It has been three weeks since my last blog, in a way it feels much longer than that. In fact, it feels much longer than five weeks that we’ve been in lockdown. Time is strange at the moment. It feels like months since I was last sat in the office, enjoying a meal out, having an after-work drink, or caching up with friends and family. I have no doubt that some of you feel similar.
For me, it’s certainly been a time for reflection. What’s important, and what’s not. What you miss, and what you don’t miss. April was always going to be a reflective month for us, as it would have been the due date for our first child around about now (I sadly had a miscarriage last year). It’s strange thinking that in the midst of this pandemic I would have also be approaching the end of my pregnancy. Despite the times we are in we are carrying on trying for a baby, it’s one thing that the virus cannot control!
Another thing I have noticed considerably is how much the pace of life has slowed down. There’s no rushing around whether commuting to work, running errands or having to be places at a certain time. Everyone’s situation is of course different, those parents who are working and home-schooling, or who have younger children, have added pressures of juggling life at home. Hats off to all of you. There’s also of course all of our brave front line staff, managing worries around increased exposure to the virus, as well as everything else as we are.
Here are some of the things that I’ve been up to these past few weeks that have been helping me relax and keeping me entertained, both food and non-food related.
The Gardening Continues:
(Sweetcorn & Spring Onions Seedlings)
(Our garden in full bloom)
The seedlings have certainly grown since my last blog. The Sweetcorn, Spring Onion, Fennel, Cabbage and Beetroot are looking particularly good. I’ve been taking them outside during the day, apparently this helps them to acclimatise to the elements before they are planted out. A colleague sent me some Mint roots in the post as these are also going strong (thanks Siobhan!). I’m hoping to plant the seedlings out in early-mid May, once the last overnight frost has been and gone. Really excited to see how they continue to grow, and hopefully we get something we can eat! The garden itself is blooming signs of early summer everywhere. We are so lucky to have a garden right now, I’m so glad I’m not living in my city centre flat anymore!
Exercise, Music & Colouring:
(Nephew Archie & Niece Elsie)
(East End Park Leeds)
As mentioned I started in my last blog, I’ve been managing to keep all of these three things up.
Since the 1st April I’ve been hitting 10k steps per day, through daily walks around the beautiful park on our doorstep, and exercise routines around the garden. Some days have been tougher than others to reach the 10k target, but I’m staying on track, and definitely feeling better for it.
Mindfulness colouring continues to be a regular activity, some days it may just be a few minutes, other days an hour or so. My nephew Archie (5 year old) and niece Elsie (3 year old) seemed to enjoy their pictures that I sent them last week (See photo above!).
Some of my old CDs have got an ‘airing’ recently. Some which I haven’t listened to for years, and some I’m unable to listen to anymore as they are so scratched from over playing! Artists have included Primal Screen, Nirvana and Oasis. Thomas kindly bought me a replacement CD of the Rolling Stones ‘Forty Licks’ CD after I realised it was beyond repair!
‘Virtual’ Meet Ups & Cook Offs:
(A family video catch up)
Another thing to be fortunate for during lockdown is modern technology. If the pandemic had hit us 20 years ago, we definitely wouldn’t have the means to catch up with loved ones as we do today.
A group of us have been holding a Saturday pub quiz since the weekend before lockdown. We take it in turns to host the quiz and the numbers joining us have continued to grow. The app Kahoot has been used some weeks, whilst other weeks its been a simple pen and paper job.
We have been having bi-weekly Microsoft Team catch ups with the immediate family, adults only on Tuesday night, and everyone on Saturday. I have four nephews and a niece so with us all on together there is 16 of us! I’ve also been using Microsoft Teams and Wats App video to catch up with friends.
This Saturday night a few of us had a Ready Steady Cook style evening. Ingredients were selected in advance and we had to make a three-course meal. We all had our laptops on and again used Microsoft Teams to connect, and it actually felt like the six of us were having a meal together. It was lovely. We chatted away, talked about what we cooked, got a bit tipsy and had fun! I would highly recommend it.
The ingredients we had to play with were Potatoes, Tinned Tomatoes, Boursin Cheese, Sausages, Long Stem Broccoli, Aubergine, Beans, Egg, Cocoa and Sugar. Me and Thomas made for starters Aubergine Fritters with a Smoked Black Bean & Garlic Hummus and Tomato Salsa. For main it was a Potato & Sausage Gratin with Onions & Tarragon, a Boursin & Broccoli Cheese Sauce, and pan-fried Tender Stems Broccoli. Our meal was finished off with Chilli, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Macarons.
(Saturday nights Virtual Cook Off!)
Food, Food, Food and more Food!
I honestly didn’t think that me and Thomas could get anymore obsessed with food, how wrong I was! It continues to make us happy every day and it’s never been more important to us.
On Friday I combined my daily outside exercise with the weekly ‘big’ shop and walked down to Leeds city centre Markets. Although nowhere near it’s usual bustling self, and it was sad to see some of my favourite food places shut, I still enjoyed my trip and felt as though I had some normality back in my life. The traders were as friendly and chatty as always, and managed to get everything we needed food wise.
(Malcolm Michaels Singing Butcher!)
(The Spice Corner)
(The shut down food courts)
A few butchers areopen including Malcolm Michaels where I was entertained by the singing butcher whilst buying my sausages!! Got some nice bread and Hot X Buns from Bluebird Bakery, and popped to The Spice Corner for fresh herbs and spices. There were lots of social distancing and hand sanitiser measures in place.
Thomas has begun making bread, and it’s been bloody delicious. My favourite one so far was one made with Rosemary, Celery Seed, Smoked Salt and Black Pepper. Meanwhile I’ve been making Hummus, which is really easy, just throw into a blender Chickpeas, Garlic, Tahini (Sesame Paste), Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper. Some of the dishes we have enjoyed eating includes; Asian Broth with Dumplings, Smokey Quesadillas (several times!), Plantain Fritters with Rice & Beans and Savoury Oat Cakes. I have a recipe for a delicious Persian Spiced Butternut Squash dish that I will share in a separate post.
For now I will leave you with a few photos of our favourite mentioned dishes.
Keep strong and keep safe everyone.
x The Messy Cook x