A week has passed since my weekend away in Suffolk. In that time the air has cooled and decaying leaves have begun to fall, a second lockdown looms bringing the wrath of panic buyers with it. My kitchen resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, forcing me to face the supermarket aisles. A common cold not Covid has found me and I want to be snuggled in my pyjamas and slippers in front of the television, not dodging demented shoppers determined not to miss out on their 3 item daily allowance of bog roll. Newsflash! Unlike doctors surgeries, the supermarkets remained open during this pandemic. And if the apocalypse is coming I want coffee and chocolate by my side, not a room full of Andrex. I have a twelve packet at home that will see me through, so I steer wide of toilet aisle asylum and instead search for the ultimate comfort food.
Cinnamon Rice Pudding
Ingredients (Serves 2)
45g Pudding Rice
25g Soft Brown Sugar
Pint of Milk
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Knob of Butter
Jam to serve
Rice pudding is traditionally done in the oven, but I am not a fan of the skin. I have tried the hob option a couple of times, with varying degrees of burnt milk. Now I use the slow cooker, a sure way to achieve perfectly cooked (skin free) rice pudding each and every time.
All I do is add pudding rice, soft brown sugar, milk, cinnamon and a knob of butter to the slow cooker. Switch it on high and leave for three hours, stirring occasionally. Dish up and add jam. Simple, yummy and not a toilet roll in sight. Perfect!
Pop goes the toaster and minutes later I’m running for the bus, with a coffee in one hand and a soggy piece of buttered toast in the other. Marmite, cheese, peanut butter, jam; the choices are endless with this super quick and easy feed. But it may become a limited menu option, as the National Farmers Union (NFU) predict the worst wheat harvest the UK has seen in decades. Lockdown and fears of a no deal Brexit have exasperated a flailing farming community. But the climate crisis is at the forefront of issues for crop growers, with increasing years of weather extremes dominated by periods of wet and dry weather. Three major storms produced the wettest February on record, drenching already saturated fields. Farmers were forced to sow a reduced crop and quality is variable.
Throughout history outbreaks of Bubonic Plague had only the fleas carried by rats, traveling upon merchant ships to spread the disease. Now the whole world fits in the pocket of each and every one of us, enabling a pandemic to quickly take hold since the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China back in November 2019.
The public were asked to self-isolate only if they or their family had symptoms of the virus. Panic buying quickly gripped the nation. Mothers without formula to feed their babies. And scrupulous opportunists on the internet, making a quick buck from their hoard of daily essentials. The poor begging the wealthy to leave stock on the shelves. Amid the faceless selfishness were acts of kindness: an Indian takeaway leaving free food at the doors of the quarantined.
One by one countries close their international doorways. Confirmed cases and fatalities rise daily. Unessential businesses are forced to close and almost overnight the population are temporarily made redundant. The world is going into lockdown. Leaving home is only permitted for supplies of food, medicine, exercise and work. Now what better time to write a book, when society has locked its doors. My characters are coming together nicely and a plot is developing. The hardest part is no change of scenery to stroll through and organise my thoughts. Instead I am reading plenty, knitting, cleaning, cooking, baking and researching the internet.
None of us know when life will return to normal and what normal will have become. For now we should stay calm, keep busy and productively fulfil our dreams.