“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway” John Wayne

"Rodeo Cowgirl"

I had a fork thrown in my road since my last post.

 I have silly health bits. Nothing I was too worried about.

Dizziness and ear popping had become quite bad. So before our last trip to the homeland I asked a Doctor, worried about my popping ears on a 10 hour flight.

Thinking I’d get some big drugs for popping ears. No. He said ‘ooh exciting….maybe a brain tumour‘.

 So back to my last post, The NHS could be a blog in itself.  So I have battled the NHS

for MRI’s and blood tests.

Spending romantic nights on the couch cuddled up to Dr Google.  Twisting his ear about crazy high ESR rates, high inflammation, and chance rates with cancer.

How to get the NHS to think like a mother. Thinking like a mother…. scary to think like a mother when tumor has been mumbled by a doctor.

Webs'r'us

So Dr Google and I have as backup plans researched self-healing, food as cure. I have eaten ginger, beets and turmeric. My ESR has dropped.

Yesterday nearly 6 months after it was first mentioned. 3 months after my appointment with a specialist. Month and half after my MRI.  I had a doctor finally say my brain is clear. No tumours, no MS. Blood tests have said other cancers should not be a worry.

I’ve spent the past months holding my babies worried I might not be lucky enough to have them slam doors in my face in 13 years.

  Oddly my Forking thoughts were never far behind.

No body could have convinced me of the absurd love I would have for my children before they were sprouts inside my tummy.

But this restaurant in my head has been clear since I remember. I’ve scouted locations since I was 4. Yes 4. I was talking my idea with an acquaintance. He said ‘Bit early to choose locations don’t you think?’   All I could do was giggle.

I can taste the fork. I can feel it so close now. 40 years of wanting.

I am not a religious person. I am a spiritual person.

The past few months have been my test from beyond.

How hard will I work for this? Is it the best thing for my family?

How big can my life dream be? How do my babies fit into this picture?

Can I be a great Mom and a great manager?

Can I be a great life partner to my husband and a great restaurant owner?

This test, this fork in the road has brought me to the realisation that I have to try.

I have to jump into this Forking dream with all my passion and love. My family needs this.

I can not spend my life wondering if my passion could’ve been discovered.

I could sell a million towels, tyres or tomatoes for someone else.

I would die wondering if I could have built a happy Forking existence for others to enjoy.

 So with a clean heart (and brain) and a heavy slate of passion and plans.

Here we go. I will spend a few hours a week on business plan.

I will schedule appointments with the bank to find out what to do in the next 3 years to make my self more appetising as a financial investment.

My Brain on MRI

My Brain on MRI (Photo credit: CaptPiper)

I will write up menus, floor plans, recipes.

I will consult those wiser than me. I’m blessed to know chefs, Pub landlady’s, and business people.

I will ask people what they want from their Forkful.

I will do my best to keep you updated on this crazy process. I feel clear and ready.

I’m still dizzy. It does not worry me like it did. I’ll just need to design the kitchen so I don’t have to carry large pots of boiling hot food across the kitchen.

So if you do not follow me….Please follow me. Share me. Write me. Share with me.

 It’s all good. For your sincere loyalty you will be first on our opening night guest list.

I Had a Dream Last Night

Ossy's sandwich shop, Union Road, Oswaldtwistl...

I had a dream last night.

It was of the perfect little building. It was already a take-away sandwich shop. Serving mediocre cold food.

It was very busy. I was working there. It was not mine. Yet.

The people I was working with did not know I wanted it to be mine.

They were happy with how quick I was and Friendly with the customers.

I am a bit of a show pony. That is what we call it when many new people meet me. An American on the south coast of England. There are not many of us.

The outside was dingy. Old ratty pebble dash. The windows were dirty, The insides had stuff stacked in front of them.

The shelves behind the work counter had been merchandised some time in the 1980’s and left to age. They were a dirty old brown, meant to look like wood.

The beautiful wood floor had been painted dark brown.

The work counters were in front of a stair case. Filled with crap. Another thing un touched since the 1990’s.

