The big foodie lockdown

Quarantine

If food wasn’t already at the centre of your day, lockdown may well have changed that. My family are constantly thinking about the next meal as the next fun activity of the day. It’s one of the only ways to feel a normal sense of structure. I think we should fully embrace this obsession and make food in lockdown an EVENT. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours on food or trying desperately to find expensive, unknown ingredients in a long-queue-mask-wearing-stress-inducing trip to a supermarket.

I realise that living spaces vary dramatically, so I’ve tried to keep this as inclusive and universal as possible. Here are a few ideas for making the most of this turbulent time in the only way I know how:

Theme night

Pick a country or an idea and roll with it! Recreate food from your favourite holiday, or somewhere you just watched a documentary about, even base it on a film. Caribbean night? Get the rum out and try your hand at making roti. Italian night? Make pizzas, buy pizzas, use it as an excuse to drink prosecco. Gavin and Stacey night? Anyone for an omelette…?

First attempt at making roti and coconut chickpea curry with golden rice

Picnic!

This does not mean that you have to be outside if you haven’t got a garden, all you need is to push your sofa back and sit on the floor, preferably on a rug for the full effect! Grab some sandwiches, maybe a pack of Quorn scotch eggs, crisps, hummus, a Pimms if you can track any down… the carpet is your oyster. It’s silly and playful but that’s the beauty of it!

Indoor coffee table picnic
Picnic two: the boujee (and boozy) outdoor edition

Cocktail night

I saw a post the other day about a life changing website. MAKE ME A COCKTAIL .COM. Incredible. Input everything you have in the cupboard, fridge and fruit bowl and it will tell you all the weird and wondering drinks you can make with ingredients you already have. It is very tempting to spend an evening doing this, especially when you don’t have to get up early for work the next day… what can I do with these two bottles of port someone bought us for Christmas? Let’s find out…

Family gin tasting (mostly drinking)

Fakeaway

Some people are lucky enough to still have access to Deliveroo but I live in the middle of bittersweet nowhere. There isn’t a single local business that delivers to my parent’s house so if we are craving our favourite curry or Chinese takeaway, we have to DIY. There are a million and one recipes out there for all your favourite dishes and I’m sure your housemates will love you it.

Fry your own poppadoms are so crunchy and much more like the real thing than the packet ones!

Rotate who cooks

I do most of the cooking in the house and my mum does the rest but my dad and sister… is toast cooking? We challenged them to cook for us one night and they did such a good job with two delicious curries! I know families who have multiple siblings, all with different tastes and preferences and rotating the cooking is a great way for everyone to feel like you not only have some control over your day but also that you are introducing your family/friends to something they might not usually eat. Switch it up a bit!

Brilliant curry night cooked by my dad and sister

Eat somewhere different

A bit like with the picnic, it doesn’t matter how much space you have. Eat on the floor, eat in the lounge, eat in the hallway, move your kitchen table, put a table cloth on it, take the table cloth off – do whatever your space allows for you to feel you’re having a ‘different’ dining experience. And dress up for dinner! I wear leggings and massive t-shirts all day long, let me wear a dress or a shirt or, god forbid, a pair of jeans in the evening. A change of scene is good for everyone.

Move the table into the lounge and rename it the Sissinghurst Tandoori (a combination of fakeaway and eating in a different room!)

Timeless time-intensive classics (slow cook that bad boy)

You don’t need a slow cooker to make your cooking a labour of love. Make a proper tomato sauce and cook it for 2 hours, make a hearty sew, roast vegetables whole (peppers, squash, sweet potatoes), make your own stock, put some effort into a lasagne recipe, make your own pasta, bread, pastry, anything! Give your food the time and effort it deserves.

Make something you’ve never made before

Choux pastry! Feel like you’re straight out of Bake Off and have a go at eclairs. Or maybe something you’ve never even heard of! What the hell is a sformato?

olive magazine’s Cauliflower sformato
First attempt at Paul Hollywood’s eclairs!

Pickle something

I had never pickled anything before lockdown and now I can’t get enough! Pickling gives you a project and everyone is in need of that right now, so grab some vinegar and a crunchy veg and experiment. Pickled red onion and red cabbage work particularly well and transform wraps, tacos, salads and rice dishes. I’m excited to try some cucumbers soon…

Pickled red onion in red wine vinegar and peppercorns

If everyone is going to obsess over food in lockdown, we may as well do it right! Please share any other fun tips and tricks for staying sane in quarantine in the comments below πŸ™‚

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