Life in lockdown: a food diary – April 2020

When you are someone, like me, who always thinks about food, and you find yourself in a situation where you are in much closer proximity to the fridge than you would normally be on a working day … it’s a challenge to stay out of there. When you are, like me, always thinking about your next meal, and suddenly find yourself in a situation where your next meal is about the only thing you have to look forward to … it can start to become a bit all-consuming.


Food hoarder
When lockdown started, I was already in a very fortunate position to have well-stocked cupboards, fridge and freezer. I always have about 10 different bags of dried pasta in my cupboard. I always have white, brown, basmati, short grain and Jasmine rice in my cupboard, as well as various straight to wok and dried noodles. I have so many tins in my cupboard that they groan with the weight of ancient tins of sardines, baked beans, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and any interesting randomness I have found in foreign supermarkets in the past.

Frozen goodies
My mum had made shepherds pies and chicken and leek pies for me when she went on holiday in February, and I still had a few portions in the freezer, alongside frozen broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and peas. Plus the usual potato waffles, scampi, chicken dippers and fishfingers that go with the territory when you live with a 3.5 year old.

social distancing

A couple of weeks before lockdown had even been imagined, I had completed my usual stock up of various cleaning products, booze, loo roll, laundry detergent, frozen dimsum and long life food at Costco (love that place!); and I had booked my next four Ocado delivery slots with my usual weekly fresh food supplies.

So, come lockdown, I was in the privileged position of having plenty of food in stock, and the prospect of regular food deliveries. Of course some things ran out quickly, and I took to sourcing items locally from various companies who were changing their business structure from wholesale to retail, or supporting local cafes which started online deliveries to try and stay afloat.

Lunch al desko
When I used to work in an office (I was last there 8 weeks ago!), I used to eat my packed lunch ‘al desko’. Due to nursery drop off and pick up constraints, I was strictly at my desk from 9am to 5pm and therefore didn’t waste a minute of that time doing any more than working. Now, my desk moves around the house and garden so that I can have one eye on Ioan and one eye on my laptop.

Working from home

And we all need feeding at lunchtime, and in the evening, and Ioan wants snacks throughout the day. So that’s a lot of meals to think about, and I wanted to share with you some of my favourite brunches, lunches, dinners and treats which we have enjoyed so far – maybe they will give you some ideas for how to brighten up your lockdown through food.

Brunch brunch brunch!
If you live in North London, I highly recommend you check out Hot Milk (Bounds Green) and their brunch at home option. Eggs, bacon, butter, sourdough, coffee, OJ and cinnamon rolls delivered fresh to your door on a Saturday morning, and you can also pay extra to help fund meals for NHS staff, which they are also cooking every day. Here is the before shot:

Hot milk brunch at home

And the after shot:

Cooked hot milk brunch

Right now you don’t want to be wasting food either, so another great brunch I knocked up recently was a way to use up leftover mashed potato. I mixed it with some flour, spring onion and salt, rolled it out and fried it in butter. It was topped it with some warmed shredded ham and a fried egg:

egg on potato cakes

And homemade lockdown loaf bread with salted butter is wonderful at any time of day:

Bread and butter close up

Lunch lunch lunch!
My favourite lunches have included broccoli soup, which is also Ioan’s favourite and is so speedy to make:

Broccoli soup and laptop

One lunchtime I really fancied a Caesar salad, and used some stale sourdough to make croutons, and whipped up a dressing using egg yolk (Ioan had the white scrambled with another whole egg for his lunch), anchovies, garlic, lemon juice from a bottle and oil. I didn’t have gem lettuce, but my salad was still delicious:

Caesar salad

And what’s for dinner?
Thinking about food all the time has sparked my creativity too, and this halloumi and chorizo with lentils is testament to that. And who knew that Ioan would also be such a fan! Recipe coming soon:

Chorizo, halloumi, lentils

Pizza is one of Ioan’s favourites, and I found a ball of homemade pizza dough in the back of my freezer (I honestly couldn’t tell you how long it had been there, but likely more than six months). I defrosted it and hoped for the best … and it made some delicious pizzas for us, topped with passata from the cupboard, cheese, ham and dried herbs. Ours was a whopper:

Homemade pizza on a plate

And Ioan was delighted with his mini one too:

Ioan eating pizza

I heard about a local fishmonger ‘Just Fish‘ who were selling directly to the public following the closure of restaurants, and so ordered some king prawns, sea bass and salmon to fill the freezer. The quality of the fish was brilliant (second round of fish already ordered!), and the prawns were sautéed with garlic and herbs to top my pasta with homemade tomato sauce – they didn’t shrink when cooked, like the ones you buy from the supermarket:

Prawn and pasta

Now this meal looks like it came from a restaurant (even if I do say so myself!), because I cheated. The stir-fried veggies are cooked by me (wok-fried with some soy sauce, mirin, garlic and ginger), and the wonton soup is from Costco – it comes frozen in a bowl, you top it up with water and microwave it, and in six minutes later you have the most delicious prawn wonton soup:

wonton soup and stirfry

And when we didn’t want to eat a full meal in the evening, because frankly sometimes we just wanted a drink (or several) and a snack in front of the telly when Ioan went to sleep: a little plate of cheese, meat and crackers really went down a treat:

The cheese came from Neals Yard Dairy:


And the meat came from Cobble Lane Cured:

Cobble lane cured charcuterie

And the puds
And what about sweet treats? Oh well, you know me too well! Apple tart tatin used up a pack of puff pastry in the freezer, alongside some apples which were on the turn because Ioan decided that week that he only liked pears:

Apple tart tatin

Chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies because the pack of chopped hazelnuts was just about to go out of date:

cookies on a baking tray

Cupcakes because Ioan was desperate to make them, and I always have the ingredients to make cakes:

Cupcake close up

A Mr Whippy tray (topped with chocolate) delivered directly to my front door (thanks to Mr Dilly’s ice cream):

Ioan eating tray of ice cream

And a little tipple to finish everything off, thanks to mum who sent me this lovely and very welcome surprise treat:

Warners gin gift

So there are a few things which have kept me sane over the last eight weeks. Again, I do appreciate that I am in a fortunate position to have a job with an income, a steady supply of food, my own health and that of my family and friends. I hope that this blog post finds you well, both physically and mentally, and that you can appreciate the small joys that you find during this troubled time.

Take care and stay safe.

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