Blandishments

You would have thought that having reached a certain age I would be able to resist the little handwritten labels that can be found at the top right hand corner of the records they sell in Probe.

But there I was today leafing through the racks to waste a few minutes over lunch before going back to the office and my eye was caught by the words “massively recommended”.

Shit. I may never see this piece of vinyl again and who knows what I might have missed. I have been in there enough times and bought something just because it was what they had playing. If this was so good I better have it. Now.

Not only was it recommended but it was also “Brilliant trip-pop…think Broadcast,, Stereolab, United States of America, Strawberry Alarm Clock”. All of which sounded like very good advice on a wet and grey Wednesday afternoon. So I made my investment and have not been disappointed.

I was told last night that I was wasted as a lawyer and should go out and open up the record shop I would have been running if I had not gone ahead and passed my Law Society Finals.

I am not sure about a record shop as such but a small place selling good food with a record player in the corner playing a random selection from what I have got on the shelves sounds quite good. Of course I would have to be the one selecting the music.

Whilst thinking on that I have been making plans to make pies with some of the battered, rusty and encrusted pie tins that have sat for the last thirty years or so upstairs at Homebaked. I have washed a couple of them out and I think they will be okay to use. They have the dark black patina that comes from having spent years going in and out of high heat and the metal is thin with use. But line them with pastry and fill them with some cooked beef they should come out good.

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A day spent listening to John Grant

There was some dough left over from last nights pizza. I spread it out on a oven tray and put it in the fridge until this morning. I then took it out and put it somewhere warm to rise.

Once it was cooked it was as chewy and good as bread as it had been in the pizza. It must be the use of yogurt.

We had it with pieces of chicken cooked with garlic and bay leaves, more roast potatoes, beetroot with yogurt walnuts and dill and ratatouille.

We have spent the day listening to John Grant and The Czars.

It is worth saying that as I get older there is something worthwhile in being able to drag the kids along to the sort of music I like to listen to.

Somewhere upstairs and well hidden in the attic I have the two James Last albums which I think may be the only musical legacy I have left hanging over from my parents apart from Blondie (at Deeside Leisure Centre) being my first and Dads’s last and possibly only gig.

Getting pizza dough right before John Grant

One of the disadvantages of being a periodic maker of pizza dough is never being able to remember how you got it right last time.

I make pizza for the family about once every six weeks and sometimes it works and sometimes it could have been better. There is never any great consistency in how I go about making it and certainly no measuring of ingredients.

Last nights dough worked particularly well so here is an attempt to record what was done.

I started with about one pound of strong white flour into which I added a good table spoon of crushed sea salt and two tablespoons of Total Greek yogurt.

For the yeast I poured a sachet of dried yeast into about a pint of warm water and stirred in a couple of table spoons of honey.

I then stirred the water with its yeast and honey into the flour and started to mix it around with my fingers. It was very sticky to start so I added more flour as I went along until I got to a kneadable mass.

When kneading bread I time myself to the music I am listening to. Last night I kneaded through the first couple of songs on John Grant’s Queen of Denmark.

Halfway through the kneading I added some olive oil pouring a good glug into a well I had made in the dough and then working it in as I carried on kneading.

Once the two songs were finished I tipped the dough into a bowl and lubricated it with some more oil. It was then left for a couple of hours on a warm floor.

Forty mintes or so before eating I took enough of the dough to roll it out flat onto a large baking tray. That was kept warm for half an hour whilst I sweated onions and garlic with a tin of chopped tomatoes. The oven was put on full heat.

Ten minutes before eating I smeared the tomato sauce over the pizza and then added some thick rounds of salami and a generous handful of mozzarella cheese. More oil and plenty of salt and pepper went on for seasoning and it all went into the very hot oven.

Whilst it cooked I showered and picked out a bright orange jacket for John Grant.

It came out of the oven blistered and hot and just as a good pizza should be.We will have to see if I can make it again.

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John Grant was brilliant. He played for a couple of hours and I think everyone in the Phil would have been quite content for him to have gone on for another hour or so. I think he liked the jacket.

Moving around some history at Homebaked

I spent a couple of hours this morning in Anfield at Homebaked moving around some history.

Although downstairs is now a functioning bakery selling bread, pies and very good sausage rolls, upstairs is still as it was thirty years ago with added layers of dust and clutter. The intention is in due course it will be turned into good living accommodation – and what could be better than living upstairs of a bakery.

But before that work can started we needed to clear out some of the stuff up there so skips were ordered and I was there at 9.30 this morning with a pair of old gardening gloves to help shift some rubbish.

A lot of it was rubbish, broken chairs and window frames and pieces of glass, half empty paint tins, odd bits of metal, a box a dried yeast twenty fine years past its use by date, damp curtains, pieces of wood and more pieces of metal. There were boxes of old baking magazines and I had to resist the temptation to take those home to be read later.

In one room we found an old family bible that looked as it could have been as old as the hundred year old dust that billowed up from the linoleum that we pulled up from the floor. There were old counters that had to be broken apart before we could get them downstairs and leaning against a wall a large trough that was about 10 feet long and three feet long. All it need was a lid and it would have made a good coffin.

We left for another day the shelves stacked with old baking tins.

Most of them were black with rust and stuck solid together. There were all shapes and sizes. Some of the big ones looking large enough for the giant that could have fitted into the flour trough.

I was able to bring some of them home and they are now in the basement waiting for me to find something useful to do with them.

I rescued from the skip what looked a set of moulds for Easter eggs wrapped in copies of the Liverpool Echo dated 19 March 1965.

Back at home I made some dough for pizzas to eat before we go see John Grant this evening.