We’re building a cake kitchen / micro-dairy – somewhere where I can make cakes, pastries and cheese.
Why, you might ask, don’t you just use your normal house kitchen?
For one very good reason.
Our house kitchen is more of a farmhouse kitchen – that is, we see it as part of our efforts to develop strong, complex immune systems. It is a place where all sorts of animals pass through including lambs, cats, dogs and various poultry chicks; you can find all sorts of bits and bobs – sheep hammocks, pig and sheep medicine, mucky boots, eggs for hatching, half a mouse, etc etc.
Of course we don’t get ill, we just keep building up our immunity. But not an ideal environment for commercial cooking – hence the cake kitchen /micro-dairy which will be perfectly and utterly clean.The journey to make the cake kitchen /micro-dairy started way back before Christmas when we cleared out all of the ‘very, very useful stuff’ we were storing in it.
You know those tv programs where a camera crew visit the houses of hoarders and every room in their house is full of rubbish or ‘really important’ stuff and there are only tiny little pathways between towering boxes of things? No-body starts out thinking I will become a hoarder, it just creeps up on you – I know.
The micro-dairy/cake-kitchen was used as our storage room. We put up shelves and everything. We kept useful things in there. Then, when the shelves filled up we started to stack things on the floor, more and more and more. By the end you could only just get in there. We had a number of other large walk-in cupboards and rooms that we similarly stacked high – one was stuffed full of bedding. My office, in contrast, was full of books (and very important pieces of paper I hadn’t looked at for 20 years); books that were precariously stacked on a long pew, shoved under the pew, in piles on the window sill, on and under various desks as well as spilling out of book cases. The kitchen may also have had a corner that included my rather defunct kombucha factory (sorry Mary) and 20 odd jars of medlar jelly that hadn’t set properly but which I really couldn’t let go of because I was sure I could do something with them – both of these may have been there for a couple of years!
Do you want to know an interesting, but faintly disgusting fact? We have cats, they bring birds and mice in. They don’t always finish eating them and they hide them behind, or under, piles of stuff. In the summer flies lay their eggs in these decomposing little bodies. You can smell maggot-infested dead mouse, but it can be hard to locate if your house is full of ‘really important’ stuff that is piled up everywhere. However, the smell only lasts a couple of days and then it mysteriously goes away. I now know what is happening here – the maggots eat all the little animal, then they in turn die or turn into flies and the bare bones of the creature are left perfectly preserved. I may have found this desiccated bird behind a pile of books.
It was time for a clear out. So I went through everything, recycling, giving away, cleaning and letting go. It really was quite cathartic and now there are no piles of boxes, books, and stuff for dead animals to rot behind.
More importantly, clearing out the ‘store room’ meant we could start on the micro-dairy/cake-kitchen. First I tiled and grouted the floors.
Then James started to build the kitchen.
The plumber and electrician came and did their stuff. We bought a cooker, dishwasher and three small fridges – separate fridges for dairy, meat and vegetables to minimise cross-contamination. Now all I have to do is tile/grout the walls and it will be nearly ready.
N.B. the kitchen is white, not blue – this is just the protective plastic.
N.B. This room used to be my grandad’s indoor workshop where he made jewellery and stuff. I kind of like the fact that I will now be making cakes and cheese here – things stay the same and they change. Some years ago now, I also wrote Doing History in this room – when it was still sort of a workshop, before it became the store-room.
N.B. I should say that I do take food hygiene very seriously when cooking for others (despite my obviously dubious practices in my own kitchen). I am working through my safer food workbook and I am obsessively committed to doing everything properly (plus I want to get a five in the hygiene rating) – this might be the whole ‘academic attention to detail, wanting to exel’-thing manifesting itself in a different guise!