Saturday, June 26, 2010

Best Workplace

A piece of research into good workplaces highlighted that things like gyms and massages being available made the biggest difference to workplace enjoyment.
This is an important issue for YamDaisy Cafes. No, I don't mean putting a gym into every YamDaisy Cafe! But I am thinking about the things that really make a difference in the workplace.
The whole idea of the YamDaisy Cafes running as a franchise is to give a whole system of back up to the individual Chef/Managers.

Just a couple of things: Gyms and massages! The YamDaisy franchise could do a deal with a local gym so that chefs have access to gym and massages. I think this would be a good thing when the job is very physical and no doubt stressful.

Another thing I keep thinking about is the isolation of working in a small cafe. There is a lot that could be done with internet groups, but more is needed. The franchise could organise training opportunities. As well as learning or sharing skills, the YamDaisy chefs would have a chance to get to know each other and share experiences.

This would open up another strand of employment: 'Emergency' Chefs who are able to go in and take over the Cafe while the chef is away. This is important to give the flexibility of training and so that a chef can take time off for family or in case of illness, and even a vacation. Someone can have fun working out how this would work: maybe it can be built into the insurance. Anyway, it would take away that load that so many chefs have that they have to keep going no matter what is happening to their family or their health.

The YamDaisy idea has a social justice aim. The idea is to improve lives, and we don't want chefs burning out under the strain of a poorly organised, stressful position. A lot will be asked of YamDaisy Chefs, and so it is important that all that can be done to best support them is done, and is done well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

YamDaisy Cafe and the Question of Cake!

This wonderful cake, made with whole pieces of dried and apricots, pears and other fruits, is so healthy it is hard to believe it tastes good. My sister discovered it many years ago when my mum was following the Pritikin diet which didn't allow any added sugar or fat. The sweetness and richness come from the fruit ~ bananas are used in the cakey bit that holds the fruit together.
As we were sharing this cake, my sister commented that it would be a good one for the YamDaisy cafe, and that inspired this post, because I am still working out what place cakes and biscuits should play in the YamDaisy Cafes.

Delicious, Everyday, Affordable food. 
That is the mantra (and extends to 'seasonal. local, made from scratch' ). It is the 'everyday' bit that brings up questions about cake. There is 'everyday' food, and there is 'sometimes' food. Which category does cake go in?

Do you have that 'little bit of something' with your cuppa everyday?

This is Chocolate Beetroot Cake, it is luscious and moist with a deep, wonderful flavour. Then there is Carrot Cake, Banana and Walnut Cakes... Should the YamDaisy Cafe make a specialty of fruit anf vegetable cakes?
Here is a whole book of them! (Thanks for the link Jutta)

Support Local Cafes
I call the YamDaisy Cafe a cafe, but it is different to most cafes with their display of mouth watering pastries and the industrial coffee machine sitting on the counter.
The YamDaisy Cafe isn't meant to be in competition with the local cafes, we want their support.
If someone wants a coffee and cake, that is the place to go.

So should the YamDaisy Cafe have coffee and cake at all?

This pretty one contains beetroot and almonds!
 It is a birthday cake.

Surely the YamDaisy Cafe can make a Birthday Cake for a valued customer! I already wrote a post about this here:

Off Display
One thing I have considered is that any cakes and biscuits in the YamDaisy Cafe should not be displayed. It can be like a mum's kitchen where they are kept in a tin and brought out when needed.

What do you think?

(Wondering what these YamDaisy Cafes are all about? Here is the website!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Simone's YamDaisy Menu Part 2

The first part of Simone's wonderful menu is here

Simone's YamDaisy Menu
SOUP: Thai Pumpkin Soup with white Sourdough bread
MAIN 1:Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
MAIN 2: Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
FRUIT BASED DESSERT: Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt

Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
I talked a little in the last post about coaxing this menu out of Simone when she was in the middle of moving house. Well, as I begin talking about her second main, you will see how this has come back and bitten me. She said roast vegetables, and was thinking about what to have with them... by then my conscience was pricking me and since I had just roasted a couple of chicken legs I jumped in and suggested roast chicken. "Fine" said Simone.

It was a little bit after this that she told me that she was a vegetarian, and so she would never have chosen a chicken to go along with her roast. Sorry again Simone!

