The insomnia is in full flow tonight, it is 5.15 a.m. and I’ve not had a blink of sleep, the trouble then is I just have to have a nap in the afternoon otherwise I will keel over and so it all begins again. Covid eh!
There is good news for me at least, because I am an unpaid carer to Dad, or maybe its because I have quite a few health problems of my own, whose to know they don’t tell you why, I’ve been bumped up the list and was vaccinated yesterday. It is a big relief to get a vaccine, bearing in mind I have been self isolating for over a year now because of hubby with only a brief respite to look after Mum before she died and to console Dad as best I could before we went back into lockdown at the start of January and then the winter blues on top of all that. It’s not been a good year. I feel all creativity has died in me, which is terrible really, but I just feel absolutely worn out, which is I suspect a type of depression and I’ll be very glad in three weeks time when I can walk around without so much anxiety when someone passes me.
I do have plans to start wandering into various towns and cities nearby on a regular twice weekly basis just as soon as I can and am making a list of coffee shops that I wish to visit as well as other interesting shops or galleries. I think Covid has taught me not to take things for granted and that life is for the living. So gallivant I shall go. Even if its just to go to Coventry Market and pick up some lovely fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a bunch of pinks or daffs that have been stacked high to sell for not much money from the pretty iron and glass circular flower stall.
Then hopefully this depression will lift and my creative spark shall return. I have plans to make another quilt this year, the fabric is sat in my sewing room, I think as the days lighten it might be time to start work on that. You would think that having been locked in we would have sorted out the sewing room, but apparently not. I think we were quite happy in many ways to just stare at the coal fire and try to relax.
I continue to make nice treats for hubby and Dad and last weeks was a lovely cinnamon and apple pie. They are lucky boys!
I treated myself to a three month cookery book subscription from Willoughby book club this Christmas. I’d been hinting for nearly three years that this may be a good Christmas present for me, but no one had taken me up on the idea so in the end I decided life is far too short, especially in the middle of a pandemic, and treated myself to it. The first book that landed through my door was a little meh. So I was a little disappointed after having waited to indulge myself for three years, but the second book was Wow, oh Wow. Although I received the American version which is in Farenheight, so I am not sure what that is all about and the spine was damaged…
The book itself was from a restaurant in London and although I had never been to that particular restaurant the style of food was very familiar to me having nested in London for several years. I adore the use of pistachios and almonds along with scented floral or citrus oils in cakes, to me they add so much more interest than a gooey icing. Along with interesting pastries both sweet and savoury of a middle eastern styled nature and i’m your gal. I remember on one of my very first trips into London many, many years ago to attend a Loop workshop (Loop being a lovely knitting shop in Islington) our mid morning treat was some lovely middle eastern styled cakes filled with pistachios and almonds and they were absolutely heavenly. Coming from the middle of Warwickshire it was not something that I was used to, but having lived in London I became aware of just how popular this style of cooking is and I can completely understand why, it is just so damn tasty.
So that night, I nestled into my bed, reading glasses at hand and started at the beginning of Golden Sweet and Savoury Baked Delights from the Ovens of London’s Honey and Co, which I found out is the American version and the version you’d be looking for is The Baking Book by Honey and Co. The only difference being seems to be the usage of F or C for temperature.
Anyway I settled in and I started at page one and it was a delight. Their back story was lovely and as I read further I could feel myself drifting into the shop to watch the jams being made in the Dead of Night and the chapters that came next were filled with exactly the sort of thing I would want to eat at First Light whilst rushing off to work or for Mid Morning Elevensies on my day off, quickly followed by chapters on High Noon Lunch for the hungry office workers and Tea Time for mums and children after school and After Dark just because it was delicious. And mostly I wanted to bake them all, they reminded me of so many places I have visited and eaten at and yet my own repertoire of eastern baking has remained quite small.
But another thing happened at about two in the morning after I’d been reading the book and absorbing their recipes and stories for about two hours, I knew there was one person that would absolutely love this book, it was just so her, from the jam making to the bread baking and use of nuts in her buns and cakes and so I did a little bit of googling and by a process of elimination I assumed she had not bought this book but she had actually been to Honey and Co some years previously. So I bought her a copy! And that one simple act has given me so much pleasure because she did indeed love the book I sent and my instincts were right. I’m sure we will both get many years of laughter from this book as we share our trials and tribulations of trying new recipes.
