40 days and counting.

Forty days without the distraction of a grocery delivery or shopping trip. Even though I know we are more than capable of going for much, much longer on this journey, I would welcome the joy of gazing and smelling of fresh fruits and vegetables that are so abundant in our grocery shops and supermarkets. But more than that I would not welcome Covid, so we remain strong, if not a little taunted by the idea.

The last post I wrote about the AstraZeneca vaccine only being 8% effective in the older generation proved not to be correct, such is the speed that false news can travel in this day and age. All is well where efficacy in the older generation is concerned. We have however passed 100,000 deaths. This leaves all of us very sad indeed.

In good news for our little family, Dad and hubby have both had their first jabs and in both cases next day complained about pain in their vaccination site, I am taking this as a good sign that the vaccine is doing its job.

Our fridge continues to do a fantastic job, but we really are at the end of fresh tomatoes, we have a few carrots left, lots of onions, sack of potatoes and the allotment. We also have a good selection of meat and vegetables in tins and the freezer from my Brexit stash, so all is not lost. So to cheer us up we rescued the smoked salmon out of the freezer to make us a cheering lunch with home made coleslaw from our own cabbage and a little beetroot which we ate with a slice of homemade bread.

We try to eat fresh vegetables in some way or another every day, I think this is so important, but along with that we are taking our multi vitamins, vitamin D and fish oils supplements to try and keep us in fine fettle.

I decided to have a look through my cookery bookcase and found these two beauties. Are we not fortunate to live in a country that the potato is a staple of our diet. There is just so much one can do with it and I feel it is so much more nutritious than wheat or rice and I think far tastier. These two books have given me fresh inspiration for our suppers, but it is the humour of Potato Pete and other little ditties that have given me the most pleasure. I shall share some with you. Until the next time, stay safe.

36 days without shopping.

So the pandemic continues, earlier today the signs were encouraging, since then there maybe a problem in the over 65’s with the AstraZeneca vaccine with only an 8 percent effective rate and Boris is implementing strict new border controls. Read into this what you will, but it looks like its not going as well as we had hoped.

Our food stores are going well, I’m starting to miss things like lettuce and cucumber but we still have a small amount of fresh fruit, tomatoes and lots of onions, along with a sacks of potatoes and the milkman delivers. One of the items I have been very grateful for was when we got back from London, we replaced the fridge and freezer with two high end fridge/freezers from John Lewis. Put together they look very much like a large American freezer, although they don’t have the ice making capabilities, but we bought an ice machine at the start of the first lockdown to combat that particular problem. I’d become tired of my large larder fridge which was on its last legs anyway. Getting down to it at the bottom and the back resulted in groans because of stiff backs and knees, and this is wonderful with the top half being the fridge comprising of two very efficient salad drawers, (so I have four altogether!) and various other compartments and the freezer in the lower half. It is so easy to see everything.

The electronic temperature controllers are superb, it has literally extended the life of salads, tomatoes etc by weeks. I’ve reduced the temperature in the fridge to 2c after reading that every degree lowered in a fridge can extend the life of vegetables and fruits by one week, and there is never any freezer burn and tomatoes, peppers, lettuce etc remain stable and in good condition. It’s been an absolute god send.

Of course we do have the plot.

And we are able to shop that as regularly as weather or inclination allows. The roots are a little small, but still very tasty, the carrots will need to be lifted soon as the carrot fly larvae seems to be enjoying them and I’ll need to prep them and freeze them, but the beets and parsnips are standing well. The leeks look better for a bit of cold weather as do the brussels. The kale is doing well, but then it always does and we have taken to having green smoothies nearly every day to give us a vitamin burst of fresh vegetables.

We quite like kale, carrot, tomato, orange juice and chestnuts from Crackly Woods all whizzed together with a big dollop of local honey. It goes down well as a second breakfast! We have nearly finished the rainbow chard, so I will have to let that recover, but it has been splendid in stir fries as has the kale and we are waiting for a second flush of purple sprouting. We have about five small cabbages left, which is good as it is one of Dad’s favourites and 3 large pumpkins left in store.