Do they not realise that is seating area upstairs. With great views of the sea.

Then it was mine.

Later in the dream it was mine. I had friends come for a painting party.

I have spent years finely brainwashing people with food. Kind Neighbor will for a fact do anything….yes anything for buffalo wings.

We painted the outside white with a blue/ turquoise trim. We built a conservatory just off the front for a bit of added all season seating. Decking next to that, we are right on the beach.

Amazing Saint of a Plumber friend sorted out the pipes inside. He also built an outside shower to rinse of the sand, if you want. A little sand is not a problem.

Inside bead board wainscoting and shelves painted a nice accent turquoise. Everything else white. The floor stripped back to it’s virgin board, oiled and sealed. A couple new deli cases and stainless steel tables.

By the door shelving for fresh fruits and veggies you can buy and take with you. Silly to have it taking up our storage space. Upstairs painted and ready for table and chairs.

We stop to take breaks, there are tubes filled with cold drinks, wine and beer

(No alcohol if you’re using power tools. That was one of my dad’s wise rules he would have loved this.)

There is a bit of snack foods. Towards the end of the day I bring out the Crock Pot of BBQ ribs and bowls of salad Potato salad, green salad, cottage cheese salad

We turn the music up. We break in the decking with one mighty inaugural dance.

I love these people. I really do. They will be some of my regulars.

One difference.

They will eat for free for quite a while

Think of your favourite cafe…… Now read this!!!

Please heed this as a warning. Your old favourites maybe be desperate for your visit. In a time when it’s far to easy to find a satisfying deal at a chain. Yes your one visit may not save them. But every bit counts.
I have to admit I have not been back to M&D’s Cafe since I moved from Denver. The number of times I thought of it at the airport when leaving.
This place ruined me for fried chicken. Talk about love making food beautiful. I have not had fried chicken since my first visit, With out thinking if this place. Nothing will ever compare.
Someway I will find my husband and daughter a way to try proper soul food. But it won’t be M&D’s Cafe.

I found this posted on FB by a friend in Denver. It’s from the Westword the local events magazine.

M&D’s Cafe, An Iconic Denver Restaurant, Closes After More Than Thirty Years
By Lori Midson

Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Lori Midson
​While we were ushering in the New Year with friends, family and booze, several Denver restaurants were closing their doors. Over the weekend, Pearl Street Grill, India’s Pearl and OTOTO all shuttered; after fifteen years in its Park Meadows location, California Cafe quietly closed; and in what could be some of the saddest news we’ve heard since the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, yet another Denver restaurant — one that survived for more than three decades — served its last meal.
After 34 years, M&D’s Cafe, which first surfaced in 1977, locked the doors of its expanded space at 2000 East 28th Avenue this weekend, leaving a gaping hole in the city’s soul-food landscape.

M&D’s, which was owned by Mack and Daisy Shead, who began their long career in the barbecue business in Texas in the 1940s, was renowned for its gospel Sundays, fried green tomatoes and catfish nuggets, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie, housemade hot links and rib slabs. In 1998, former Denver mayor Federico Pena, who at the time was serving as Secretary of Energy in Washington, D.C., was desperate for a fix, so his staff made a call and asked the Sheads if they’d fix up a lunch for the homesick politician. Pena was FedEx’d an overnight delivery.

“A 34-year family legacy — my family — has just shut its doors in Denver,” laments Eulanda Shead, Mack and Daisy’s granddaughter. “I grew up busing tables and learning family kitchen secrets at M&D’s cafe, and my heart breaks at this loss.”

Still, she says, “My grandparents’ comfort-food legacy lives on. The things I’ve learned in the family restaurant business are truly transforming, and I’ll always cherish those lessons. I’ve learned what type of person I should marry over a warm bowl of peach cobbler shared with my grandma, and I’ve also learned that mastering the art of wit comes best when shared over granddaddy’s spicy catfish.”

But while Eulanda has fond memories of M&D’s — as do thousands of others — she’s quick to point out that we need to do our part to sustain independently owned restaurants: “Support local businesses, people. Do not let community gems like M&D’s go the way of the recession or lack of pockets.”

