A pie’s not just for Christmas



I try and have the days off between Christmas and New Year, it gives me a chance to play and try some new things. For sometime now I have wanted to try making my own sausages and for Christmas I was given a sausage stuffer, several recipe books, and you can guess the rest. Pork was duly minced, allergy friendly seasoning mixed, and amidst much hilarity the Norfolk sausage was born. If that’s the first attempt I cant wait until we have it sorted because it was tremendous.

imageHowever we did have a qty of minced, seasoned pork left over which gave me the opportunity to try something else I wanted to do for some time, make pork pies. Luckily in one of my new books there was a recipe for Water Crust pastry, vital for Pork Pies, and something else I have never tried, but as I always say “if I have a book it can be done” which is why the family are careful about the books they buy me.

It would appear unlike conventional pastry water crust pastry, a mixture of lard melted in boiling water combined with flour has to be worked hot, which makes it interesting. the end result as can be seen worked out well and the final result exceeded my expectation’s. I feel a whole new raft of Old Blokes Kitchen videos coming up, imagine a pork pie cooked in the wood fired oven. I’m salivating at the thought of it.

After 30+ years of marriage my dearly beloved continues to surprise me, todays revelation was that she had never eaten a Pork Pie, I suppose I shouldn’t been surprised as its a well known fact in our house held to be a universal truth that 90% of all pork pies are purchased and eaten by middle aged men. It so happens that I fall into that demographic and she doesn’t, which is why I like them, and she, until now didn’t have a view.The problem is now how do I tell my dearly beloved that no all Pork Pies are created equal, think of the disappointment when she discovers that mass produced shop pies don’t taste like these, and are in fact bland & soggy, depending upon the seasoning for any taste at all, which when you put it like that, makes me think the pleasure of a pork pie has just been taken away from me, unless of course its one of mine

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Getta Head, Getta Hat

Many years ago there was an advertising slogan in the UK, Getta ahead, Getta Hat, undoubtedly put about by those who sell hats. Recently I have been making some Steam Punk lanterns several of which are now installed in a very trendy bar in East London.image

In the course of my research I found myself looking at a number of Steam Punk websites and it seems in each image there are several people with Leather Top Hats with flying goggles. Now I don’t pretend to get it, but then I don’t understand people who dress up to refight battles either, and I have made enough bits for battle re-enactment customers over the years so why not steam punk, its just another version. A customer is a customer after all, they all seem to be having fun, and nothing dubious seems to be going on, and so my latest project was born. A Moulded Leather Bowler Hat, ideal for Steam Punks.

The first problem is I need a mould or former over which I can mould my leather. I have reasoned that a bowler needs to be a domed oval, so we need measurements, requiring the use of another advertising slogan – the appliance of science


The photo reminds me of my Barber George, a lovely chap but not renowned for his sense of humour. Every time he ask me would I like a change and if so which style would I like. With my usual rapier wit, which has got me thrown out of better establishments than his, I reply “A Mohican”. To be honest he plays he part, rolls his eyes, completely ignores me, and the bald patch staring up at him, and nothing more is said. Though recently he has started to get his revenge by combing my hair to the side, convincing my dearly beloved  I am up to no good, as I come home with a new hair style. But at least now I can show him a Photo of what I would look like with a Mohican.

As usual we digress, back to the bowler. Armed with these measurement’s I set out to make the former. On the lathe I have turned a 17cm wooden dome which I have then cut down the middle, stuck in a 2cm piece of wood and so the 19 x 17cm oval dome Bowler Hat Former was born



Where will it end I hear you cry, to which the answer is, in a few days time with a Moulded Leather Bowler Hat, which I feel sure is going to be this years must have fashion accessory for the stylish man ( or women) about town.

Look out to be amazed, coming to a cat walk near you…..





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The Big Green Ice Cream Machine

At last a project with a snappy title. The first video documenting the creation of my Horse Powered / bloke on a bicycle powered, Ice Cream Machine.

This a project I have been thinking about for a long time, several years in fact, and its seen me through many sleepless nights. The problem then becomes is you concentrate your thoughts on the difficulties, and after a while they then seemingly become overwhelming, and so the project is shelved. The alternative method which I have chosen to adopt in this instance, is you break it down into a series of small achievable projects which then link together at the end, that way the issues seem far more manageable. So starting with what I know the first section is the Ice Bucket which sets the size for the rest of the machine. So in this instance we are aiming for 25 litres of ice cream each time its used.

Now this is never going to be an instant project, it needs to fit in around real work, and I have to earn the money to pay for it. So if your interested I need you to subscribe to my Youtube channel, that way you get to keep up with progress and the advertising buys the wood, whilst we wait for me to be discovered by a TV channel, and then when that happens you have the double benefit of telling your friends how you launched my career.

The next section is the drive mechanism for the stirring paddle, which promises to be more challenging. I need to know how fast I want the paddle to go round, and how fast a horse walks in a circle. Armed with that information I can then calculate the gear ratios, and how to link the horse walking round to the paddle in the bucket. I suppose I might also have to consider one or two Health and Hygiene matters, I don’t think customers will want horse flavoured ice cream.  For an engineer that’s easy but I am a carpenter. A

Wish me luck, and remember to come back and find out how I am doing.

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Too much to chew?


