Cooking 2

Tonight saw the conclusion of the Masterchef 2012 competition. I was thrilled to see Shelina winning the competition, which has now been reported on BBC ( I had been wondering who would win the competition, as I did think that it would be the last cook-off which would secure the Masterchef title for any one of the three finalists.

I knew who my favourites were: Andrew and Shelina. I liked the way Andrew came across – gentle, kind, humble. Shelina had been great with her time-keeping and demonstrated admirable cooking skills. I loved their heartfelt smiles. To tell you the truth, I think I was rooting for either one of these two contestants not just because of their skill in the kitchen, but also for the way their innate character seemed to shine through what they said and did.

I cannot hold a candle of course to any one of these fantastic cooks, including the ones that went before them. However, I can regale you with another humorous story of our first few days in the kitchen of Blenheim Lodge.

Our first weekend at Blenheim Lodge was a wet one. Sheets of rain poured down in spades over the weekend. On late Saturday afternoon, someone rang the doorbell. A very wet person stood at the door, his macintosh dripping with rain. I answered the door and he asked if we had rooms available to let that night. Well, we did, but we did not really want to let out any more rooms as we were still trying to get to grips with cooking in a kitchen new to us and also trying to master the art of cooking for and serving a roomful of people within an allotted time span.

I looked at the wet American gentleman at the door and felt sorry for him. He was absolutely soaked, and I did not have the heart to turn him away, so I told him the truth. ‘We are new,’ I said, ‘and we have never run a B&B before, so we are still trying to get to grips with serving cooked breakfasts to our guests in a kitchen new to us. We were not going to let out any more rooms tonight because of this. If you wish to stay, we would be delighted to have you, but can you choose an easier breakfast option, like home-baked croissant and muffin?’

Our lovely gentleman agreed and stayed on – and he chose the croissant and muffin for breakfast too. How kind! The next morning, he asked if he could stay another night. I said that we would love him to stay but we would still require him to choose an ‘easy’ breakfast as I was still learning how to fry eggs (remember, I do not eat fried eggs and had never fried one before we arrived at the Lodge).

Well, what do you know? Our guest chose poached eggs on toast for breakfast. Now, for those of you who make lovely poached eggs and find them a doddle to cook, I want to take my hat off to you. I had never poached an egg before. I had never eaten a poached egg before. I did not even know what the texture of a poached egg should be like. What a fine mess I was in!

So, dear Hubby decided to help. That afternoon, he went to the ironmongers and bought me an egg-poaching pan. That evening, my husband and his brother who was staying with us had 12 poached eggs between them for dinner, all of them looking rather sad in one way or another. I would not eat the eggs, as I will not eat runny eggs and poached eggs are runny. By 9 pm, I had cooked 18 eggs, six of which went to a delighted dog, which thought Christmas had come early.

The next morning, I served our gentleman his poached eggs. Wonder of wonders, they turned out rather well! It is a good thing indeed that we use local produce and always order our dairy products and eggs the night before so that the milk float can deliver fresh the next morning at our door. Otherwise, we would have run out of eggs for the next morning’s breakfast as the supermarket does not open until after breakfast at the guest house has begun.

And the tale comes with a happy ending. The next year, our kindly guest returned with his wife and seven friends to stay with us. We took him and his wife out to dinner to say thank you for his forbearance the year before when he co-operated with us regarding breakfast, and we had a great time hosting them all.

A table with breakfast items at Blenheim Lodge

Enjoy a lovely breakfast at Blenheim Lodge. I have now fried and poached numerous eggs, and can attest to the fact that we have had plenty of compliments on the breakfasts we serve.

‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

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