And, she pleads, “Please pass this on.”

Follow @CafeWestword on Twitter and at facebook.com/denvercafesociety

Next week my in laws are visiting. We will go to CASA PEPE our favourite locally owned and run restaurant since 1979. I will try and go at least once a month. I for one are not willing to loose them. More about CASA PEPE next week.

Eggs as Yellow as a Tuscan Sunset…

I love that my 2-year-old loves olives and goats cheese. She will try anything.

I know at nearly 29 months we are about to enter the beige food phase.

Maybe she will skip it maybe she won’t.

The other day we were at one of our favourite cafes.

Renarto Deli Cafe Bournemouth. Managed by Italians. Frequented by Italians.

The food is delicious and they serve the only cup of coffee I’ll order in Bournemouth.

The community table was filled with a whole family speaking in Italian.

It took me back to Tuscany. It seems Renarto’s eggs should be the vibrant yellow of Italian eggs.

If you have never been to Italy…If your lucky enough to one day go

You will remember reading about the yellow of the Tuscan eggs. I did. I read about them in a cookbook probably 8 years before my trip. I remembered.

After my trip my lovely Italian chiropractor asked what I liked about Italy. First thing I mentioned was the eggs. He seemed startled, confused even.

After a visit back to his family a few weeks later, He bounded up to me when I arrived at the office, like a puppy. Saying ‘wow I never realised the eggs….wow the eggs’.

Sadly he told me that visit he had decided to move back. I hate it when a chiropractor breaks up with me. My last one moved to Spain to train for the olympics, how dare she.

Ok, back to Renarto’s. The Bee and I strolled in last week.

The community table was full, we sat at a table next to it.

She politely said ‘owaowa pls mommy.’  The waiter came over she asked him the same thing. I translated  ‘still water please’.

We ordered a  ham and cheese sandwich for The Bee. A greek salad for me. I had the coffee that came with Bee’s sandwich.

A perfect cappuccino. absolutely perfect.

When our food came The Bee stood on her chair and matter of factly, gave me a slice of her sandwich, she took most of my olives and several of the big pieces of feta and peppers from my plate and put it  on her’s.

She sat down put her napkin on her lap and ate nearly all her food… and mine.

She munched away watching the waiters do their work.

She seems to have a bit of a weakness for tall dark and handsome men.  And surfers.

She eats and flirts quietly.

Midway through the meal the table of Italians, who had watched us carefully, get up to leave.

The youngest woman at the table asks me where we are visiting from. I say we live her but I’m from America.

She translates to the rest of the table they all smile and giggle.

She acknowledges The Bee is a great eater. Then says she thought I was foreign due to the ordering coffee. I say ‘ this is the only place I will order coffee, they know how to make coffee’ They laugh in agreement.

I worked down the street from Renarto’s for a few years. I would go in 7-10 times a week. Always fresh, delicious and the best coffee. The manager remembers me from back in the day. Always comes over for a visit.

If you ever find yourself in Bournemouth Town Centre, Renartos is highly recommended. For £10 The Bee and I had another delicious visit.

The menu is small but perfectly formed with a bit for everyone.

The good-looking Italians who work at and frequent this joint certainly doesn’t hurt the people watching.

New Years, new resolutions…

OOH, my Mom’s green chilli.

My Mom’s green chilli. Oh what I would do  just one more big pot of New Years Day Green chili. That was a family tradition. There were not many in my family. But that was one.

I live in England now. Led estray by my Englishman. Led very happily estray.

England is different to the US in many ways. Many ways I prefer it. There are a few I don’t. One being I can’t get the correct chili for green chili. I love every little bit of my house. Except the north facing garden. They would not grow if I tried.

One more difference is the availability of ready meals. Entire aisles are dedicated to them at the grocery.  In the frozen section there is hardly any.  It seems like it should be the same in the US.  This took me awhile to figure out. I think the difference in the welfare system. These meals in both places are aimed at people who either can not be bothered to cook healthy meals. Or do not have the time.

