Blind baker pounds dough with the Cheeseboard Collective

Strong community ties are a key feature of this landmark establishment in Berkeley, California (http://cheeseboardcollective.coop/).  Not only are all their sourdough breads, pizzas and cheeses in huge demand, but they take special care to foster community spirit.  They were wonderfully welcoming to this blind cook and you can see how they shared some of their favourite bakes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_29MPwF6vE) .

Their Collective ethos has been established for decades and creates real workplace equality and shared responsibility.  Talking to Cathy, Erin and other members of the crew, it was obvious how much they enjoyed their baking, were proud of their products and felt strongly that they were a great team.  It’s difficult to imagine a better basis for a successful business – and it clearly is with their delicious food just flying off the shelves.

I had to be quick to keep up with their production rate and managed just some of their breads: focaccia, zampanos and bialys – all made to their exacting standards.  I’ve captured key elements of the recipes but recommend the Cheeseboard Collective cookbook for the real bread enthusiasts.

And this was my last cooking day in California before flying off to Costa Rica to cook in the jungle – all thanks to the Holman prize from San Francisco’s LightHouse for blind and visually impaired people.

Show that you support disabled people like me: Like and Share on Facebook and Twitter; Subscribe and Comment on the YouTube video.

Penny

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Letter from America.

Am I going to survive this adventure?  So far, it has been pretty touch and go with about 12 hours of activities every day, still not sleeping much due to the time differences and trying to keep up with all the information and new experiences (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQXRXfOINO8).  But hasn’t it been fun and exciting meeting the Holman prize co-winners Ojok and Ahmet plus all the LightHouse team!  A wild round of meetings, breakfasts, lunches, briefings, trips, video shoots, interviews, catching up on the washing, technical IT training and lots more.

Drama of the first week was Ojok struggling to make his trip from Uganda after passport difficulties but he finally got here four days later and still was an absolute whizz when we visited one of the local bee farms.  He brought samples of his own honey which was completely different: smokey and spicey.

We’ve had lots of San Francisco food and the most odd was being offered a salad of “massaged kale”.  I had visions of Swedish-style cooks giving the reluctant leaves a good rub down in the kitchens so it was a bit disillusioning to hear that all they do is toss the kale in to brine.  But massaging is all the rage and a bit more authentic elsewhere: scrunching up the kale once it has been dressed with oil and vinegar to soften up the stems etc.

I’ve already posted the honey cake recipe I made while Ahmet and Ojok were sailing in the San Francisco Bay – I get too seasick to have joined them.  And there are lots more recipes to come from all the restaurants where I’ve been cooking once we have managed to edit the videos: peach galettes from One Market, seagrass cake and passion fruit mousse from China Live, barbecued shrimp and grits plus fried chicken and waffles from the Brown Sugar Kitchen, a bounty of different sourdough focaccia breads from the Cheeseboard Collective – and you wonder why I don’t sleep much!

My top drama of the week was escaping from a truly awful hotel where I spent the weekend solo and where they didn’t have the slightest idea about disability or accessibility.  I was rescued by Ben (another blind sailor) and Blanche who’d I’d met last Friday.  They welcomed Toby and I in to their Oakland home and have given us a real taste of wonderful, heart-warming American hospitality.   In a city of fast-action, hipster development and energy, there’s still the great friendship and kindness that has given this trip an outstanding start.

Finally, there is still that difference in language (the old potato and tomato “let’s call the whole thing off” song).  I was really taken aback to be called “bad arse” – not quite the done thing in the UK to have one’s posterior the subject of adverse comment – but it seems to be rather more positive here:   tough, competent and relentless!

Thank you to the LightHouse for all of these fabulous images and the experience itself!

 

Penny