My, how the world has changed since I last blogged. A mere three weeks ago, Ade and I were having dinner in the pub, without a care in the world. Now, all the pubs are closed. Nobody is allowed outside, except for the daily government-approved walk. And shopping at the supermarket is the strangest experience in the world, involving long queues and empty shelves, while shoppers try to maintain a safe two-metre distance from other shoppers, eyeing each other with suspicion.
It’s just so bizarre.
‘You’ll be alright!’ Said my brother, cheerily, on the phone when I told him about the empty shelves in my local supermarket a couple of weeks ago, ‘you grow all your own vegetables!’ I had to remind him that, unfortunately, it’s the wrong time of year for homegrown vegetables. Like most veg plots in the UK, our kitchen garden is pretty bare in March and April. All our summer crops are currently tiny seedlings, emerging slowly in the greenhouse, and we’ve eaten most of the vegetables we had in storage from last autumn.
But there are two crops that have saved the day, and I’m eternally grateful for them. The main one is our purple sprouting broccoli.
Tasty, reliable and packed-full of immunity-boosting vitamin C (which is rather reassuring during a pandemic), it’s been the star of the veg plot for the past few weeks, and a delicious accompaniment to all sorts of meals.
The other trooper is the celery. It’s actually the celery Ade planted last season, so the crown mostly consists of old, tough stalks that have been gnawed at by some hungry creature. Ade had planned to dig it up, but I asked him not to, after I noticed some new stalks coming through. Although these taste quite bitter if eaten raw, they’re great for cooking, so I’ve been using the chopped stalks and leaves a lot in the kitchen these past couple of weeks, mostly in soups and stews.
Of course, there are other delights growing wild at the moment which can help supplement an empty larder while we try to avoid visiting the shops. Wild garlic is in season, if you’re lucky enough to have some growing near you. Sadly, we don’t, as far as I know. But it’s also the season for stinging nettles which we have in abundance! I’ve cooked with these a few times and they’re fantastic; so nutrient-rich and super-tasty. You can check out my recipes for Nettle Pesto and Nettle Houmous if you’re interested!
So, we make the best of what we have as we try to limit our trips to the supermarket to once a fortnight. We’ve no idea how long this will continue, of course. We thank our lucky stars that we moved away from London a year and a half ago, and although we’ve both lost some work due to pandemic, we’re fortunate to be able to continue doing much of our work from home.
How are you guys coping?