About me

 

My passion for food

After my wife and son, my biggest passion in life is food. I started to cook for myself when I was 8 or 9. Here’s the recipe I used from the Something to Do book:

Scrambled Egg Recipe & Book CoverI wasn’t happy with the simple combination of eggs & milk, and so decided that some mixed herbs would go well. From then on, I was smitten with the idea of new food & flavour combinations.

This purpose of this blog is to share recipes, ideas and methods to help you to enjoy fresh, seasonal & sustainable food as well.

A dream fulfilled on the Llyn

Now I have my dream life. I write about food & cooking and work with my family to run a 3-acre smallholding on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales. When we’re not in cloud, our views are truly stunning. That’s not to say it’s idyllic. The land, weather and season’s cycles have a hold over us. Come rain, wind or shine stuff needs doing. And stuff happens that you don’t plan at the most inconvenient times.

Roof covered with tarpaulin

115 mph winds = no roof on Christmas Eve

We’re trying to manage our holding along Permaculture lines. Permaculture is a way to think about, design and use your environment so it is resilient and sustainable. For example, we’re developing a forest garden and grow perennial fruit & vegetables as well as the ‘normal’ annual crops.

We’re not completely self sufficient, but we aim at ‘optimum sufficiency’ given our land, time and energy resources. We keep chickens and in the past have kept geese, ducks, turkeys and pigs.

My food loves

I love fresh, seasonal and local food, prepared with skill & love to eat fresh or preserve for later.

I’m a keen fermenter of wine, beer, mead, vinegar, kefir products, kombucha and fruit & vegetables. I cure my own charcuterie and bacon. I love to include wild food that I’ve caught or foraged. I specially love baking bread and you’ll see plenty of sourdough and yeasted breads on the blog.
Sourdough Bread
I get a kick when I help other people learn how to prepare, cook and eat these ingredients in a way that fits into their lives.

I’m an omnivore and I cook loads of vegetarian and vegan food. Good food is good food regardless of whether it’s got meat in it.

London to Llyn life

My path to smallholding & food writing on the Llyn wasn’t clear to me until the mid-1990s and was certainly circuitous.

I was born and brought up in London. I’ve lived in the suburbs and in central London and loved the city life. I married Debs in 1989. When our son was born we were keen to have space and clean air where we could enjoy the outdoors on our doorstep. We made plans in the mid-1990s to make this happen. We finally moved to the Llyn in 1997 and I spent 4 years commuting weekly to London.

In the early 2000s, I swapped the money of corporate life for the time to live from and with the land & with my family. We’re financially much poorer and emotionally & spiritually immensely richer.

When I was 8 or 9, I could not have imagined being where I am now or how I would have made it to this point. But I’m glad I’m here.

After my early food preparation forays, I was lucky to have grown up in the 1970s. Then there were still many independent food traders around: the supermarkets had not yet taken over. And proper food was about to find the UK.

Early apprenticeships

My first part time job was in MacFisheries where I learned to sell & prepare fish, game and green-grocery. I then moved on to work in the non-bread part of Home Bakeries, getting used to 4am starts and the heavy work and camaraderie of a busy bakery. Both of these jobs were a great grounding in basic food appreciation & preparation. As I got older, I fully enjoyed the delights of working in off-licences and pubs. This was at a time when the New World varietal wines were just coming into England and the Campaign for Real Ale was getting going. It was a great time to learn about wine & beer and I seemed to take to it with aplomb.

It was also a time when cooking on TV was coming out of its staid 50s presentation in the UK. My earliest influences were the USA’s Graham Kerr, ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ and the unique Keith Floyd. They’re true inspirations and advocates of the joie de vivre of cooking with love using fresh ingredients.

Floyd on Fish book cover

Being professional

My ‘professional’ career has been described as ‘eclectic’. I’ve variously done accounting, law, corporate & public affairs management, government relations, procurement, commercial management, company secretarial duties and executive coaching. I’ve done many of these things both as an employee and as a freelance consultant.  On the way through I earnt a law degree (LL.B.) and a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Open Univesity. It’s not the standard CV of a food writer but there you go: I did an awful lot of cooking, eating & drinking along the way.

