Monday 4 May 2020

In my kitchen: May 2020: lockdown comfort food, craft and garden

It is interesting that it is getting colder in Melbourne and yet the cases of CoVid19 are decreasing at a incredibly hopeful rate.  Government plans for a temporary hospital and morgue have been put aside (for now).  Our federal government is pressuring our state government to send the kids back to school.  At home I am very aware of the colder weather, now that I am spending so much time there.  No long warming bike rides to work or sitting in a heated office.  So last week I headed out to Bunnings hardware store to buy a heater and a lamp for my home office corner of the bedroom that is getting very cold and dark in the autumn gloom.  (I like the idea of light sensors in theory but don't miss the sensors in my work office that never seem to know I am there and leave me in the dark too often unless I get out of my seat and dance.) And did I mention record-breaking heavy rains!  Ironic after the year started with bushfires and heatwaves that by end of April we have had as much rain in 4 months as we had in 12 months last year.

So it will come as no surprise that comfort food is on the table a lot lately.  The top photo is a version of my favourite vegetarian lasagne which I make from time to time.  I am still feeling very time-poor and low in energy, which does not make sense as you would think I have more of both being at home so much.  But I did not think I would be able to make the lasagne in one go.  So I made the tomato, beans and veg sauce on one night and served it with short pasta.  Then I made the lasagne the next night but as it always takes me a while I made the cheese sauce and put half into a mac and cheese that Sylvia loved and ate other leftovers to avoid a really late dinner.  It was worth my cunning plans to outwit my tiredness and kept me happy at dinner (and occasionally lunch) all week.

A couple of weeks ago I took this photo as it seemed to sum up my Sunday.  I baked bread, did the washing, found the Easter eggs when checking the pockets of a jumper of Sylvia's before it went into the washing machine, and relaxed some some samurai suduko.  I took some notes on my suduko page while listening to the radio.  Not terribly exciting but at least I could finish the day feeling I had a few achievements.

I made a Japanese curry with tofu nuggets.  Stay tuned to hear more about that!  The tofu nuggets used to be a favourite and I was surprised how much Sylvia still loved them.  I should make them more.  We had quite a few leftover and some were great in tacos with cheese, vegetables and salsa.

It is the time of year for stewed fruit.  I love stewed plums and we ate these mostly by the spoonful but occasionally with toffee yoghurt.  They were really good with a bit of cinnamon and a squeeze of orange juice.  I have some apples and more plums that need stewing when I find a bit more time.

After the great toilet paper shortage in the supermarkets, our shopping zen is much restored as the shelves return to normal.  Flour has been slower to return than toilet paper but the supermarkets have removed restrictions on how many products can be bought.  Even so I was so excited to see a lone 5kg bag of flour that I managed to tie it to the back of my bike with a cloth bag.  My 12.5kg bag of flour was just about finished.  When I went shopping a few days later, there were a few large bags as well as many more smaller packets but I was glad we had seen the flour when dropping into the supermarket because I had needed it for bread before my next visit.

One of the great things about Melbourne's CoVid19 diagnoses being so low is that it is more relaxing going to the supermarket.  No longer does a trip to the supermarket seems like a dangerous mission that might end in death, where you look at each person with suspicion and wonder who else has touched any product you pick up.  It feels a bit more normal now.  Though there is still a need for vigilance.  We still need to get through the winter.  But everyone is hoping to be out of lockdown soon.

And here is my e-bike.  I took this photo when out of my ride a couple of weekends ago after I bought some Good Brew Hibiscus, Lemongrass and Ginger Kombucha at Ray's.  It ended up in my kitchen where my bike is usually parked in my kitchen until I get some outside storage sorted.  I miss having kombucha in my weekly catch up with other mothers after school and buying it at the farmers market but it is still nice to bring home a bottle of it occasionally.  My biggest regret during lockdown is not having got a scoby started.

My garden is in flux outside my kitchen.  Basil and strawberries are on the way out, my baby leeks are ok, my parsley is returning after going to seek and the kale plant continues to thrive.  I am most excited about the parsley because it took me years to get it to the stage where now for a couple of years I have had it regrow in its little patch.

Our camelia is flowering.  It seems amazing, given how much it has been neglected, but the recent rains have helped.  The catnip is at the top of the photo.  I am still amazed how it thrives.  It is less surprising though, when I remember it is related to mint.  Mint is one of the hardiest plants in my little garden.

The fruitful lime tree is also a pleasant surprise after some garden neglect over summer.  Sadly the lemon is a bit sadder and not about to give us any fruit right now though there is some flowering happening.  The limes have started to fall off the tree so we made limeade tonight.

Sylvia has been getting through school at home in plenty of time and keeping herself amused at home with some craft projects.  We went out in search of autumn leaves for her to give faces.  They are so cute.  It is odd every now and again though when I find one of her leaves on the floor staring up at me!