In the US Food stamps will not buy you ready meals. In the UK they give you cash to spend as you will when on welfare/ benefits. (This is probably more for my political blog. That may surface one day. When I feel like wasting some time on our stupid politicians. On either side of the pond. Of late they have not been worthy of my 2-year-old play time. She deserves it. They Do Not.)

People I know eat only ready meals. This seems alien to me. I feel guilty every Friday feeding my husband and daughter frozen fish, chips and a tin of mushy peas.

I rejoice in cooking for my family.

I will enter the New Year with plans for more home cooked food for my family.

 I will enter the New year with plans to share here more often. To share recipes and cafes  I love. Some far and wide and some here on my door step.

I will write recipes for the standards in my head. Some how I will figure out how to give you my recipe for my greeny goddess dressing, well kinda.

When I jumped across the pond there where some things I missed more than others. Salad dressings. I did not realize I equated restaurants to their dressings. Blue Cheese at Patsy’s, The Sanctuary and long gone Applegates landing. Olive Gardens, crack vinaigrette. I do not know what they do with that but I’ve had dreams about it.

I will spend my year ahead focusing on the new, treasuring the old.

I will share  with you my old loves. Patsy’s, The Sanctuary … and so many others, There are words I’d love to share about these.

I don’t know if you can a restaurant you have not been to in 10 years. I will give it ago. I will share my loves here. I will share my joys.

We will cook and plan. Cook for our families and plan our futures.

This year will be one filled with joy.  I hope you’ll join me.

The Biggest of Happy New Years to you and yours.

I am not a gourmet chef

Flanders, Netherlands

I am not a gourmet chef. I could be. I have the ability. I could gain the knowledge, the skills. I do not want to be a gourmet chef.

I want to be a great cook.

I do not want people to praise me for my food.

I want people to want my food.

I want people to wake up thinking of my food.

I will make delicious food made with fresh healthy ingredients. Food like your grandmother made. Food who’s recipes deserve sharing through the generations.

Like my mothers Red Chilli, German Potato salad from my dad’s Grandma, Grandma Wanda’s cheese ball.

I will serve basic delicious food. Cottage pie that’s loaded with hidden veggies. Spaghetti and Meatballs, with home-made garlic bread. Homemade salad dressings that change your relationship to salad.

If you miss something your Nan use to make. I will try to make it for you. If you have a special birthday request we will make it happen.

 I want to be the kitchen you don’t have to work in. My staff and I will take care of that. You can eat the food in our café or you can take the food away, hot or cold ready for your oven.

The obsession is growing more tangible by the day. This blog is giving the Fork in my head tines I can feel and see. I am on a 3-5 year plan. This gives me a starting point. I will blog my passion. It will create a map of the quest ahead.

I will look to my visitors here as guests in my café. This is giving me an outlet.

I will spend the next 2-3 years loving and treasuring my Sparkle Bee.

( well the next million years, my sweet treasure)

Then we will see….Someday, some how The Fork will be.

food ooh food

English: Coffee comes in may varieties, shapes...

I’ve had a dream. My whole life, well as long as I can remember, I have wanted my own cafe, restaurant, and deli.

Someplace that brings people together to share delicious food, great conversation. A place where memories are made. A place that someone knows they can find a great meal, snack or just the perfect cup of coffee or tea.

A war smile when they are feeling down. Someplace that is buzzing with happiness. But

quiet enough where you can still sit and read your book or do your work on a laptop. A cafe you feel comfortable sitting with strangers at the community table.

Where you walk through the door and the person behind the counter is making your drink. Ok so that is about the feeling of my cafe.

The food; Ooh the food. That is the real clincher. It will be a place where there is something for everyone. Made from scratch, using healthy fresh ingredients. It will be delicious and nutritious. The kind of food you think about the next day. I want to become the place you come to most often.

It may seem I missed out a word in the earlier sentence

IT,

it may seem like I missed it.

But I have not. As long as I can remember this cafe has lived inside of me. It is like waiting a Childs birth. All-encompassing.