Saturday, 11 April 2020

Baking and Birthdays

Today there is - finally- more time to write.

It is 13.37 and the men are nowhere to be seen. Mr A is in his art studio - a man cave at the bottom of the garden for which we give thanks on a daily basis. To have that space in which to be creative whilst listening to your vinyl collection is surely a gift from God!

The other Mr A (Jnr) is in bed. Which is also a wonderful thing. I truly feel for young people at this time, whose social lives were taken from them at a moment's notice. Gigs cancelled, football season curtailed, pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants closed. Even cafes and coffee shops, leaving almost literally no where to escape to! This has to be tough, especially when many of them are living in lockdown with their parents. Some are continuing their university studies online, hardly the student experience they signed up to and were enjoying. Many are working from home. But others, from keyworkers from those in health and social care to supermarket workers and refuse collectors, are bravely working then returning home to hot showers, clothes placed straight in the washing machine and that lurking concern that any cough or sniffle may be the sign of the virus.

All of which is basically the lead up to saying that a late night playing games and drinking a few cans of beer with mates is an excellent idea. And since it is the Bank Holiday weekend why not then have a lie in the next day?

With so much time to write this feels like a good opportunity to explore what went on yesterday. In some ways it felt like a waste of a day to spend so much time cooking. However there was a definite satisfaction in making what was possibly the best lasagne I have ever eaten.

It began with six eggs and 600g of strong flour - which I would usually be using for scones. I simply combined them into a dough, kneaded this until it was smooth then rolled it out as thinly as I could. If truth be told my arms did ache and my shoulders are paying for it today! I cut it into sheets to use for a lasagne, with some left overs made into noodles which dried out over the rim of a large water jug. One thing I learnt - you need a pasta roller if you are going to do this regularly. Second thing I learnt - don't attempt to knead the scraps together as you would with pastry or scones. It. Does. Not. Work.

The actual lasagne was a layer of tomato sauce, pasta sheets, roasted vegetables, cheese slices, freshly made b├ęchamel sauce with grated mozzarella and then more of the same. In the oven for half an hour - delicious. Another one is sitting in the fridge with a filling of spinach and cream cheese - can't wait to enjoy that but it will have to wait as there's also a cheese and tomato quiche in the fridge. Oh - and a dozen tuna fishcakes!

The sourdough bread is another world of course, and I am realising how tricky that is to perfect. Patience is the key however and also forgiveness. So it wasn't the perfect loaf but it tasted good with butter and jam in the sunshine this morning!

A day spent in the kitchen was a day well spent, even if it felt as though I was missing out on the sunshine. Lots of good home cooked food to eat, and hopefully a little less waste all round. By the end of the day, pleasantly tired, it was good to relax with a gin and tonic before dinner. A couple of episodes of The Split - our latest watch - and a much better night's sleep!

Saturday - today - April 11th - is our eldest son's 35th birthday. How can that be when it feels like yesterday we brought him home from Watford General. His birth was what they used to call a Domino delivery. Nowadays that is more likely to mean a takeaway pizza but back in the day it meant staying at home until the last possible moment then going into the delivery suite with your community midwife. (What happened in my case incidentally is that on entering the hospital everything stopped and we waited pretty much all night, with Ian reading Agatha Christie to me, before the midwife intervened and he shot out along with the amniotic sac - sorry, I digress).

The day has been a little like my own birthday. The family WhatsApp group has been busy, virtual cards have been exchanged, some made it in the post. Presents ordered online. The scarf I knitted for the baby thankfully arrived in time and has been wrapped around the bump. Soon we will convene again for a video call and sing. There may be a special video from a celebrity again - who knows! For now however it is time to sit back out in the sun!

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