Dad has been enjoying my home cooking and has eaten everything I have presented which has included many different pies, cottage pies, stew and dumplings, lamb hot pot, meat free roast dinners, various other roasts and most recently lasagne. Lasagne! I hear you cry. Yes, I know. He enjoyed it very much I believe, but has asked if he can have a serving of cabbage with it next time. That did make me giggle, ‘of course Dad, whatever you want’. He has particularly enjoyed the chicken and turkey pies with leeks, having never really eaten leeks before and has adored with a capital A our roast pumpkins… I don’t think he has ever had them. So I make sure his meat free roast dinners are plentifully supplied with roast pumpkins, roast potatoes, mashed potato, carrot and swede crush and both brussel sprouts and cabbage along with a home made yorkshire pudding and lots of good gravy. I think they are his favourite meal. I think he is quite shocked that he enjoys with such gusto a meat free meal. Which has made life simpler in providing him meals that suit his doctors dietary advice. Hubby and I spent the afternoon yesterday batch cooking for him and made another 17 meals, so he has 37 meals ready in our freezer. I like to keep ahead of the game, especially as my stores will get lower and we are trying to go as long as possible without contact with anyone.

My walk from Lands End to John O’Groats from The Conqueror website is going much slower than I had imagined. Mainly because the world and his wife walk down my lane, so I have taken to walking at night, which has been quite nice, but the rain and the snow put me off. It’s no worry, I’ve given myself 18 months to complete, so I’m sure I can catch up, when the infection rates drop.

And lastly we bake treats. The last of the desiccated coconut and ground almonds made these delicious little macaroons. Most of them are in the freezer to be dished out very occasionally. They were a good way of using up some egg whites that I had left over from making a custard to make a vanilla and blackcurrant ripple ice cream, which was really very good and worthy of our home grown blackcurrants.

They were made in a baking pan for tiny treats that Noelle had suggested from Lakeland, I’m so pleased I bought this lovely tray, I am sure it is going to come in very useful.

Tomorrow I must revive my sourdough, as I’m just about to run out of bread.

I hope everyone remains safe and well, until next time.

January 2021

Well that was an interesting December, Christmas, New Year. I think I hit the most massive slump which I am still in. But fingers crossed it all comes good in the end.

I prepared vegetables from the plot, made my Dad a full Christmas meal for him and my eldest brother, which seemed to go down well, made Christmas cakes, christmas pudding and mince pies. I think these activities kept me sane and I just wish there could have been more of them and we could have had the family Christmas we had planned and promised my Dad. But like so many of us we just had to do the best we could.

Now, as the virus cases continue to rise, I think we will be heading for even stricter measures. It’s no wonder really, even in my small home town people think that it is perfectly acceptable to queue up for coffee as though it were a vital food source that will indeed keep them alive. The queues get longer and tighter and with this new highly infectious variant, how can they be sure that they are doing enough to stay safe. Well you can’t as the increased number of cases testifies.

The last time I had contact with a supermarket, was when Dad bought me a salmon to fillet to make Gravlax for Christmas on the 19th and then I did a quick top up shop at the greengrocers on the 21st, the Monday before Christmas.

Not too shabby considering I only fillet a salmon about twice a year!

Here’s a quick tip, save the bones and head and poach in the oven in water for 10 minutes and then pick it over, it is surprising how much fish you can find, easily enough for two very decadent poached salmon sandwiches for a very fine lunch or the doings for some very grand fish cakes. Waste not, want not, as my grandmother would say.

So it is 21 days since I last went to the shops. Fortunately I have a milkman and hubby washes the bottles with soapy water as they come into the house and decants the eggs into our pottery chicken. We also buy sacks of potatoes from him, we can leave them for a few days after bringing them in, so they are hopefully covid free.

We are not doing so bad, we are at the last of the lettuce and tomatoes, the bananas have been eaten, we have a few apples, oranges and lemons left. Loads of tomatoes and vegetables in the freezer along with meat and fish, a draw full of onions in the fridge and enough flour to last a couple of months at least. Today I made a large lasagne from a ragu I had made a couple of months before and then I made a beautiful blackcurrant ice cream from our home grown black currants picked in the summer and a fresh custard I had made this afternoon, we are not doing so bad. The egg whites shall be made into macaroons as I have found some desiccated coconut and I’ll even be able to decorate them with some chocolate that hubby remembered we had. And if all else fails there is the tinned fruit I stashed for Brexit. Fortunately the pandemic came at the same time that there was so much nervousness about Brexit and I’d made sure our store cupboards were well stocked.

We seem to have had some difficulty with our seed delivery for the allotment this year. I’d wanted to start my leeks off, but unfortunately that is not to be. I hope they arrive in the next couple of weeks.

The allotment is giving us brussel sprouts, parsnips, purple sprouting, kale and rainbow chard along with the odd cabbage. At least we are getting all of our vitamins.

I might even break out a war time recipe book, to see what hidden gems I am able to unearth.

Until next time, stay safe.