Food for Thought
Notes from the Resident Wordsmith at TT Towers
For many people across the UK, the way food is viewed has changed a lot through lockdown. Family meals have become more common, kids have been home begging for a snack, and, at times, the bare necessities have been in short supply. With restaurants shut and many takeaways limiting business, we were all forced to dust off our cookbooks and see what we could do.
I’ve been quite lucky, really – I’ve spent lockdown living with a furloughed chef! But even as two big foodies, our relationships with our meals changed. Sometimes this change was for the worse – sporadic meal times, often eating far too late, and swapping healthy for quick and easy junk food. But other times, with a slight change in mindset, we made the most of what we could access and the time we had spare to cook up a storm of tasty treats.
Staring at empty shelves
At the start of the pandemic, I don’t think any of us expected lockdown to last as long as it has – but we knew it was coming. On the morning before the total lockdown was announced, I headed to the supermarket. I stocked up on enough tinned goods to fill the cupboards and as much fresh stuff as I thought we would need if we were going to be stuck indoors. I haven’t set foot in a supermarket since.
From March 24th, we started shopping locally; we have two shops and a butcher to make the most of. There isn’t as much variety, and a general shop does cost a couple of quid more, but they’ve worked exceptionally hard to keep the village safe and fed. So, some lockdown nightmares that were realities for most – long supermarket queues, empty shelves, no access to essentials – were just terrible stories to us. We could get our hands on milk and eggs and flour thanks to the local shopkeepers working tirelessly to keep stocked up. But there was one shelf that stayed painfully empty for the longest time – the pasta shelf!
Every time I went to top up our supplies, I stared longingly at the shelves usually fit to burst with pasta varieties, now home to a lone pack of lasagne sheets. Then, I realised there’s a perk of having a chef at home (or having access to Google if your chef racks are empty too) – we could make it from scratch. Our kitchen is lacking a rolling pin, so we went for the simplest option with what utensils we had – gnocchi. Honestly? It’s super easy to make, super tasty and certainly curbed my carb cravings. If you want to give it a go, this is essentially the recipe we followed! There’s something really rewarding about making pasta from scratch, and I think it makes the meal taste even better.
Celebrations with a twist
We both had birthdays during lockdown, as did so many others. But, with the restaurants shut (and birthday cake probably not classed as a necessity) we had to mix things up a bit to celebrate.
Cooking for a chef is hard, so I cheated and ordered takeaway for his birthday. But for mine, I was treated to a restaurant-style meal cooked in the comfort of home. It probably wasn’t anything special, but to me, it really made the day considering my usual birthday adventures were cancelled.
We weren’t the only ones having to adapt for a birthday – Aaron at TT Towers baked a birthday cake for the first time in eight years, with a little helping hand or two!
Puzzle Time: Save the TT Super Cone!
The famous TT Super Cone recipe is strewn across the beach and will be lost forever if you don’t solve the Clues! It’s a tricky one this week – logic skills required! So, we suggest you get five scraps of paper labelled with each flavour to move around to help you figure it out! Download the TT Super Cone puzzle to get the scoops in the right order and reveal the taste sensation combination!
#TTSuperCone“ COMPETITION NOW CLOSED!
Thanks for all your entries! And Congratulations to Rosemary Neat who was chosen at random to receive a Treasure Trails gift voucher!
You can now download the answers to the Trail here: TTSuperCone ANSWER
Fun with food
I didn’t spend lockdown with any children, so I can only imagine what the experience was like for parents who suddenly had to entertain and feed their kids all day. However, I did have a chat with Aaron about how he got on with his boys. He said:
“My children became really keen to help prepare the meals, since the pace of life had slowed down, and meals times were once again reclaimed by us all being together. With this, also came some relatively immature – but fun – behaviour with carrot sticks imitating walrus teeth, and food art! ”
“The kids became really interested (surprisingly so) in ingredients as well. On our family walks, my eldest would often pass a plant or flower and ask if it was edible – hopefully not because he was starving hungry!“
Don’t worry, Aaron, he wasn’t the only one; I was doing exactly the same thing!
