anyone aged 18 or under, who has demonstrated maturity beyond their years.

Coastal – someone who gives their time, energy & passion into making our coastline a better place, whether by marine conservation, protecting the environment, education or saving lives.

Services – Presented to a member of the emergency services or the armed forces for commitment to their profession.

Carer – Someone who cares for an individual or group of people on a regular basis.

Good Neighbour – Awarded to an individual or organisation that helps make the neighbourhood & local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness or courage.

Inclusion – an individual or group who strives to break down barriers, enforce positive messages, reach out to minority groups and bring people together.

Volunteer – Awarded to a person or group who gives up their time voluntarily to help others, perhaps contributing to local sporting life, helping out at a local charity or good cause.

The BBC Radio Solent Outstanding Achievement Award – a winner from the above categories will be picked as our overall Hero.

Head to bbc.co.uk/solent for the terms, privacy notice and details on how to nominate; the closing date for entries is midnight on March 1st.

 

Best wishes

 

Penny

Tel: +44 (0)1329 841814

 

Disabilitydynamics.co.uk

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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

 

 

 

 

Know an ambitious blind person?

 

If I can win, anyone can!  This international prize was the key impetus behind my Baking Blind world tour www.bakingblind.com and the videos  demonstrating that blindness or any other disability needn’t hold anyone back. https://youtu.be/5zDdbTdWulM

Now is the time for anyone else who wants that vital boost to their ambitions to step forward and grab this opportunity with both hands.  And, if I can help with any advice, I’d be delighted so please get in touch.

Here’s the information about the 2020 prize:

Watch this 2-minute video. Click here: WHY YOU SHOULD APPLY FOR THE 2020 HOLMAN PRIZE.

The 2020  Holman Prize for Blind Ambition is requesting applications through March 15.

Now in its 4th year, the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco’s Holman Prize for Blind Ambition is an international competition that is awarded annually to three blind individuals who wish to push their limits. It is named for James Holman, a nineteenth century blind explorer, who was the most prolific traveller before the era of modern transport. Each winner will receive up to $25,000 to support their adventure. From traversing the Bosporus Straight via solo kayak, to hosting the first conference in Mexico for blind children and their families led by blind professionals, to creating an app to enable blind citizen scientists to participate in the search for exoplanets by listening to space, our nine winners so far (hailing from five countries on four continents), have each found unique ways to forever change the world’s perception of blindness.

A big idea, a quick application form and a 90-second pitch video are all that is needed to apply. For inspiration, here is the YouTube Playlist of 2019 Holman Prize Finalists.

 

LightHouse is welcoming applications until March 15, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Applications and information are available here: holmanprize.org/applyIf you have any questions, please contact us at holman@lighthouse-sf.org.