Chicken Noodle Soup is always good for whatever ails you.
I recently learned that the Beaford Archive, in North Devon, is asking for help to document the day-to-day life of people’s experiences during the pandemic. They are looking for photographs which answer the question: “What are you experiencing right now?”
Everyone’s setting will be different. You may be at home with children, or with your parents, or caring for someone. You may be a key worker, or helping the neighbourhood, or working the land. All our lives are changing in ways great and small, and whatever you’re experiencing is worth saving and sharing with future generations.
I’m so pleased that they are doing this. The quotidian life is the one that we rarely see in history, but to me it is what makes history come alive. How people manage their day-to-day existence can be fascinating when you realise just how different it can be from town to town, country to country, century to century. Or in this case, month to month.
In our little corner of South Devon, we are more or less into our fourth week of lockdown (the kids, The Author, and I all started on different days), and we have been able to stay isolated and safe very easily. We are very lucky to be living in this beautiful, rural area, but the enforced seclusion has taken its toll on all of us in various ways. Noteworthy events from last week include:
Unlimited time at home has had me making lists of projects to start (and hopefully finish) around the house. I’ve got plans for the utility room, the kitchen, the living room, the twins’ room, the garden… I also have ideas for how all five of us can productively spend our time, and you can imagine how thrilled the other four people in my family were to hear this.
But, as the saying goes, water seeks its own level, and I find we are mostly just pottering about doing what we always did: a little gardening, a little reading, a little binge-watching, some social media, some dog-walking, and – in my case – a whole lot of cooking. I can’t help myself; it’s what I love and what I do given enough time and a set of ingredients.
In this case the ingredients were 500g grams of delicious salad greens from Sarah at the Walled Garden that were reaching their last usable day, some bits of mozzarella that I had squirreled away in the freezer, and basic pantry ingredients that I always have on hand. Continue reading →
The family version, with blueberries from our bushes.
One of the many injustices of life is the over-the-top abundance of food from the garden –that you must attend to before it goes bad – which arrives when you would rather be whiling away the brief end-of-summer days by the sea, or a pool, or really anywhere but the kitchen. I love warm weather, and if I am deprived of any of it for the brief time it arrives on this little island, in this particularly rainy village, I get a little disgruntled.
Well, I say that, but I also happen to love the kitchen. Lucky for me that I can earn my living doing what I love, but even I can be a little daunted by 30 or 40 kilos of beetroot arriving in the college kitchen with the gardeners’ pleas to use it all up. My friend Ruth went to work making pickles and chutneys, and we both cracked on with the boiling, peeling, slicing and bagging of beetroot, ready to freeze and to be used later in the year, when the gardens have given up all their bounty for a long winter’s nap.
In amongst all this beetroot madness, we had a call for a birthday cake. I think you may see where I’m going with this. Continue reading →
Ten years ago, we lived in an old wooden farmhouse in Vermont. It sat at the top of a slope that rolled down to a lazy river, and in the middle of the slope was a huge and ancient apple tree, the variety of which we were never able to establish. Long before we had kids, on one of The Author’s birthdays, friends of ours shimmied up the tree and installed a swing for us to play on. The ropes of the swing were about 20 feet long, and because the tree was on a hill, when you swung even a little bit, you all of a sudden were about 8 feet in the air. If you pumped your legs vigorously, enough to get the swing so high that your toes could touch the dangling apples on the branches above, well, you were very high up indeed. It was thrilling, if not a bit terrifying. Continue reading →
Here’s a quick (and quickly written!) bonus recipe to get you to truffles before the day is out. They taste delicious, they look impressive, and they are incredibly easy to make. You will need: Continue reading →