Finding food in nature
At TT Towers, adventure is in our bones. So, of course, I can’t help but keep my sharp eyes hunting around as I explore – even if I’m not on a Trailing adventure! Foraging has always been something that I’ve been curious about. In fact, I even bought a book on foraging a few months before lockdown with the hopes of slipping some titbits into blog posts. So, armed with my book, sharp eyes and a rumbling belly, I surveyed the area during my daily walks to see what food nature had provided that I could take advantage of!
My experience so far has been rather fruitless (ha, see what I did there?)!. Lockdown got in the way of any sneaky springtime nibbles – I never wanted to linger too long as we walked, so those elderflowers stayed a little out of reach. Early hedgerow fruits had been pecked at by the local birds, and I haven’t caught a single sniff of wild garlic. Still, I’m determined. Those elderflowers are starting to turn into tasty elderberries while the blackberry bushes are already starting to ripen. Watch this space; I’ll be cooking up a tasty apple and blackberry pie in no time at all!
In fact, a lot of foods that you may think of as autumnal finds can start ripening as early as August – especially when the weather has been wet and rubbish. The Woodland Trust has a great guide to what you’ll find each month, as well as some handy tips for when you’re exploring. If you give it a go, let us know what you find!
Getting our hands dirty
There seemed to be three social media food trends during lockdown – baking bread, baking banana bread and growing your own fruit and veggies. As the weather got warmer, I scrolled through my personal feeds jealously looking at the goodies that friends and family had nurtured and pulled out of the soil in their gardens.
The recurring theme seemed to be potatoes – EVERYONE was growing potatoes! It’s not surprising, really, since they’re such a simple (and tasty) plant to grow. I’ve seen some impressive tomato and strawberry plants too, and lots of herb bushes in gardens and on windowsills.
I’ve never been a keen gardener, and I certainly don’t have a green thumb… I don’t even have a garden! But, I did find myself wishing I had an outdoor space to play with, so I could join the homegrown movement. So I did the only thing I could with the space I had: I tried very hard to keep a bought oregano plant alive, and grew some impressive spring onions from scraps using just water!
No garden? No problem!
The reason I’ve never been “into” gardening is that I’m terrible at keeping plants alive. I’ve only managed to keep one plant going for a long period, and that’s the succulent that sits at my desk in TT Towers. However, I haven’t seen it in four months, so I’m not holding out hope that it’s still going strong!
I may not be good at growing, but I’ve always loved lending a hand when it comes to harvesting. I have fond childhood memories of my grandad pushing me around the garden in his wheelbarrow while my sister and I plucked ripe gooseberries and blackcurrants and all manner of fruits from his lovingly nurtured plants.
My love of food most certainly started in my Grandma’s kitchen, so I decided I’d honour this by creating one of her infamous jams. Although, I was a little surprised (and slightly disappointed) to discover that her magic secret recipe was just a standard one, like this great recipe – you just have to substitute half of the blackcurrants for gooseberries.
There’s a hidden gem near us. Well, a few, actually, but this one is a firm favourite – Trevaskis Farm. As well as a fab restaurant with a dessert counter to die for, Trevaskis has an extensive selection of pick-your-own fruit and veggies. Once they reopened, I made my way there to get what I needed, fresh blackcurrants and gooseberries, and tried very hard not to get distracted by the gigantic, juicy strawberries.
I don’t think I quite expected to enjoy it as much as I did, but from the moment I plucked that first berry, I was eight years old again. Farms across the UK have pick-your-own fields for everyone to enjoy. If, like me, you haven’t got the greenest of thumbs but crave super fresh goodies, take a trip to your local pick-your-own and go wild!
Share your story
We’d love to see or hear how you experimented with food during lockdown, whether you got creative with your cooking or got your hands dirty in the garden. Please head over to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to show us what you’ve been up to!
Aaron Hutchens 3rd August 2020
Posted In: Ideas