Cooking · Country life · Isolation

Isolation forces freezer adventures to continue…

…you know you’ve got too much time on your hands when you make an inventory of your freezer – yes that’s actually happened, I did that – and guess what, I rather enjoyed it!

We all know that most of us have no idea what’s in there and it’s true to say I didn’t.

Who knew our freezers contained 17 different types of ice cream (all homemade experiments – cucumber is still my favourite flavour).

As days five, six and seven in isolation arrived a number of adventures unfolded:

  • I became much more aware of the ingredients I was using in every dish – in that I used them wisely and creatively (more on that later)
  • The grass received it’s first cut of the year – well half of it did (the mower stopped)

  • The cows made use of the cuttings and loved them – they can smell the grass growing and are keen to head back out to the paddocks

  • I made beef deliveries across south Norfolk to people who couldn’t get out or needed a restock – we still have lots of mince, joints and sausage wheels
  • I drove into a supermarket car park and drove out – it was full and people were queuing with face masks on – when you head out and leave the sanctity of home this pandemic really hits home ten-fold
  • On my way home I called into Friends Farm in Alburgh (on the recommendation of our wonderful postie) to find a stall full of wonderful fruit and vegetables  – the only thing we’d got short of in the past two weeks. There was no one else there and the quality was brilliant

  • I caught up on admin – working through the pile of papers I’d been putting off
  • I finished power-washing the patios and steps – gosh that’s a satisfying activity
  • I’ve spent more time with all the animals

  • …and, we’ve lugged, chopped and stacked more wood

The garden and countryside continue to burst into life with new growth apparent each day. Flowers are opening, the rape seed fields are bursting into bloom and the hedges continue to green up.

 

For me, our daily long dog walk has become more fascinating – it’s the one time I regularly see the outside world. I’ve a greater sense of the changes in nature and the change of pace in my own life is one I seem to suit.

I’ve taken great pride in making:

  • Leek and potato soup – made with frozen leeks found during the freezer inventory and a couple of spuds. Garnished with chives from the garden

  • Sourdough bread – eaten with butter and with Seville orange curd

  • Lamb stock – made with lamb bones found in the back of the freezer, herbs from the garden, tomato, celery, onion and carrot

  • Rump Hereford steak and chips, grilled tomatoes, onion rings (homemade) and peppercorn sauce – found in the freezer
  • Roast shoulder of lamb from our neighbour with red cabbage (on it’s last legs and revived with apple, onion, sugar, herbs and cider vinegar), roast honey parsnips and peas with a rich lamb gravy made from the lamb stock
  • Homegrown poached rhubarb cooked in damson gin (homemade) and orange zest

  • …the peanuts, Christmas cake and fruit continue apace.

It’s truly wonderful how certain situations can make you more adaptable – I’m loving the challenge of making dishes with what I have in store.

If you’re used to following recipes to the letter (like I am), we now live in a world where they, more than ever, just become a guide to flavour combinations. The challenge we face is feeding ourselves – we might not always love what we come up with but versatility and adventure is key!

Looking at the pantry, the one thing we may run short of is snacks – but if you have nuts, egg whites and spice, try the recipe below. It’s quick, adaptable and blooming tasty…

Spiced nuts

Course Snack
Author Kate

Ingredients

  • 250 g Mixed nuts
  • ½ egg white
  • 10 g spice mix

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan

  2. Place the nuts on a baking tray and roast them until they begin to colour (about 7 minutes)

  3. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool

  4. Once cool, place them in a bowl with the egg white and spice mix and combine well

  5. Return the mixture to the oven for 5 minutes, serve once cool

  6. These last for about 2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Recipe Notes

For the recipe you can use any combination of nuts (I often use walnuts and almonds) and any spice mix - I make my own five spice mix (star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns and cinnamon) but you could use ras-el-hamout, chilli flakes and corriander, barbecue etc.

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