Probably not surprisingly, the things I learned doing all those jobs often come in handy in the more ‘business’ orientated aspects of my current life. I was lucky too, as I’ve sampled brilliant food in some great restaurants & hotels over the years as well.

For me though, nothing satisfies me more than home-grown food, cooked with love and eaten with friends & family.

Which is where I am now.

Result!

 Posted by at 13:53

  27 Responses to “About me”

  1. Hello Carl,

    I’ve just found you on Twitter via @monicashaw. She pointed me in the direction of your kefir cheddar – this looks really exciting. I have a yoghurt kefir and a water kefir which I take regularly and they are both very happy and growing at a rate of knots! My water kefir has been dehydrated and has travelled to places as far flung as San Francisco and Madrid where it is thriving (I hope!).

    Just thought I’d drop you a line as it’s great to know someone else who is a kefir enthusiast. I’ve also made kombucha in the past but have settled down with water kefir grains as my drink of choice. During the summer I was making coconut and strawberry kefir and watermelon kefir was delicious but now I’m back on the regular one which I make using sugar and molasses on the first ferment then apple juice on the second – it’s like the grains have been working out at the gym – they love that molasses!

    Anyway, I’m really interested in the cheese thing. Is there a section on kefir in your book?

    Thanks,

    Tara Clist
    @taras_table http://www.tarastable.co.uk

    • Hi Tara

      Twitter is a wonderful thing for spreading the word. It’s great to ‘meet’ you. My book doesn’t go into kefir, it’s much more about how to use seasonal ingredients sustainably. The cheese was an experiment which seems to have worked, so I’ll do more and blog more about it.

      I’ll drop you an email about the cheese 🙂

      Cheers
      Carl

  2. Apologies if the other comments have gone through – I am confused about how this works. I just wanted to say that your work is wonderful, and thank you for the tabaka and sunflower petals. And how incredible to have found you – kefir and fermented berries are in my blood, so this is a very special find indeed!

    • Hi Olia

      This comment has made it!

      Thanks so much for your kind words here and on Instagram. Thank goodness for Google and finding your tabaka & tkemali recipe. An even bigger bonus that you are a kefir fan too.

      I look forward to lots more sharing and learning.

      Carl x

  3. I found your blog by a very circuitous route. About 15 years ago my late husband and I spent a day in Tangiers (we were on a small-group tour of Spain) and took a day-trip with a crowd of tourists. We stopped mid-day at a small restaurant and among other things, we were served harira chicken soup. I was smitten. I’ve never forgotten that soup. Currently I’m watching a program here in the U.S. with Anthony Bourdain where he travels to very off the beaten path places and eats (like cocoa beans in Peru, ricotta in Sicily, etc.) and the show I just watched was about Tangiers. My memories of the city came rushing back. The visit to the spice shop as well as the little cubbyhole restaurant where we had the soup. At that time I hadn’t a clue about Morrocan spices particularly (although I can buy most of them here now if I search them out – and we do have a Moroccan restaurant a few miles away). Wish I’d known more. Anyway, today I went searching online for recipes for the soup. Finally settled on two that I thought I’d try and one of them mentioned smen (never heard of it prior to now), so I did a search about that and came to your site. I enjoyed reading about your history. My husband and I have visited England so many times I can’t count them all and have friends dotted all over the country (Cheltenham, Taunton, Chester and Nottingham). Last trip we spent some days in South Wales. I write a blog too – http://tastingspoons.com. I doubt I’ll make smen, but I found your whole life story interesting, including your hypothetical day-in-the-life of a Moroccan man. I’m going to add your blog to my RSS reader. Thanks for sharing your stories.
    Carolyn Thurston, Santa Ana, California

    • Hi Carolyn

      Thanks so much for saying hello and for your story of how you found me 🙂

      And thanks too because I now have the fun of reading about all the delicious things on your lovely blog. You have such a yummy collection of varied recipes.

