Cooking during isolation….

Isolation has actually helped me, in ways I didn’t imagine at all. I’ve found, despite working from home and learning some very weird things about myself i’m actually enjoying taking a step back and just chilling. It’s made me so much more grateful every time I’m outside in our “garden” and the freedom we have in this house. I mean, if we’d have been living at the old flat, i’m pretty sure neither of us would have lasted!

The kitchen is one of my favourite rooms of this place, and the space in it was something which was a definite positive when we first saw it. The only thing that I didn’t like was the hob, it’s a ceramic type hob and that meant that my pressure cooker would be relegated to the back of the cupboard, this isn’t that big of a deal, in fact, that was my only negative about the whole move, so really, not that big of a deal at all.

Cut to Christmas 2019, my parents bought us an electric pressure cooker and i’ll be honest, I was a bit scared and put of using it till probably 2 months ago – I needed a stew, had no time and thought, now more than ever, is the time for me to get over this!

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I’m so glad I did!

Since being in lock-down, the extra time has meant that I am able to browse and find recipes – mostly using Pinterest, making sure we can get the ingredients (or substitutes) and then just have a bash. (I apologise to the good cooks out there, i’m so much more of a have a bash cooker, at least then it may or may not work and i’m not giving myself delusions of grandeur!) We’ve had some great meals recently and despite there being little or no pics, I can tell you, by the expansion of my waistline that it’s all been blooming marvellous!

So far i’ve not been that adventurous but we’ve been eating like kings.

When we moved, I had previously been subscribing to the Simply Cook service, we were sent recipe kits with sauce and herb/spice mixes and then we could create the meals as and when we wanted. Thing is though, we work ridiculous hours and pretty much never eat together so when we moved, we still had about 20 of these things just sitting in their boxes looking at me accusingly and slowly going out of date!

I thought it’d be better to try and use these as opposed to wasting them, so last week we had thai green curry, cajun meatballs with a pasta and cajun chicken breasts with chips and veg. All were lovely, surprisingly flavourful and made a real difference to our meals. Its encouraged us to try more and we’re both having fun creating new menus or coming up with substitutions to make our lives easier! The best thing has been how easy they all have been, the recipes are clear and concise and the food is quick and easy to prepare so within i’d say 30 mins, you’ve got a yummy meal.

We’ve still got a few to get through too!

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I did a roast chicken yesterday, I want to do more work on this, it was nice but not hugely flavourful so I want to work on dry rubs, or a more intense gravy. Still searching for the nirvana of chicken. We put it in the oven for the last 10 mins or so, just to get a bit of colour on the skin. I thank the recipe provider though, she recommended 15 mins at pressure (as opposed to the 30 odd minutes in my recipe book), she was spot on, perfectly moist and falling off the bone, if i’d have left it in there for much longer we’d have had a soup!

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As I was in full cook mode yesterday, while the roast chicken was on, I made a swirl cake in the slow cooker.

The recipe I had recommended cherry jam and glace cherries for a bit more texture. I’ve never done a cake in the slow cooker previously, I was also worried it wouldn’t work but it seems to have come out like a steamed pudding, so this with lashings of custard will make a lovely dessert!

This is the mix in the slow cooker….

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A friend of mine thought this was scrambled egg, so apologies for the photo! My house smells AMAZING right now haha!

I also decided to make some cookies – cos you know, when you’re slowly going crazy, cooking is a good way of maintaining a little bit of sanity! I’ve had a thing for cookies and milk for a while, which is odd because normally i’d give up milk for cheese any day, so savoury is more my thing, but i’d actually dreamt of cookie cups for ice cream the other night and got up with the drive to make some.

I didn’t do the cups in the end – it’s still a bit too cold for ice cream I think – but I did make blob cookies to mix it up a bit. Blob cookies are a cookie (whatever base you fancy) with a blob of jam or chosen yum on top – a bit like a jammie dodger. These were choc chip base with nutella stuff for him and peanut butter for me. They’re yum – a little mouthful of joy and crisp enough to be perfect with some milk 🙂

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Did you ever have school meals? Was there ever something that was part of a school lunch which made your day when you saw it was on offer? Let’s be honest, was there anything you would have forgone everything else on offer for?

For me, there’s always been this one chocolate recipe that my school made, called Chocolate Crunch. This was a chocolate cake type of base with a crunchy chocolate biscuit topping for which I would happily forego everything else, just for a piece of that with hot custard to relish in the common room. But despite badgering the school cooks for now over 20 years and trying a myriad of recipes, i’ve never managed to even get close.

Again, yay for isolation baking because an old friend of mine managed to have a play with an old recipe she found, shared it and by gods, I think she’s got it.

Turns out its pretty much a simple sponge recipe which once it’s on the tray it’s patted with water and then sugar is sprinkled on top to create the crunch. Simple no? 20 years of my life to find that out…..took me 2 days to recreate it once i’d seen the recipe –

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Ok, it may not look pretty, but the taste it pretty much there. It needs more sugar on top but now I have this in my life again, the chances are, it’ll become a much beloved friend!

A massive thanks to Corrine for finding and sharing this magic! You have no idea how pleased I am to have this in my life haha.

I’m loving having the time at home to do these things, I am at heart always happier at home and being able to try and do new things is actually really good for my soul.

Have you tried anything new since being at home? Feel free to show off your creations and tag me in recipes – I’m always happy to try new things.

 

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