And it was when I started thinking about this post I realised that I keep popping chicken in these menus because I want to cater for meat eaters and, being a vegetarian myself for so long, I am really ignorant about meat ~ except I am cooking chicken sometimes and learning about it. However, after my experiment cooking chicken legs I have to admit I have no idea how I would serve bits of them with the roast veggies.

I thought to myself that since Simone didn't choose the chicken, maybe I could change it for some other meat, and just grabbed braised belly of pork out of the ether! When I went searching for what it is actually is ~ it sounded a bit more complicated than I expected, and I realised I was just getting deeper and deeper into things I am totally ignorant about! O dear!

I had to have a conversation with my friend Lin about whether it was something that could be considered for a YamDaisy menu, and really, how big a bit would end up on the plate?
Lin calmed me down and I can picture now a plate with a lovely bright array of veggies and a succulent square of pork, and maybe a nice smear of apple sauce. Yummy?

I just love to make roast veggies, crispy with caramelised edges and all their colours were bright and glistening. I love making a big tray of these because they make such wonderful left overs! It is easy to be creative with the mix, but this is how I did this lot:

Put the oven to high heat.
Pop in a baking tray that will fit your veggies in one layer, or as close to that as possible.
In a big bowl, peel and chop your veggies. I used potato, parsnip, carrot and pumpkin. I made them only a few centimetres square (not that anything was that regular) so that they had lots of surface area and so they would cook quickly
Then I added some thinly sliced onion and chopped red pepper to add extra flavour.
On top of these I drizzled some olive oil, soy sauce, a bit of golden syrup, and lots of dried oregano.
I mixed this all up so that every piece of vegetable was just coated with the oily mix.
Next get the very hot pan out of the oven and tip the bowl full of vegetables in it. It makes a great hiss and crackle!
Shake or push the veggies a little so that they cover the pan evenly, and pop it back in the oven.
After almost half an hour I gave the veggies a mix, turning them over as much as possible, and after another 10 minutes they were ready.

And are you surprised to find I didn't actually cook the braised pork belly myself? But I looked very carefully for a recipe that looked delicious and possible for the YamDaisy menu. Here is what I found: Braised Pork Belly

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt
The YamDaisy Cafe philosophy is all about 'Made from Scratch!' For anyone who takes the shortcut of using tinned pie apples for their apple crumble, the difference in a YamDaisy version will be a revelation! Apples are in season at the moment, and the bright, sweet, flavour of fresh stewed apples makes it most understandable that this is such a popular dessert. Adding rhubarb adds another level of flavour and colour!

Simone's topping for apple crumble has the butter rubbed into flour, and then the additions of allspice, almond meal, and oats, with the sugar. Drained Greek yoghurt makes a thick creamy counterpoint.

It is really cold and grey and wet in Melbourne at the moment. Winter has set in. How wonderful to have a menu so full of warmth and colour! I think everyone walking past the Cafe would have to come in and eat! This is a menu that will nourish body and soul!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Simone's YamDaisy Menu Part 1

Note to Self: When a neighbour who is moving house comes over because the Estate Agent has accidentally locked her out of her own home, and you get her a cup of tea while she is waiting for the Estate Agent to return, it is not polite to press her for a YamDaisy Menu.

But it worked! Simone has given me a really interesting menu. Here it is:

Simone's YamDaisy Menu
SOUP: Thai Pumpkin Soup with white Sourdough bread
MAIN 1:Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
MAIN 2: Roasted Vegetables and Braised Pork Belly
FRUIT BASED DESSERT: Apple Crumble and Creamy Yoghurt

The YamDaisy menu is for my idea of little local cafe's that provide delicious, everyday, affordable meals. There are only a few choices each day, made from local, seasonal ingredients. Read more about the YamDaisy Menu here.

Simone's menu is really interesting to me. Her choices really highlight the popularity (around here at least!) of a number of dishes. The very last menu I posted also had a pumpkin soup and an apple crumble dessert also! Is this a Melbourne thing?

It has really made me think how each YamDaisy Cafe could make similar menus their own! Imagine the annual YamDaisy Cook Off Awards. This year we could have a prize for the Best Pumpkin Soup. Would Rose's Cafe, with its glorious sunset coloured pumpkin soup, rich with red capsicum and lentils win? Or would the judges prefer Simone's contribution, with coconut cream and Thai curry paste? I had better not be a judge! I would score them both 10 out of 10!

