2020, Winter 2

Today the sun had some real warmth to it. Of course, once it ducked behind the clouds it was back to breezy February, but it felt good to open some doors and windows today, after weeks of trudging back from the shops in the rain.

And the wet weather continues, and is due to continue for at least another fortnight. The wind is so loud that the roaring can wake you up at night.

But today was good, and brought with it a real sense of calm between the storms and the housework. Less housework this weekend, fortunately, giving me an opportunity to get stuck into other projects.

I slowly trying to figure out a cost effective and time effective solution to lunches and meals when it's just me in the house by myself. Today, I cooked up a batch of flat breads that I'll use as a kind of soft tacos for some beans and rice filling, or some raw salsa. I'm also hoping to make some humus, which (given the right preparation) takes no time at all. Should be a step up from eating tuna-mayo every day.

I've been looking forward to brewing up some kombucha for some time, and this weekend was finally a good point to start. Unfortunately, unlike sourdough, you can't summon the right yeasts and bacteria from the ether. Kombucha requires what's called a SCOBY, a sort of primordial soup with a fleshy disk that sits on top keeping it all in.

Who knows where the first SCOBY came from, but mine is currently stewing. We have a trendy health food shop about a 15 minute walk away, which I hedged my bets as stocking some kombucha. It did, although it cost me the better part of a tenner. Worth it, in theory, if all goes to plan in the long run.

All kombucha contains traces of the SCOBY it was spawned from, so, much like sourdough, it was just a case of pouring some into a glass jar, along with it's feed to keep it going. SCOBY feeds on sweetened black tea.

The only potential caveat was that I had never tasted kombucha before, so I was eager to try it so I knew what I was getting into. It was good news – I enjoyed it a lot! The stuff I bought was unflavoured and unprocessed, and I could tell it's something you ideally want to use as a base for louder flavours. By itself the most obvious flavour is vinegar, but it's not unpleasant by any means. It's a kind of refreshing tangy taste. I supposed closest to a kind of dry cider.

And, if all goes to plan, I should have a potent enough SCOBY within the next 2-4 weeks. Apparently all I do is let it sit out, and it does its thing. Also, apparently, it's very hard to get wrong, which fills me with some confidence. I should start seeing some action in the next few days.

Speaking of action, my sourdough starter lept into life last week, seemingly out of nowhere. One night it was looking like yet another blob of watery flour, and the next night it was blooming and bubbly and active. Amazing what you can get from just a little bit of time.

One of the appeals of starting sourdough yourself is that it will develop it's own unique flavour according to all the variables in your environment. In my last flat, my starter was very mellow and had a kind of spicy, malty aroma. This starter is a world away, smelling much richer, almost like slightly over-ripened banana (which, I checked, isn't uncommon).

Alas, our oven is still out of action. Our repair guy had never seen the configuration on our particular oven before, and wasn't able to get the part from any of his suppliers – he called back sounding entirely stumped. Since then, the oven has been acting up even more unpredictably, and it's looking like we're going to have to bite the bullet and install a new one.

Seems the dud oven is just about one of the cheapest you can get on the market – so I suppose the last owners didn't have it as a priority. Seeing as we use our oven just shy of daily, it only makes sense to get something solid and worthwhile. That's something to look forward to at least.

The office floor is finally finished, and looking sharp. Last weekend we moved the desk back in and returned to our usual set up. It's been a joy to finally be working in a proper space again, and I'm beginning to feel the benefits of having a room dedicated to work. While in our old flat we had one shared room for the kitchen, living room and office, it's great to be able to put everything away for the evening or the weekend, and forget about it. I can be in the living room or kitchen and clear my head.

It's good to come back to work feeling fresh and prepared.


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