The new home page - a reminder that soon we might have a nice cup of tea and a madeleine together. Royal Doulton (De Luxe c.1935) tea set I've been too careful to use. That attitude stops now!
Not not my pantry. I wish. I did do a yearly clear up, sort and tidy a few weeks before we had to lie low. It's been said, derisively, that it's about control. You betcha it's about control. Feeling in control (and knowing where things are) is my rod, my safety net, my security blanket.
We have our demons and we deal with them how we can. We have our personal way of getting through. If you're a messer, that's fine. But to quote Dr Phil, "And how's that working for you?"
Above a tidy drawer (for a tidy mind, haha).
While some in the community were tackling their pantry and kitchen shelves I got to work on my stationery drawers, all five of them. They were certainly the result of hoarding or rather years of tossing something, to simply get it out of sight. As well as an embarrassing number of systems and boxes that had promised to finally get stuff in order, there were enough biros, pencils, staplers, rubbers, batteries, paper clips, sharpeners, tape rolls, bluetack and homeless keys to last until 2050.
While throwing out dried-out biros and rock-hard erasers, I re-discovered various fountain pens, including a 1960s streamlined Parker from a mixed auction box. A satisfying hour was spent "servicing" them all and filling them with various coloured inks, (more than enough ink to transcribe the complete works of Proust.) Best of all, I was re-aquainted with my lovely Montblanc pen. We made friends and it will now never leave my side.
So you have hundreds of postcards. You collected them (as essentials) while travelling, checking out the museum shop, at the craft shop of that small sea-side town. You know you'll get to send them, one day. Well now is the time.
Resist sorting them (unless you have absolutely nothing else to do). Just take the first from the top. (This could turn into an ironic, zany joke; the Madonna in Assumption for a devout atheist, coffee pots through the ages for a friend missing her Tall Decaf Soy Skinny Vanilla Latte Frappé.)
Let's keep the solitude but still connect. Bring joy. Don't Zoom. Send a card. There's not much room for writing; just a "Hi! Thinking of you. Hope you're well " will suffice. And you get to clear out a few cards. (You will have to find a pen, find the address and brave the outside world to buy stamps. But you'll manage.)
A final frontier - those cute miniature tubes of face-cream, the little gift with purchase or the complimentary airline "comfort" pouches. We love a gift and when we get home, we just dump it and forget it. But these small things can still cause a twinge of guilt when you spot them at the back of the drawer.
Gather them all together, and into a small jar squeeze them out, slit them open with nail scissors; the lotions that promised to resurrect, soothe, lift, hydrate, moisturise, detoxify, brighten, perfect, replenish, relax; the serums, the night, the day, the eye creams, the neck creams. Blend with a saté stick.
This will make a good hand-balm and with all the hand washing and alcohol sanitiser, you're going to need it. (And trust me, you won't grow eye lashes on your wrist by transporting eye cream to an alien area.)
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The supermarket - the choice is yours. Tins or Fresh.
I stand before you chastened. My comments in the post of 1/1/2020 mocked the over-use of hand sanitisers and house sprays. I talked of "lightening up" on the germ front, I suggested kids get into the dirt and play. Now, we are in lockdown, separated from each other, hounded by the universal spread of this rogue virus. We follow our daily dose of media because it all seems simply incomprehensible (and heart breaking). I'm taking the cautions seriously.
Personally, I have to admit, I'm fine. I don't associate boredom with solitude. The playwright Tom Stoppard is enjoying the peace, he says. "This is the life I’ve always wanted — social distancing without social disapproval".
I'm carefully avoiding the panic shopping, in fact it's fascinatingly humorous. Loo paper, bottled water, pasta (of that more later) leave behind mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Butchers hold a healthy variety of good meat, fish is still swimming in the ocean and being caught. What are these panickers eating? There might be a shortage of latex gloves but there's no shortage of good, local food.
To paraphrase our government -
"Together, we can cook our way through this."
(Can we ask the media to stop paraphrasing - " Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1985) unless they've read the book?")
Waiting is what we have at the moment, and if you need variety and innovation in your cooking, check the site “ckbk” (https://www.ckbk.com). It's offering 30 days free subscription.
“ckbk” is a digital collection of cook books, brought together through the expert advice of world-class chefs and food writers (including yours truly), sourced worldwide. It even ranks the most essential books of all time. See their list - 1000 top cook books and the list continues to grow. (And who doesn't love a list?) Incidentally, according to their poll, (https://app.1000cookbooks.com/books) the list begins as follows...
#1 Mastering the Art of French Cooking Julia Child
#2 Nose to Tail Eating Fergus Hendersen
#3 The French Laundry Cookbook Thomas Keller
#4 Larousse Gastronomique Prosper Montagné
#5 French Provincial Cooking Elizabeth David
#6 White Heat Marco Pierre White
Subscribers get unlimited access to the complete content of every book.
Left: Rosemary's perfect loaf
Friends are cooking. Most of all, they’re baking and preserving even though bread, jams and chutneys are not part of the stockpilers' booty. People who once boasted they were too busy (inferring not too subtly, that they were above it all, with better things to do) are making not only dinner but interesting breakfasts (which they now have time to eat) and are finding they are quite good at it.
So, if baking is to be your "boredom filler" of choice, take the humble Pavlova to new heights with Lorraine Elliot's blog, nicely named "Not Quite Nigella".
You'll never turn off the oven.
And treat yourself to the enthusiasm of young Gallic cutie Alex - The French Guy.
Random YouTubes will find him exploring methodically (and with a laugh) anything from pasta to pommes de terre in his workshop or cycling around Paris.
He's just finished a three part series on the perfect meatball, (just what you've always needed).
https://alex meatball youtube
His fridge magnets sold out too quickly, where he sensibly reminded us...
So finally, could self-isolating be just another name for self-improving?
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