Thai Pumpkin Soup with White Sourdough Bread
This is a lovely pumpkin soup. I based my recipe on this one from the 4 Ingedients book but I made my own curry paste (thanks Charmaine Solomon) and I fried the paste in the thick cream from the coconut milk until fragrant. I was also lucky to have pumpkin from my sisters farm. This was SUCH a delicious soup!
Not having sourdough starter, I made a light white bread to go with it: Hokkaido Bread and what delicious toast it made! I don't know that the YamDaisy chefs will make their own bread, but hopefully they will have wonderful baker suppliers!

Chickpea Stew with Jasmine Rice and Coriander
This stew is made by frying onions, chillies, garlic and chopped tomatoes, adding potato and frying for about 5 minutes, and then adding other vegetables, including kumara, as well as the (cooked) chickpeas and seasoning, and letting it stew gently to mix and meld flavours. Credit goes to Simone's mum for this wonderful winter Chickpea stew.

I will finish Simone's Menu next post!
Jump to it here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Flat Talk for the YamDaisy Cafe

I thank you SO much for your comments on my last post. I love the kind support, but even more I love the comments and criticism that help me see clearly the place of my project in the real world.

Sometimes I don't respond to comments, but I  keep them in my head, or written in my notebook. I have some lovely little lists that will turn into posts soon.

My YamDaisy Project is an unusual one because my health is so bad. I have trouble even managing to post a blog more than once a week! (Ofcourse, if I managed to win $90 million in Tattslotto I could have paid people to do all the work. I could set up a few cafes then! I am sure I could  manage that very well. But sigh, I didn't win it.).
So my strategy, until the next $90 million Tattslotto Draw comes around, is to develop my idea, and find out how to communicate it SO well that it will be self evident that it has to go ahead!

So, back to the flats.
Retrofitting IS possible, but I am very, very glad not to be chasing planning permits myself!
Ofcourse, Councils will come to see that it is in their interests to have YamDaisy Cafes in areas of need, and before you know it they will be bending over backwards to help get them going!

When Jutta talked about not wishing to have one in any block of flats she was living in, I did understand. In our flats there is someone who works night shifts, and I think they would hate extra noise and bustle around here. We have also had tenants with new babies here, and I remember that feeling of being ready to KILL someone who made such a noise my 'I've just got her to sleep' baby might wake up. I am also thinking of people with chronic pain, migraines, anxiety disorders, or simply a strong need for solitude.

However I do think there are places where the current residents in a block of flats may be very glad to let a YamDaisy Cafe in. The issue should be with just the block that has the cafe put in. All the ones nearby get the convenience without the irritation (hopefully). If the block had mostly people who would get home from work just in time to buy something delicious for dinner before the cafe shut up for the evening and peace and quiet reigned, it might be very welcome!

And during the day, people from all around (with the emphasis on walking distance) could visit and, if the flats are like the ones around here, it would be a very quiet, easy atmosphere.

The YamDaisy Cafes need to have a 'mum's kitchen' feel. Welcoming, full of deliciousness, conversation and company. But no mucking around!

A YamDaisy Cafe must have the invitation of all the residents, and owners, before setting up in a building. Once it is there, at least new tenants will know what they are letting themselves in for!

I have been talking about the places with a high number of flats and apartment buildings that are two or three stories high, and mostly fit on an old house block. That is what it is like where I live. But there are the big apartment buildings too, 8, 10 and more stories high. Just like a hotel has a shop and a restaurant in the lobby, it makes sense that these could too.

In most places I imagine a YamDaisy Cafe fitting in to places like an old corner shop, or some such building: nicely among the houses, and absolutely suitable for a food business. In some places it might be best placed in a small shopping strip easily accessed by the community. I have talked with a church minister who was excited about refurbishing an old church hall as a YamDaisy Cafe.

Wherever there is a need for one of these cafes, the trick would be to look around and see where it might work best. The wishes of nearby people and disability access are right up there in importance with food safety and kitchen size!

A YamDaisy Cafe needs to come to each area on the groundswell of demand from the local people. And once it is there, the onus is on the cafe to make sure it continues to be a welcome part of the community!