They say that time flies when you are having fun, so I must have been having fun as it is a long time since I last wrote and I didn’t realise how long it had been until I checked.
To be honest, having fun is not exactly the truth, as I have had a few challenges over the last few months since I last wrote. My main challenge has been my health. The last few months have seen me have visits to a consultant on a number of occasions, a CTI, a MRI and the threat of another operation, which was averted at the 11th hour as the blockage in my colon sorted itself out prior to the need for further surgery. On the back of the threat of further surgery, I had to cancel the event baking that I had planned for December. Cancelling catering for the events was the last thing that I wanted to do, but I had to change my priorities given the threat of surgery. Despite being given the all clear by the consultant on the surgery front, the 2nd week in December saw my stomach take a turn for the worse again, so much so that I managed all but two hours at our Christmas party at the Swan in Bibury on 13 December. I managed to go into work for the last week before the Christmas break, but I was very glad when the Christmas break finally came.
My well-being improved over the Christmas break. Having our youngest son home and preparing for the family Christmas meal at home focused my mind on other things. The Christmas meal was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed making the starters and desserts. The starter was Mary Berry’s blue cheese and fig, filo tarts and cranberry sauce and goat’s cheese, filo tarts with fresh thyme. The desserts were mixed berry pavlova, Christmas brownies and spiced orange tart.
The time since Christmas has been a whirlwind. I was just about to start the event catering season, when Covid-19 stuck and all events I was going to cater for have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. As the Company I work for is an event business, our annual event has been cancelled and the majority of staff have been furloughed. After a period of time working from home, I was furloughed as of yesterday. While this gives me time to do other things, I do miss having structure to my day and interacting with other people.
That being said, my period of home working and social distancing has certainly been getting my creative juices going again. Being told to stay at home, except to go out for essentials, has meant that we are being much more cautious with what we are buying and we are using everything up that we have in our fridge and cupboards. There is far less waste and far more tasty meals in our house at the moment. Although I was fortunate to sign up to Ocado for home delivery, before you could no longer become a customer, we only had two deliveries before we were no longer able to secure home deliveries as they are now prioritising the most vulnerable people (and quite rightfully so). I am just so grateful for Lynwood & Co, a local cafe (the cafe I used to work for) who are now doing home deliveries of vegetable and fruit boxes and other goodies i.e. bread, milk, eggs, coffee, muesli, butter etc. The eggs, butter, milk etc. are from other local producers so we are very happy to be supporting our local cafe and other local producers during this time. Not only are we being provided with great produce, which means our trips to the supermarket are being reduced, but I am being kept on my toes when it comes to menu planning and meals. Google and my cookbooks haven’t been as busy as they have in the last few weeks as I have been scouring them for new and exciting recipes to use up my array of fresh fruit and vegetables.
This flurry of activity in my kitchen made me think about my blog, my rather neglected blog, and I have decided to write a blog within a blog. The title of the blog going forward, well as long as we are told to stay at home and are under lock down, will be called the Lockdown Larder. I will share with you the recipes of what I have cooked to date, as well as the recipes for the meals I cook going forward. I will give you some ideas about essential equipment and ingredients which are helpful to have when you can’t replenish your fridge or freezer on a regular basis. I will also talk about some of the substitutes that I have used, which I have found useful along the way, when I haven’t had the ingredients I needed.
Before I start posting pictures of food, I wanted to share a picture of Izzy, who is now 10 months old. As both before and during the Covid-19 outbreak, she has been my constant companion. She is very different to Montague, but has become a wonderful new addition to the the family.