2020, Spring 1

Flour. There isn't any flour.

Well, alright, I'll concede that this isn't strictly true. There was one time I was able to pick up a few of the small bags from the supermarket (which, of course are the same price as the big bags which were absent). Our local greengrocers and bakery sell flour, but at £1.50 a kilo it's not the kind of stuff you want to be dredging onto your work-surface.

I froze my sourdough starter yesterday. There was a brief moment where I could be smug while dried yeast was out of stock everywhere – I had my own yeast growing in the fridge. But now I'm flourless and yeastless — I haven't seen the specific flour my start feeds on in shelves for over a month.

It was remarkable just how quickly the nation recovered from its loo roll shortage. Seems like loo roll is one of the few things reliably stocked during my weekly trips. Eggs, rice and pasta are hit and miss. But flour – there's never any flour.

We were able to make a few bagels with the starter before putting it into hibernation. They were a big success, despite the holes disappearing from the bake, making them more bun than bagel. I hope the starter survives the freeze, it's been my best yet – bubbly and active and thriving whenever I check in on it.

I recall, perhaps as the news of people panic buying began to trickle in, thinking 'while everyone else grabs for pasta and bread, I'll be one step ahead making my own'. At least I've been humbly reminded I'm not as sharp as I like to think, and everyone else had the same idea.

My very legitimate research of Googling 'la farina' into Italian Google News lead me to one article about the doubling of flour production in Italy. But comparing that to an entire page of news articles from the English equivalent, either suggests this is a bigger problem here, or we like to make more of a bigger deal about it. It's probably a combination of the two.

I like to imagine that in times of peril the British instinctively reach out for flour to bake cake. And it doesn't seem entirely baseless, almost everyone in my circles seems to be baking something. That's no bad thing.

Tomato seeds weren't easy to get a hold of either – yet another humbling hurdle. I'd been excited to begin growing tomatoes ever since we moved into our new place with a garden. Delivery took a couple weeks, which isn't so speedy for something that probably weighs less than a post card.

Fortunately we'd bought a big sack of soil before the outbreak, so it was just a case of cutting open some holes, and watering the seeds in. I'm hoping its not too late. There's been no sign of life just yet, but I'll be watching anxiously.

What has yielded some success is my kombucha. Having started with just some shop-bought booch in a jar, I've upgraded to a new five litre vessel and starting to see some real action. The Scoby itself seems to be happily bubbling away, and now that we've got a jar with a dispensing tap, he shouldn't be getting too jostled by any siphoning shenanigans.

We've successfully done two brew cycles so far. The first we tried grapefruit and rosemary, and the second was apple and ginger. While they both tasted on-point, we've hardly had any carbonation so far, which is a shame because some bubbles would definitely take it to the next level. It's either because our Scoby is still young, or our the bottle we've been using isn't quite air-tight. We'll try a swing top jar next time.

The warmer weather has been welcome, it makes being cooped up much nicer when you can have the windows open and feel the sun coming in. Jogs and shops have been good for fresh air.

Today we did a workout organized by a friend of mine. It was deliberately brutal – twelve thirty second exercises without pause, done three times. There were an unreasonable amount of different types of push ups in those twelve exercises. I don't think any of us could feel our legs by the end of it. I reckon I'll opt for something more frequent and more easy-going to keep active.

I dread to think how my appendages are going to feel tomorrow.


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