I received a comment and a request on my Swedish blog, to write about my cooking now, in lockdown. Something I of course have addressed on my instagram accounts, which are more ‘in the moment’ than the blog.
I completely understand it might not be of interest for you readers to read my reviews of restaurants from before lockdown, that are now shut. But the reason I have carried on ‘as normal’ (or as normally as I can right now) is because I think those good restaurants that I didn’t have time to write about before lockdown need to be mentioned. My blogs don’t have a huge following, but they are read by a few of you and if I could have some influence on where you spend your money when all this is over of course I want to contribute to that. To cast a limelight on restaurants I really like, large or small. Regardless of what kind of backing some restaurants had before lockdown, I think all business owners are now in the same boat; worrying if they can bounce back. If they can afford to take this hit or if it’s better to throw in the towel.
But I hear you; that’s the past, and the present is strange and can be tricky to navigate, especially when you’re forced (more or less, depending on where you live), to cook more at home, to come up with new dishes, while maybe not having access to all the food items you’re used to.
I feel quite equipped for this, strangely. Maybe because I taught myself how to cook when I lived away from home for the first time (with a patient mamma at the end of the phone guiding me when I got stuck), or because I made sure I would enjoy cooking for one after a breakup when I was around thirty, or because I loathe throwing food away and get immense satisfaction out of using up every single little morsel leftover; be it a quarter of an onion, a small piece of chicken or a little hunk of cheese. I use them all up and have come up with some interesting lunches over the years. And maybe also, because I love to cook for other people.
You see, the first three weeks of lockdown I utilised all my cooking for one tips, as I was alone in London making sure I didn’t develop the virus. At this point it was hard for people to get food in general so I relied on my freezer stash, my ability of using up food and coming up with good substitutions and to buy food where the regular person wouldn’t shop. I felt this was a small thing for me to do, but could mean that somebody else (maybe a whole family) could access that delivery slot or those groceries, because frankly they needed it more than I did. I waited for Natoora, one of my favourite vegetable and delicatessen shops, to open up their restaurant slots to the general public and bought lovely things like British asparagus, burrata and dolce latte. This might seem extravagant in a crisis, but my thinking was that I get more satisfaction out of these more luxury food items than the average person, I can afford it, and I don’t eat very much and can therefore stretch the produce quite far if I need to. And I wanted to support a wonderful business that with restaurants closing had a huge excess of food they needed to sell. Which I, of course, was oh so happy to take off their hands.
So I ate very well those three weeks. But I didn’t eat much meat, because they don’t sell it (other than in delicatessen products), and I made sure to buy some flour (any flour!) so that if I couldn’t get a delivery slot at least I could make bread, pasta or pizza. I wanted to avoid shops as at this point they were still crowded which scared me!
Then after those three weeks, feeling safe enough I didn’t carry any nasties with me, I went out to the countryside to join my boyfriend and his mother, who were in the midst of moving house. So I put on my apron and started cooking for them. Which was very different than cooking for just myself. But very helpful to both them and me. I have invented new dishes (so satisfying), come up with different ways to cook something because of a lack of ingredients (also very satisfying) and although the food look (and taste) great it’s not as glamorous as instagram suggests of course (check out my stories to see failed experiments, substitutions and lots of leftovers). Yes, all the leftovers get eaten!! Sometimes reimagined as something else and sometimes just reheated as they are.
So in the coming weeks I will try to share some helpful recipes where I’ve had to think differently, using what I’ve had to hand. Being in the countryside has proved a lot easier when it comes to food though. Two small local shops carry necessities like eggs, milk and bread. And one of them is a greengrocer too! The village farm sells eggs like they always do, and we have managed to get slots to pick up food from supermarkets (some far away, but we could get slots) and since Ocado opened up more slots a couple of weeks ago I have used them too. So I realise we’re very lucky. But I hope most of you are too. That if you can’t go out somebody can deliver to you or a neighbour could do the shopping for you.
PS. Moving house in lockdown was really hard work, so I haven’t been able to post very much, but I hope I will have more time in the coming weeks.