Taste of the East with sweet and sour chicken.

You can watch me make this on YouTube or download the recipes here

John is used to making this straightforward sweet and sour sauce in 3 gallon vats so he scaled the whole recipe down.Penny and John ready to cook

Although this dish may not be very traditional, it is simple to make at home.

Hot rice must be treated with respect.  If you want to use later for this dish or perhaps a cold rice salad, it needs to be cooled very quickly to make it safe.  Just leaving a pan full of cooling rice is too risky.  If not cooling under cold water, spread as thinly as possible on a tray and place in the fridge immediately.

For the sauce, make it thicker than you think necessary – it will become thinner when the chicken and its juices are added.

Tasting is essential for this recipe: the balance of sweetness from the sugar needs to be balanced to your taste with the sharp sour vinegar.  Keep adjusting until it is right, adding salt and pepper too.

This seemed like a lot of sugar to me – perhaps an alternative sweetener could make the whole dish rather more virtuous?

You could add some five spice powder to the egg-fried rice and slithers of fresh root ginger to the sauce.

The spring onion garnish was fairly simple: trim to cut off the roots and about half of the leaves.  Slice the onion from about an inch from its base to the tops of the leaves once on each side (dividing this section in to four).  Place in a bowl of water with ice and the onions will curl where they have been cut.


Penny Melville-Brown OBE

You can support the Holman adventure too: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/penny-melville-brown

And the earth moved …

Back in the 1980, sipping pre-dinner drinks in the WRNS officers flat in Naples when the whole building really rocked.  We put it down to being rather heavy handed with the gin until sounds of chaos penetrated from the city: it had been a major earthquake damaging many buildings across the area.  Many of the Neapolitans moved out of their houses – preferring to live in their cars and fearful of further collapses from the after-shocks.  I think we assumed the appropriate stiff upper lip and carried on with dinner.

Just one of the amazing experiences of three fabulous years in Naples at the NATO headquarters.  We lived at the main Allied Forces South base but crossed the causeway to the Naval base on the island of Nisida.  I was even lucky enough to be flown home to RAF St Athan for a month to learn to drive.  Take my word, Naples was definitely not the place for a newly qualified driver: 11 accidents in the first year but only 3 went to insurance claims and did secure two years no-claims bonus at the end.  One quickly learned that traffic lights were purely advisory and one-way signs didn’t apply in the rush hour.

I continued the shooting I’d started at Dartmouth but moved to skeet.  The range was part of the American sports grounds in the middle of a dormant volcano.  I did a little competitive shooting and, because there were few other women, was respectably ranked alongside the men.

There was so much more going on: first car and then my fantastic Capri, Vice Commodore of the sailing club, outrageous parties, exploring Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean.  But the work was good too: I soon got bored of being just the administrator of the Intelligence Division and was able to get more directly involved in the material, exercises and inspections.  A high point was a surveillance flight over the soviet ships anchored off Hammemet.

And we had a great bunch of Wrens with us too (even if they did call the Shore Patrol when a party got too noisy).

Memories of the very best that a career in the Navy can offer: hard work, hard play and good people

You can support the Holman adventure too: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/penny-melville-brown-1


Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd http://www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube


Elegantly small and simple cakes that take minutes.

I made and cooked these delightful little cakes during an interview with BBC Radio Solent’s Kitchen Garden programme.  Tiny cakes packed with flavour that will grace any tea-time but that take less than half an hour to make.

And I showed them some of the very simple changes I’d made in the garden to make it more friendly for anyone who can’t see: raised pavers to act as a guide on all the footpaths, water features and lots of fragrant plants to stimulate other senses, plants with strong architectural shapes and leaves for those with some sight.

Equally important for all my cooking is a great selection of herbs ready to add to any salad or other dish.  And tucked around are pottery sculptures I’ve made: even if I can’t see them, I remember what they should look like.


You can support the Holman adventure too: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/penny-melville-brown

Keeping in touch with your local community.

Interview with Penny on Talking Newspapers

Talking newspapers bring the news, articles and, in my case, interviews to their local communities.  You don’t have to be visually impaired to be able to get this service – it is available to anyone.  Nowadays, the spoken word is delivered on a memory stick – just plug-in and play on very easy-to-use players with a few straightforward buttons.

I was whisked away to a small stone building in the car park of adjacent village, Stubbington, for an interview about Baking Blind and the Holman prize with the Fareport Talking News (www.talkingnews-fareport.org.uk).  In a tiny studio not much bigger than the average utility room, Suzie the volunteer technician and Carl who leads this local initiative, tested me for sound levels and put me through my paces.

They’ll offer the interview to the other local talking newspaper groups and even colleagues across the national Federation of Talking News (www.tnf.org.uk).  There’s even a chance it may get to the British Wireless for the Blind (www.blind.org.uk) that will loan sophisticated radios with internet facilities which give access to international programmes.

If you know someone who wants to keep in touch with what is happening locally but can’t manage the papers, this might be the answer.  There’s almost certainly a similar service close by so call the Federation on 01793 497555 and, for Fareport Talking News, Carl Cater on 01329 664364.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube



My youngest co-cook so far

Penny and Luke in the herb gardenRosemary, sun-dried tomato and olive savoury sconesWatch me make them on YouTube and download the recipes here


Young Luke turned his hand to sweet scones so I could focus on a savoury version.  He’s got his own YouTube channel too – game playing with his unique vocalisation for each character.

Luke cutting out his sweet scones

This is a basic scone mix that you can vary to suit the occasion and your taste buds.

For a traditional Cornish cream tea, split the scones horizontally and then spread with jam followed by whipped cream.  A Devon cream tea uses clotted cream before the jam.

Small savoury scones topped with a flavoured butter, pate, salami, ham or whatever else inspires you can make delicious canapes.  I’ve often used just a couple of tablespoons of horseradish sauce (instead of the olives, tomato and herbs) and topped the scones with smoked salmon or smoked mackerel pate with a thin quarter slice of lemon.


Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.comLuke adding his ingredients