We are about to enter our seventh week of lockdown.
I’m getting quite used to our new normality. Of course I miss restaurants, galleries and live music a little, but the truth is that we didn’t used to do these things that often.
I find myself baking and cooking much more than normal with four hungry adults in the house. We’re going to roll out of lockdown, I suspect, based on the trays of brownies, shortbreads and breads that we’ve been eating. Whether it’s comfort eating or what, we’re certainly eating a lot.
Where I’d normally do a supplementary shop each week to top up on bread and fresh vegetables, I can’t do that now, restricted to one delivery slot a week by the online supermarkets and not wanting to send anyone out on an inessential journey.
I have to plan ahead meticulously to ensure I don’t forget anything essential. It’s made me more careful and certainly more creative, substituting ingredients where I don’t have exactly what I need.
I made a malt loaf last week, my first ever, and couldn’t get black treacle for love nor money for some reason. Baking goods such as flour, yeast, eggs and sugar have all been really tough to get. So I substituted a few tablespoons of pomegranate molasses instead and it tasted delicious. The smugness at my own ingenuity was not pretty to see.
Bread baking skills have been essential, so I’ve been baking rolls, baguettes and loaves, finding some brilliant basic recipes. The offspring aren’t fans of sourdough so there’s been less of that.
In the first few weeks of lockdown I couldn’t get a supermarket shop at all, and resorted to midnight trawling of websites to see who would deliver what. As a consequence we’ve found the worlds best sausages from a farm shop in Lincolnshire (seriously good), and a South East London butcher whose beef is to die for. Small producers, both, with care for their animals at the heart of their production.
The experience has been so good that from now on that’s where my pork, beef and sausages will come from. I think that anything that we can do to help support small farms or producers at this time is a good thing. Once up in Skye we’ll source local equivalents and eat them less often to make it affordable.
It’s heartbreaking to think of how many small makers and companies will go to the wall in these tough times.
Stay safe, and I hope that you are all managing to survive this new reality, however temporary it may be.