CONFESSIONS OF A LOCKDOWN MAN BY BRUCE McDOUGALL
So, more than three months in and counting, how’s your Covid lockdown going?
The handbrake on what used to be everyday life has changed the lives of millions worldwide, forcing them to modify behaviour and movement as never before and devise new daily plans just to get by.
For us in the naughty corner in one of Sydney’s local government areas of concern (Georges River), lockdown has been an opportunity to experiment with all manner of weird and wonderful ideas.
While some people kill time hanging out for the Gladys Berejiklian (NSW's Premier) media conference broadcast daily at 11am, others have walked around the same block near their home so many times they feel they are going crazy and started talking to the pigeons and magpies en route.
In our case we retreated to the kitchen where we are engaged in a sort of arms race with the neighbours as to who can come up with the most, the biggest and the grandest creations
At times our kitchen looks like a combination of the Muppets’ Swedish Chef and Dr Bunsen Honeydew and his unwilling assistant Beaker as unusual looking dishes roll off the production line daily, or sometimes, hourly.
Some of the recipes which have had the most ad hoc treatment are so out there as to resemble Jackson Pollock’s famous Blue Poles painting hanging in the National Gallery in Canberra.
But I have to say the flops have been few and far between – most have been devilishly nice - too nice for the weight loss regimen in some cases.
So far the fare has included Rhondda’s gluten free chocolate rum balls, savoury spinach and cheese cakes, pizza with a bizarre broccoli base (tasted ok), homemade gnocchi using beetroot, pumpkin or cauliflower, focaccia with garlic and Moroccan spice, salmon rissoles with real salmon, beef or chicken pastry triangles (hugely popular with the family) and, in a nod to Scotland, the majestic potato scone.
Home grown lemongrass doing its thing in the backyard has gone a long way in many dishes, we have found, along with basil, coriander, rosemary, mint and parsley. Even more herbs could be added to these ensuring your creations are super fresh.
For the sweeter tooth there’s been banana bites (GF and sugarless) and sultana cake. Pudding of the month is fresh pear, cinnamon, honey, pecan and a dollop of yoghurt.
But at ours in recent times the most out-there experiments have revolved around a strange little round fruit that originated in China and looks not unlike a stunted orange – the kumquat.
The ‘quat has a unique strange two speed flavour – sweet and sour – making it excellent for a variety of treatments including marmalade, a spread for cake tops, fashioned into chocolate candy soaked in rum, brandy or vodka, or in experimental juices and smoothies with oats and banana.
Every year in recent times we have hot footed it through the bush north west of Sydney to a farm that has kumquats in bulk and collect buckets of them off the trees.
This year, though, no dice due to Covid and our poor old farmer has gone online saying he is tearing his hair out with frustration because his orchard is full of the little orange blighters and there are no pickers to harvest them.
Having bent your ear with some of our kitchen escapades, I’d be keen to hear what delights everyone else has been cooking up during house arrest (Let us know in the comments box below).
As for us, it will be more of the same, at least until Gladys lets us out.
But first, I think we need to check the damage to our waistlines. The neighbour just knocked and left a basket of fantastic Italian almond cookies called Cranberry Amaretti.
Now where did we put those scales?