There are lots of things which make me happy. Is it the smell of home made bread in an oven warmed kitchen? Is it playing an unnecessarily long-winded game of Uno with the kids? Or is it getting them involved in the kitchen with food colouring and a sponge mix, whiling away a few hours to make this?
Perhaps is it sitting out in the evening sunshine, with a barbecue on the go, and a cold beer in hand?
That one ranks pretty highly actually.
All of those things which make me happy happened this weekend. Yeah, although I sometimes like to give the Welshman a bashing in my blogs, a long weekend away in the Brecon Beacons is one of the few perks I get from going out with someone whose balance oft becomes a daily liability, and whose sense of humour can be childishly inane.
Having lived in Cardiff, I know that Welsh weather can be tremendously shit. I’ll take this weekend’s glorious sunshine as a small life win and I’ll lift up my chilled Peroni and bid adieu to the jet stream which has festered around us for weeks like a bad smell.
My trip to Mid South Wales has given me a bit of blog fodder; it has made me want to write about working hard and what you can achieve from scratch with drive and talent. I wanted to write this post because although I am effectively giving a plug to the Welshman’s ma, she is also a mighty fine baker and cook who has worked astonishingly hard to get her business to where it is today. Regardless of my connection with her, she deserves the recognition in this small humble blogpost (trust me, if she wanted to promote herself she could – she’s got an audience of several thousand Twitter followers). In the beginning she just made bread and cakes for friends, and with word being spread as quickly as the jam that buttered them, she quickly gained a reputation for melt-in-the-mouth Welsh cakes, flapjacks, juicy pork-filled sausage rolls, in addition to so many other things. Then the business started expanding, and for a while she catered for a local society, stood outside Crickhowell Market every Saturday come rain or rain (remember this is Wales), and catered for well-attended local events.
Then came Welsh Cakes Online. It does what it says on the tin, but you’ll have never had a Welsh cake like hers before, I can guarantee.
Deb’s Kitchen opened in March. Initially she’d wanted it to be just that, a kitchen shop; a place where you could pick up a light bite to take away and have a browse at kitchen utensils and equipment made by local traders. A few enquiries for a fresh coffee with their sausage roll, and a a couple of patio chairs later, Deb’s Kitchen is fast becoming the honey pot cafe of Crickhowell.
Deb’s business started off from home; long hours spent quite literally over a hot stove, 4am starts, midnight finishes. It all started in her home kitchen. Despite all the hard work that has, and still does go on, I love coming here. There’s fresh eggs from the chickens and in the corner and you can guarantee there’s leftovers waiting to be picked at on the family-sized table. The shelves alternate between clear glass containers of sultanas, dried coconut, demerara sugar, and family photos. Pots and pans hang from the ceiling; everything has its own space and is tightly packed in – I dare you to remove something – it’s like kitchen Jenga that Debs has perfected.
Whenever I leave Wales I get an irrepressible urge to cook more at home, be more experimental, and just generally make more of an effort. Working can quite quickly shake that sort of idealism out of you. However, I do appreciate the time spent in here to give me that kick up the backside every three months. And let’s not forget, when you see a view like this for the past four days, with a cold beer in one hand, there’s no finer way to recharge.