• Category Archives Food
  • Wanted: Coffee Shop

    Roasted_coffee_beansI find it rather frustrating that there aren’t any good ole coffee shops anymore. Sure, you can go on down to a Starbucks or a Costa Coffee or some other big name coffee vending place but there’s zero atmosphere in these places. In most cases it’s nearly impossible to just sit and chat in these places because of the noise due to how busy they are.

    I remember some great coffee shops back in Canada and the US, the sort of places that comfy chairs and sofa’s with coffee tables, good cheap coffee and sort of atmosphere that allows friends to gather and chat.

    143-cappuccino-300x243Why am I righting about this?  Well, I went in to Cambridge today to meet up with a couple of friends, one of them picked an Italian Café called Café Milano, it’s more of a restaurant then a café but that was fine.  I was the first one there and asked about a table for 3 the bloke asked if we were planning to eat as he didn’t have tables available “just for coffee”.  Now, it was lunch time, but as a coffee shop it really struck me as odd that we wouldn’t be able to just sit and drink coffee.  As it was we’d decided to eat so all was “good” I guess.

    That was what got me thinking about why there aren’t any just good ole coffee shops.   I’m sure they must still exist, perhaps the people that know about them keep quiet out of fear of them becoming popular and getting over run, and I suppose I couldn’t blame them for it.

    cockeyed-coffeeI like the coffee shop in our village at the Cottenham Community Centre, they have a couple of comfy sofa’s which is nice, but they could do with a few more of them.  My only real complaint about the place though is because it’s an old Church, the very high ceilings do nothing for the noise levels in the place.  The coffee there is good and the nibbles are great, but the noise can really do your head in after a while.  They also have free WIFI, which I think these days is a bit of a must in coffee shops.

    Anyhow, just a small rant to ask where all the friendly little coffee shops have gone to Sad smile If you know of any and are willing to share, please let me know.

  • Bread Machines..

    Earlier this year I bought a bread machine.  Nothing special, just a cheapo £30 job from Argos I think it was.  It’s pretty basic, all ingredients are dumped into the baking/mixing pot and that’s that.   There were 2 reasons for getting a bread machine, 1) to make better bread then I could buy (better for you, less rubbish put in) and 2) try to save some money by making our own.  I’d found that while I could buy a decent loaf of bread for about 80p-£1 with 25 or 30 slices in it, we were chucking out 1/2 to 1/3 of a loaf as it would go bad before we could finish it.   Since getting a bread machine we’ve tossed out a mouldy loaf only twice in about 8 months.

    So, how do I make my bread?   Well, like anyone that gets a machine for a first time I went through some pretty bad attempts. 

    This was one of the failures.  I had 4 previous failures to this one, some ended up like this, others ended up with severe muffin tops.

    When I got the machine I’d tried the recipes that came in the book with the machine.  A couple worked fine some failed.  I Googled about and found THIS RECIPE.

    That worked fine exactly as it is, but the loaf was “small” not filling the machine, so I tinkered with it.  Slowly increasing things until I got the sized loaf I wanted and that work.


    So, now my standard recipe  is:


    500g of Flour (See notes below)

    300ml water

    2 teaspoons Yeast  (an easy bake sort of yeast for bread machines)

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    3 tablespoons sugar (I’ve used both castor and normal sugar, normal is cheaper and works 100%)

    4 tablespoons of powered milk mix (dry)

    4 tablespoons of oil (See notes below)

    Optional – add some seeds (See notes below)

    Set machine to “Light” loaf and Go..



    Flour – I normally use a mix of flours (250g of each).  The primary flour is Allinson Strong White Bread Flour, then I’ll add something else to it, such as whole wheat or a seeded flour mix, or just 500g of the white.

    Oil – Normally I use Olive Oil, I found it just adds a bit of flour over Veg oil.  I’ve also used Walnut oil and Peanut oil.  Both add a nice flavour, and smell to the bread

    Optional – If I don’t use a seeded flour I’ll add additional seeds to the mix myself.  One of my favourite seed mixes is the Tesco Wholefoods 4 Seed Mix, I’ll add 100g of these seeds to mix, very tasty.  I’ve also used 80g of Tesco Wholefoods Brown Linseeds. Or just use Sesame seeds, 80g.


    Since using the above I’ve only had 1 failure and I believe it may have been to “dead yeast” .. I chucked out the rest of the tin (not much left) and use a new package and it worked fine.

    What is you’re favourite Bread Machine recipe?