Before I start on a project I spend many a sleepless night ( I am getting old it comes with the territory) thinking it through, working out how it all fits together, what building blocks I need to achieve my goal – I have spent too many years listening to corporate executives trying to impress each other. Most of my projects can be traced back to my core interests and crafts, but today its time for a change.

Now its not unusual for me to make something I have never made before, something I have never seen before, for which I don’t have a set of drawings, and I don’t know anyone who has ever made one I can ask. That’s normal. But normally I am adapting techniques I already understand, with materials I am used too. However today I have thrown that all out as I have set sail on my latest project.

The heart of it is an Ice Cream machine, an industrial size churn of creamy ice cream mixture, frozen in bath of ice and rock salt, with a paddle turned by …….? That is indeed the question. Horsey friend’s of of mine want it powered by a Horse, which I have to say is the favourite, and I can see it being a star attraction at a country fair. A friend who is a  promoter of Cycle events assures it would go down a storm at Cycle events powered by a bicycle. I have also considered a portable windmill, and a human size Hamster wheel. All perfectly possible, and all great fun. There is just one minor fly in the proverbial ointment. I need to build the Ice Cream Machine  first.

So starting with the easy bit today I have built the wooden cask, into which fits a stainless steel container with the ice cream mixture. Over that fits a mechanism , we will gloss over that bit, involving gears and engineering, which turns a paddle which beats the mixture smooth. That’s the first big hurdle. You cant just order one online. In my naivety I believe I can first make it out of wood, then use that to make a green sand casting in aluminium, although I have never done it before and at the moment I don’t have a furnace capable of smelting aluminium. mere details, but I did read a book about it. So to the get to the end of this project I first have to build a foundry. If you say it quickly it cant be difficult.

Now it may be I have bitten off too much, but until I try, we will never know. Its going to take a while so its going to takes some commitment from both of us, me to do it and you to keep up with what in this modern fast changing world is a long term project. But think of the sense of achievement we will both have when you come and taste the end result, natural strawberry Ice Cream, you don’t get a choice of flavour. Think how we will strive together, share our triumphs and our tragedies, and each little baby step gets us closer to our goal. 25 litres of magnificent strawberry Ice Cream on a hot summers day, and a carrot for the horse.

Stay with it your worth it.



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Mirror Mirror on the Wall


As they say in all the best fairy tales. Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all, to which the answer is obvious.

Now I bring this to your attention not because I want you to admire my flowing golden locks but rather this weeks rather strange commission. Now it so happens I have a steady trade in the manufacture of custom illuminated Makeup Mirrors. Most of these go to Theatrical Equipment hire company http://www.trafalgarlighting.co.uk who hire them out to for Adverts  TV shows, films, and fashion shows.

Now their most recent commission is for a Mirror but without the mirror mounted in it. Apparently they get asked by customers “would it be alright if they removed the mirror” to get the camera shot through the frame. To take the mirror out of an existing frame causes all manner of problems, so they have had me make them a “Mirror without a mirror” I suspect I wont be making very many of these, but if anyone else wants one do get in touch.

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Some projects take a little longer

imageAt the start of the summer I decided I wanted to make my own smoked paprika, why doesn’t matter, we will settle for saying “why not”

Research on line pointed to Hungarian peppers as the base material, seeds were obtained, planted, and over the summer they have been cosseted on my workshop window. Eventually peppers appeared initially green which slowly turned into red which I am assured by Google means their ready.

In the intervening period I constructed a combined smoker and dehydrator, and along the way discovered smoked Tomato powder, transforming humble tomatoes into the most concentrated flavoured powder, that’s become a must have ingredient at home. if you want to see that have a look at

However we digress, after approx 5 months the planets coincide, The peppers are ready, I have some free time, we can put of off any longer. It’s time to make paprika.

Now I have to admit I don’t have a lot of experience with peppers. I like paprika but that’s comes via our local supermarket, it’s packed full of flavour but not a lot of heat. So without thinking whilst preparing it for the smoker I cut of a piece to test.

For a few Moments I  lost the power of speech. I know now that peppers are also available with heat, and not just hot but pain. I have watched these idiots on TV news programmes testing red hot chillies but never really thought I would be one, but now I know what it’s like.

Fearless I have continued, smoked the peppers, dried them, and transformed them into powder, and finally we have home made smoked paprika. the problem having lost the power of speech once, what’s going to happen now I have concentrated the flavour.


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How to make a Garden Grill – The Video

In the summer frustrated by once again needing to replace my barbecue, I set out to make one, and if I am going to make one lets see if I can improve on the design and efficiency.

Inspired by an academic article I had read about the differences between aluminium and cast iron cookware, and the different ways they transfer heat. The theory is that aluminium dissipates the heat, where as cast iron creates hot spots in the metal which then radiates the heat upwards. What this means in practical terms when applied to barbecues is that aluminium cooks the outside of a piece of meat whereas cast iron radiates heat into the meat, cooking the inside as well, and the most common complaint with barbecue cooking is the meat is burnt outside and raw in the centre.

So my design uses closely spaced solid steel rods rather than the usual thin widely spaced steel which your sausages fall between. Having tried this for a summer I can say the theory works, and there is a part 2 video and a book yet to come which turns the garden grill into a Portable Pizza oven so remember to press the subscribe button to keep in touch.

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