I love a pistachio cake, I quite like it when it has been dipped in chocolate and then warmed so that the chocolate just warms and one has to eat it with a fork lest one gets messy fingers and the chocolate just glues the lips together in a delicious sounding smack, to be taken with good strong coffee in-between art galleries on a days excursion in London. So when I saw the recipe for Blood oranges and Pistachio cake I knew it was the first one to try for me. Sadly I had no blood oranges, so its not quite as pretty as it could be, but then they are not quite as pretty as they could be for more reasons than that.
It was going well until we realised that the muffin tins would be a bit small and I had to make a quick decision as to what would be okay and I found some cake tins that I don’t think I’d used for many a long year. Hubby and I rescued everything out of the muffin tins and it looked to be going well.
But in our haste to transfer the ingredients we had forgotten to butter the cake tins before putting the mix of sugar and cornflour topped with an orange slice.
So when I went to tip them out, it left every single orange slice stuck to the bottom. I just hope Paul Hollywood isn’t judging these, I would be thrown out of the competition!
But they tasted so good. I will be making these again, and maybe a few without the orange so that I can dip them in chocolate and relive a few old memories.
Yesterday I had a really emotional day, not in a good way. I’m not sleeping, when I do sleep its only for an hour and then accompanied by weird dreams and then I want to sleep during the day. Lockdown has really gotten to me. I also found out that although the area we live in has a relatively low infection rate, the area Son no.1 lives in is sky high and parts of it are now being tested for the South African variant.
I check our local daily rates regularly and I noticed that they have just started a blip upwards, mmm. Not good.
So I ordered a delivery from Tesco with all the wonderful fruits and vegetables that we have been missing.
Then I cancelled it.
Then I had another breakdown.
After my breakdown I watched Coronation Street, I haven’t seen it for 15 – 20 ? years.
It hasn’t changed, i’m thinking some of the actors don’t seem to age as fast as I am.
Then I started to clean the oven.
This never happens…
I go and lay down and think ‘buggar it’ and order a huge selection of fruit and veg from Morrisons via Amazon.
I’m pretty stressed about it.
But it has been fifty days and if we get away with it and we do another fifty days I may be vaccinated by then.
And who knows it may become a new thing for us to go much longer between shopping trips. I am sure sometimes supermarket shopping can be used just as a form of entertainment.
Maybe shopping seven times a year could be a thing. Easily doable with the supplementation from the allotment in the summer.
We shall see.
But tomorrow we shall have a pancake day a week early to use up all the tired looking lemons and limes in the fridge. Hubby is very much looking forward to it.
And in the shopping being delivered tomorrow I have squirrelled away two sirloin steaks, prawns and ice creams.. to have our own little valentine celebration to show the man I love just how sorry I am that he has to put up with me having breakdowns during lockdown.
Having run out of all bread it was time to make a big batch of buns. I’m into buns at the moment or batches, rolls, baps or whatever the slant of your dialect dictates them to be. I like getting just one or two out of the freezer at a time, letting them defrost overnight and then warming them so that they are perfectly fresh.
Today I wanted something tasty, something savoury to cheer up what might be getting quite dreary. Although so far we have managed to keep most meals reasonably cheerful.
But today I wanted Punch.
So I started off a couple of rounded teaspoons of commercial yeast with a little water and a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar, when frothy I added to 1000g of strong Canadian white flour with a hydration of 72% warm water and about 10g salt. Let it whirl on the dough hook of my Kenwood for ten minutes and then let it prove whilst I rummaged in my cupboards.
Where I found a small jar of sun dried tomatoes and in the fridge a small jar of olives that had been started and next I found some freshly picked rosemary from the plot, but not too much. Perfect I thought and gaily chopped everything fine and mixed into the well risen dough for its second prove.
Next I made 18 buns which weighed 4oz exactly, let them rise and then popped them into a very hot oven, turning it down to just under 200c for 25 minutes.
Oh they smelled so good.
The flavours were wonderful, and the hint of rosemary had real longevity, it stayed with you for ages.