Life and Food in Lockdown

It’s been two weeks since my last blog on food stocks and tips during lockdown, and what a surreal time it has been. My daytime job working for the NHS supporting the ‘behind the scenes’ COVID-19 response work has been challenging, but hopefully making a difference. Thought I’d share with you in this blog what I’ve been up to help keep relaxed, motivated and sane in these crazy times (both food and non-food related).

Spring Gardening:

Last year we did lots of work to revamp our garden so this spring, regardless of a world pandemic or not, was always going to be the time to get things growing! I sowed a few seeds inside two weeks ago that are almost ready for planting outside. These now seedlings are Beetroot, Cabbage, Sweetcorn and Spring Onion. Yesterday I prepped the wooden planters so they are ready to take the seedlings in hopefully a week or so.

Exercise, Music & Colouring:

My fit bit is back firmly attached to my left wrist and I’m determined to keep hitting the daily 10k step target. It’s going to be just as important for my mental health as physical health during lockdown. Although only a small garden, we have a garden, and I’m so grateful for that. We also have a large park on our doorstep in East Leeds, which we make the most of during our daily exercise trip out.

A few weeks ago I bought a ball which forms the basis of my garden fitness routine, mainly throwing and catching against the walls, whilst doing circuits of the garden. I’ve always been sporty and love any kind of ball sport, it’s fun so exercise feels less like a chore.

Mindfulness colouring has become really popular recently, I do enjoy colouring so I ordered a mindfulness colouring book. It really has been helping me relax after a busy day at work. Once I’ve finished the colourings I’m posting them out to my family and friends with a ‘keep strong and well’ message.

Thomas has spent some time sorting out his vinyl putting them into alphabetical order. He has a few hundred, compared to my measly 20 or so, in my defence though I did only start my vinyl collection last year. Music does something to lift your spirits and/or relax you, depending on what you need at the time. My favourites artists I’ve been listening to a lot over the past few weeks have been Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Nick Cave, English folk band Skinny Lister and some gospel/blues music by The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Food Is Keeping Us Going:

(Smokey Chipotle & Peppers Quesadillas with a Mango & Tomato Chutney)

(Banana Fritters with Cinnamon & Chilli served with Honey)

(Aubergine Fritters)

You may have realised by now that I get a little bit excited by food, during lockdown it’s one of the things that still keeps me and Thomas smiling. Whether it’s a discussion on what to eat, or our reactions to tasting delicious food.

As regular food reviewers in Leeds we are really concerned for our favourite local independent businesses during this time. We’ve tried to keep supporting them as much as we can. Thomas on his weekly blood test visits to the hospital, has been popping into Leeds Kirkgate Markets where some of the fruit, veg, meat, fish and other food stalls are still open. It’s much quieter then usual and people are observing social distancing. We’ve also been ordering deliveries from local businesses such as Latitude Wines, George & Joseph Cheese, having takeaways from Zaap Thai, and bread pickups from Bluebird Bakery.

As mentioned in my last blog, our pantry is always well stocked, so we’ve just been topping up on fresh food from the markets, and the occasional visit to our local shop. It sounds as though supermarkets are much better recently, however we will be avoiding them unless absolutely necessary. Can you believe that we’ve been buying Sprouts for the past few weeks? It’s April and you can still get Sprouts! (Sprouts are not just for Christmas!). Do you know how well pan-fried Sprouts go with Gnocchi and Pesto! 😋

I will leave you with a tasty new recipe that we’ve been enjoying recently, these fritters are so bloody good and really easy to make. Drop me a message if you want any recipe inspiration from the ingredients you have in stock.

Keep strong and stay well.

x The Messy Cook x

Aubergine Fritters Recipe<

-1 Aubergine (sliced approx 1cm)

For the marinade

-1 tbsp Soy Sauce

-3 tbsp Chilli Sauce (such as Sriracha)

-1 tsp Sugar

-1 tsp ground Cumin

For the batter

-1tbsp Plain Flour

-1 tbsp Rice Flour (or another tbsp of Plain Flour would do)

-Good pinch of Salt and Chilli Powder

-Enough water to make a thick batter

For the Dipping Sauce

-5 tbsp Tamarind Sauce (if you have it in), otherwise 2 tbsp Soy Sauce, 3 tbsp Brown Sauce

-Pinch of Sugar

-1 tbsp of Chilli Sauce (or less if you want it milder)

Method<<

Place the Aubergine slices into a bowl of salted water (this helps to reduce the bitterness).

Mix together the marinade ingredients into a bowl.

Places the rinsed Aubergine slices into the marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Mix together the dipping sauce ingredients and the coating ingredients into bowls.

Add the marinaded Aubergine slices into the batter, coat evenly on both sides. Cook in a deep fat fryer, or a frying pan with enough Vegetable Oil to cover the spices, for a few minutes until golden brown. Best served warm with the dipping sauce.

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