Dinner ideas and easy baking during lockdown

By H&T Pawnbrokers Mon, Aug 01, 2022
What’s for dinner?! Food is one of the things that makes me happy and I’m pretty much thinking about it all the time. I enjoy cooking and come from a family that uses food to show that we care. Whether that’s making soup because someone is poorly, a birthday celebration or just getting together, food is always front and centre. This is something I’ve enjoyed with the H&T family too, especially when I’m in store, there is often cake and customers have even bought me doughnuts. We always chat about what we are going to have for lunch or dinner, and I am missing that.

From the start of the pandemic food has been something of a heightened issue, not just for me but for everyone. With stockpiling by some, shortages of things like flour and restrictions on other items coupled with the government asking us to go to the shops as infrequently as possible food is always on my mind. Previously, I would pop to get something I’d forgotten on most lunch breaks and we’d get home deliveries. Now we are trying to go seven to ten days between shops and making sure we don’t overspend, or runout which is taking some serious planning.

I’ve discovered some really useful things, like making your own chicken stock is easier than I thought and makes the base for a lovely soup. The storks of broccoli and cauliflower are great in said soup too. Cauliflower leaves are not pleasant to eat, no matter how much butter you add they are nothing like spring greens, despite what the internet said –but hey, you can’t win them all!

Just because we can’t be with family doesn’t mean we’ve stopped talking about food or sharing, its just different! We’ve done food shops for my mum. Sent takeaways to family that have been down and even sent wine (not food, but still part of a meal?!) so we can have a drink together – did you know Aldi deliver wine and spirits? I know we’re really lucky to still be able to do this.

Most chats we have include the all-important question, “What’s for dinner?”. We’ve had a lot of comfort food, roast dinners, usually chicken, beef and mushroom pie (there is a debate here that it is not a pie it is a stew with a lid), stew, soup and burgers. Plus, I’ve been trying to recreate some of our favourite treat dishes, like dirty fries or chicken wraps.

There’s also been a lot of talk about cakes, we were lucky in that we had a lot of baking stuff, as most of the time I really enjoy baking and we’d been on a health kick since Christmas so there was still flour at home. This meant chocolate birthday cake for hubby was made and this one froze well so we didn’t have to eat it all at once! We found a jar of preserved lemons in the cupboard, and had the sweetest but yummiest lemon drizzle cake, I may have misread the recipe and added in all of the sugar at the time of baking. Still it was good, eating the preserved lemon slices was less good, but very funny to watch the faces being pulled! We also made a carrot cake for the cats birthday as she loves cream cheese icing. Lockdown madness may have set in and we are celebrating everything this year.

We’re now out of flour and I’ve found myself asking, can you bake without flour? Yes, but I found it harder than regular baking, as you actually had to follow the recipe exactly and things were less forgiving when I got distracted and misread things, as tends to be the way for me. This chocolate cake was one of my favourites and one that worked well.

One thing I have rediscovered is fridge cakes, these are all made without flour! We made a lovely and really easy rocky road, using some left over shortbread and sultanas. The wonderfully named hello Rosie slice, after discovering you can turn evaporated milk into condensed milk. We’ve also had some slightly less successful cheesecakes, they didn’t set, but this would be my impatience rather than the recipe and they did taste good.

I’m grateful that I have the option to try these things, even the ones that haven’t worked, its great to be able to learn and pick up this hobby for the last few months. Hopefully, sometime soon I’ll see you in-store and we can have a proper conversation and I can get more inspiration from you on what to cook and can share some of this baking.