      If you ever end up near my part of North Wales, you are welcome to pop in and talk food & travels 🙂

      Carl

  4. Hello Carl (and Debs/JJ),

    I received my copy of ‘Permaculture Kitchen’ in the post this morning and CANNOT wait to try some of the delicious sounding recipes. There is so much really good and useful information about cooking, flavours, presentation with so many variations on a theme making the book great value for money. I do not know where to start actually. Certainly any mother would be thrilled to get a copy this Sunday!

    I have visited you at home in North Wales and had the pleasure of you cooking for me Carl and the fantastic photos in the book took me right back there – gorgeous house, garden, view the combination smells of cooking and logs burning…lovely, lovely and of course great company.

    I hope the book is a roaring success, I will recommend it across Yorkshire!

    Love and peace to you and yours,

    Kate (Watford days buddy) Lovett xxx.

    • Hi Kate

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Do you remember the hummus lessons from the Watford days? 🙂

      Carl x

      • Hi Carl,

        I do remember the hummus.. yum..it is a shame it did not make it to the book, but there is always book 2.

        Kate xx.

  5. Truly inspirational, i look forward to readin more on your site and your tweetsg

  6. Just having another read of your site and came across this page, there was an instant OMG I remember THAT book moment. Cheers !

    • Hi Claire, haha, it is that sort of book isn’t it? Lots of happy memories in there 🙂

  7. You sent a real blast from the past with your cover picture of the Puffin book, “Something to Do”. I loved that book! and mine was every bit as well thumbed as yours appears to be. I’m sure it inspired a whole generation of us to want to get out and do something, even if it was only making doll’s house furniture from conkers and pins.

    • Hi Helen, it’s such a good book which has really lasted the test of time. I spent hours & hours with my nose in it when I was a kid 🙂

  8. Hi Carl,
    Since I enjoy your site and blog posts, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

    If you’d like to read and repost the award, here’s the link: http://bellaandwill.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/versatile-blogger-award/

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.
    Catherine

  9. Please keep the blogging going! You may be halfway across the world from my little farm in New Hampshire, U.S., but your challenges and successes are almost exactly the same.

    I’m on Twitter @organicfarmguy

    I Tweet most every day about the happening on King’s Grant Farm, c. 1769

    Be well.

    • Hi Mario

      Thanks for visiting and saying ‘Hi’. I’ve found you on twitter and look forward to hearing your adventures.

  10. Hi Carl

    Your website looks great-a likeminded soul!

    I live on the Isle of Anglesey and we are developing a 6 1/2 acre smallholding under permaculture principles. It would great to meet up sometime to share skills and knowledge. For more information about what we do please have a look at our website: cornhelyg-permaculture.co.uk

    hope to hear from you soon

    Warm wishes Jules

    • Hi Jules

      Thanks so much for the feedback. Your project on Anglesey looks great and a meet up would be good to do.

      I’ve edited your comment so that your website address is now clickable 🙂

      Keep blogging to let us all know how things are going 😉

      Cheers
      Carl

  11. Ooh! Shiney new website! And Hello!
    Like your new home on the web 🙂

  12. Flippin Heck!!! First of all congrat x such lovely w site. Clear simple concise…hurrah! So many things to learn about.
    Second..nice to know a bit more about you.
    #maditalian

    • Ciao Carla

      Grazie mille for such nice comments, glad you like my new abode 🙂

      Pop back soon, I welcome your kind of madness here

      C x

  13. Lovely to find out more about you Carl, almost enough info to satisfy my nosiness. Lovely web site, look forward to visiting it often,
    Mitch

  14. Wonderful achievement! It’s great having all your articles, recipes with all the trimmings on one place, neatly organized! I love the caption on your profile photo “Hello” 😉

    Congratulations and looking forward reading your future posts!

    • HI Gregoire

      Thanks for popping by and taking the time to comment 🙂

      Now I’ve got the skeleton here, I can concentrate on writing more recipes and tips.

      Merci Chef!

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