I’m now a Bread Angel!

Very excited to become a Bread Angel!

Very excited to become a Bread Angel!

Yep, I attained my Bread Angels ‘wings’ on Sunday thanks to expert guidance from Bread Angel 'Ma Baker' aka the delightful Liz Wilson based in Fulham, West London.

The Bread Angels home baking network was founded by Jane Mason of Virtuous Bread fame and was created to allow people around the world to buy, make, learn about, share, and eat good bread. The initiative is growing healthily, so I'm really chuffed to join the worldwide ranks of over 200 Bread Angels!

It’s been quite a journey since I started baking bread many years ago when my boys were very young, to embarking on a new venture inspired by Virtuous Bread, so I thought I'd share a few of key steps I took to earn my wings. 

My husband is Eastern European and he inherited his family’s love for bread, but I was concerned that the shop bought bread contained more than the advertised flour, yeast, water and salt. I had an inkling that something was going on and there was, starting with the highly profitable Chorleywood Method. This industrial process is used to produce 80% of the world's bread, resulting in mass distributed, low nutrition bread-mix pulp. Whilst setting up my company 'DiCooks' I felt it timely to investigate the facts more closely and see if I could offer more nutritious, healthy and tastier bread to my customers.

The first real break through was meeting the real bread world's Godfather Andrew Whitley at the launch of his highly influential book, Do Sourdough slow bread for busy lives. Winner of the prestigious Andre Simon Award - Andrew's ability to slice straight through rogue internet forum opinion and false rumour in an informed and approachable manner was both insightful and very encouraging. Another key stage was attending the 'Real Bread: the Uprising' international conference where Andrew delivered a deeply alarming keynote speech detailing just how far the giant food processing companies (supplying all our supermarkets) have gone to in making the ‘Staff of Life’ not only increasingly inedible but, with growing evidence, making many people ill.

The 20 minute speech is well worth viewing - delivered by a seasoned food industry veteran who has been campaigning for good, healthy bread for 30 years.

Those resourceful meetings led me to become a member of the Real Bread Campaign which does invaluable work getting the message out there, and exposing just what’s going on with our precious bread supply. Whilst honing my bread making skills, I learned of Bread Angels through the Real Bread Campaign and living in a small, semi-rural community, I realised that it would be the perfect place to spread the word and really embrace the core message of Bread Angels. The rest, they say, is history.

I started Di Cooks with my Cookisto night which has rapidly grown into a regular, successful takeaway for local people. Using fresh, mostly seasonal ingredients to make tasty dishes that you won't find in your regular high street takeaway outlet, my Cookisto menus have provided a perfect testing ground to stealthy promote my Honest Bread by providing hunks of fresh bread with each dish. I'm delighted to say that these offerings led to frequent requests for additional bread-only orders, which now make up part of my weekly business. 

Now I’m Bread Angel approved, I'm ready to extend my commitment to promoting and delivering real bread by launching 'Honest Bread' making workshops to teach how easy, economical and therapeutic bread making is. My Honest Bread classes will start in January 2016 with dates announced soon. The real bread community cannot resist a pun, so in keeping with tradition, my classes are something you knead to kick-start 2016...

If you would like to be the first to know about my Honest Bread making class dates and prices, please drop me a message at diana@dicooks.co.uk I will also post this information, along with my regular news, cookery tips and opinions via Twitter @DiCooks & Facebook page

Sourdough Revelations!

I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew 'sourdough bread guru' Whitley on Wednesday evening whilst attending his latest book launch at Impact Hub located right in the heart of a rejuvenated  King Cross area in London. 

In short - he turned my understanding of the sourdough making process on its head. Andrew's thoughts and anecdotes made for an informative and extremely enjoyable evening. 

As a co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign and a trustee of the Soil Association, Andrew's philosophy and lifetime dedication to the greater awareness of food and its relationship with modern society is exceptional. 

Andrew's passion with wholesome bread began when he was a student travelling across the Soviet Union, which was a far cry from the low nutrient, white 'pap' gaining popularity in the UK. He brought back some sourdough starter, who's descendants / DNA he still sells to this day. 

More information about his latest book 'Do Sourdough – Slow Bread for Busy Lives' can be found here or click on the cover below - next to my fangirl piccie... 

DiCooks' First Cookisto!

The early evening of May 9th 2014 witnessed DiCooks' first Cookisto night, and what a fantastic beginning to my new 'foodie heaven' enterprise it was - all customers were very excited to be part of my fresh culinary service cooked in my home kitchen in Aston, Hertfordshire.

Some customers had heard through the local grapevine, others in local media, that my first dishes for sale were Chicken Tagine + Jewelled Couscous, home baked Maneesh,  Black Olive + Pinenut bread and Labneh. I met some lovely people that I'd never met before and we even managed to share a glass of celebratory wine with them!

I was seriously chuffed to receive the following comments & feedback later in the evening. Here are few to tempt you into placing an order for my next Cookisto on 23rd May. You contact me diana@dicooks.co.uk or 07811 356046.

"Wow! That was amazing! We loved our takeaway - it was delish, and we weren't expecting the 'extras' which were wonderful, so long may your enterprise continue and I think we will be regulars! Portion control - probably could have shared one c-c between two? But much better to have too much than too little! Xx Marg" / Margaret & Geoff Gibbs

"Hi Diana - We have just finished eating and we both agreed that the food was delicious. It all worked really well together (along with the yoghurt) and the flavours were really lovely. You could not have done anything to improve it. Could we also order 2 portions of the PORK AND NEW POTATOES for the 23rd May. Regards Graz & Tony" / Graz & Tony Murphy

Voluntary selfies below... :-)