She made bath bombs, which make for relaxing baths.  The pink bombs are scented with rose essential oil and decorated with rose petals from our garden.  The yellow bath bombs are flavoured with a buttered popcorn food flavouring.  Sylvia loves how they fizz in the bath and make her skin feel soft and sweet smelling.

And when we have cute cupcake papers and Sylvia sees an idea for making them into owls, she can't resist.  She did two of them and I had a go at one.  My green and blue owl at the back looks a bit unsure of itself.  They were not as easy to sticky tape together as they look!

As well as her own personal projects, it is interesting to see much more of Sylvia's school work than I usually would.  She has had some fun art projects to do at home.  Today she made the little tinfoil person and tomorrow she gets to play with coloured iceblocks!

I bought these Pumped Up Pumpkin Lentil Bites in the supermarket.  I think the amusing pumpkin character on the packet made me want them but I also liked that they were almost half lentil and chickpea flour with not too many other ingredients.  They tasted very pleasing but I am not buying them again as they have individually packaged bags and sometimes I can resist excess packaging.

And we have had some evenings playing board games.  I prefer Scrabble because I had forgotten how long Monopoly takes but Sylvia is rather fond of a long night of Monopoly.  Life in lockdown is odd at the moment but we are lucky in Melbourne that is is not as bad as elsewhere around the world.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  I am grateful to Sherry for soldiering on despite all the upheaval as In My Kitchen is always a fun event. If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog and visit more kitchens.


  1. I can relate to the feeling of being time poor and low on energy :( Sigh. BUT very excited to see that Australia's COVID numbers are looking so optimistic. I hope things continue to go well. Over here it is still very much a crisis. Supermarkets have been well stocked but flour is still nowhere to be found. Board games are livening up our evenings too, and give me Scrabble over Monopoly any day!

  2. Funny you say, that you are feeling very time-poor and low in energy, I started with energy like the Duracell bunny but the last two weeks I have been feeling overwhelmed with work and don't have the energy to blog or even read a book. Your bath bombs were on my radar to make over the past month, but neither of my crafting plans have materialised. So pleased to see you got your hands on flour, i got a delivery last week as we were running down too, so feel fortunate. When you so start a scoby, do share. I'd like to make my own at home, but have never been able to get a starter from anywhere. I adore Sylvia's crafts, esp, the eyes on the leaves and the tinfoil person is so cool. Nice to see some colour from your garden too, esp. that lime tree.

  3. Please tell Sylvia that her leaves with faces made me laugh - somewhere on the other side of the world, one person had a much needed chuckle because of her work! I know the feeling of low energy - for me I think it's a reflection of low mood. I hope the end of lockdown and corona isn't too far away. I enjoyed seeing your garden too - outside space is such a lovely thing to have.

  4. The stewed plums sound lovely. I am glad flour is back. When I was 10 I adored Monopoly and I am sure I drove everyone crazy insisting that they play.

  5. Kids where I grew up sometimes had Monopoly games going for days on end. I think they had a way to restart a game when all the money ran out. Your kitchen seems so busy, not just with cooking, and looks so satisfying. It's great that you have overcome isolation in some way.

    Reading blogs is definitely one of my self-help activities: I hope you keep writing!

    be well... mae at

  6. I am glad that Australia is doing well, it's still a crisis here in the states and going (I am afraid) to be messier. You have some lovely projects going, Sylvia looks like a very imaginative and creative girl. And I understand that feeling of lethargy. I think it is a symptom of our emotional response to the current situation, I have it as well. Stay well and safe.

  7. Wow your lime tree looks fantastic! I always wanted to have a lemon tree so I finally got one this year, it's still a tiny baby. I was also really amused by the leaves with eyes, thanks for the little giggle it brought today! So glad flour is back on shelves...

  8. hi johanna
    thanks heaps for joining in this month. i am still not feeling the blog love, and am finding it hard to be enthusiastic. Love sylvia's autumn leaf faces - very cute. It's going to be weird with things loosening up; i think i may even miss some of the restrictions - the peace and quiet... How fabulous to have your own limes. they are so useful too. our shelves have toilet paper, but very little flour and pasta and rice. goodness knows what people are doing with these. take care and see you next month

  9. Ooh hope that didn't sound like i meant i wasn't enthusiastic about your blog and post. I mean my own!:)

  10. We've been eating stewed plums this week too! You ebike looks so fancy - I am particularly envious of the low cross-bar that you are presumably able to step through. My second-hand one has a high bar so I've had to get used to swinging my leg over the back, and also to dress accordingly. :D

  11. I should get my nieces to make bath bombs - will keep them occupied for sure. Australia seems to have done really well in some places. Well done on being able to do samurai suduko - that is not something I am brave enough to try.

  12. I remember playing Monopoly for hours as a kid. It does look as though your daughter has some good projects going to encourage her creativity. I find, though I'm home more hours, not as much cleaning is being done as should be. Lots of cooking though.

  13. Thanks for sharing the distance learning projects!


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