Lockdown Day 8 (Wednesday)

Split pea soup – see RECIPE below.
Boiled eggs

Salad of cauliflower tomato and leftover peas, with salad dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and lots of mustard. (The cauliflower cut up small, blanched, drained and put hot into the dressing. Keep the water for another soup.)
Leftover soup from lunch
Leftover shepherds pie

Again, this can barely be called a ‘recipe’ but I’m aiming to share some of my best tricks for producing a meal as quickly as possible. Twitter and Radio 4 are full of people saying they now have endless hours to make sourdough and croissants from scratch (including the wonderful Fortunately podcast, so tactless of them). No nursery or childcare means I have SO LITTLE TIME to myself, and I know there are many other people in the same boat.
There are many recipes for proper chana dahl like Madhur Jaffrey’s, which will have a far more complex taste, but the aim here is put together a nice-enough soup in a couple of minutes, which can cook away gently all morning without any extra work.

Ingredients – 3 portions

Yellow split peas (or any kind of lentils) – 6 generously heaped tablespoons
1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cumin, black mustard seeds, or other spices you have
Stock, stock powder and/or any other flavourings you have like miso paste, soya sauce, tamarind, Marmite etc.
3 garlic cloves
a piece of ginger, approx 4 cm
Any leftover veg


Put the split peas into a large saucepan. Cover with water then add more, roughly three times as much water to split peas.
You can substitute some or all of the water with leftover wine, or stock, or leftover water from cooking vegetables.
Add garlic cloves (peeled and very roughly chopped), ginger (roughly chopped, don’t bother to peel), flavourings and any leftover veg. Experiment, this soup is entirely forgiving so you can chuck in pretty much anything. But be cautious, best to add a small spoon and then add more later. Add salt right at the end, to stop the spilt peas going tough.
Bring gently to the boil (some people skim off the frothy scum at this point if there is any, you will not be surprised to know that I don’t bother).
Leave to simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the split peas are soft to the bite. Keep an eye on it, you will need to stir it every so often, and add more water if it’s getting too thick. There needs to be enough liquid so the simmering action will cook the split peas.
I usually whizz the soup so it’s a smoother consistency which has the advantage of hiding any leftover veg.
You could add any green leaves like spinach or finely chopped cabbage or greens, any other veg, or frozen green peas at the last minute.
Taste for salt and add if necessary.

I went to the health food shop for stock powder (Marigold Boullion). Exciting to be out without the toddler even briefly. Empty streets. The shop has strict social distancing – only 4 people in at any one time, only 2 people at the counter. No plain flour but plenty of eggs.
I fell for a friend’s April fool saying that the space station was sending out plumes of rainbow smoke as a symbol of hope. I so wanted to believe it. The sky was completely clear and blue. No clouds at all. A glorious day. I think the newspapers mostly decided April Fools’ Day was cancelled this year.
One lonely plane went over, immediately commented on by our street’s (new) WhatsApp group. Gatwick Airport is closing as there are no planes.
Spoke to sister in France who says that the rumour there is that schools won’t go back til September. SEPTEMBER! And she thinks the lockdown will last for a long time. As we seem to be about a week or so behind them, are we facing this too? The government seems to be heading for chaos.
And had a Zoom with 3 friends, one can’t come back to the UK for her father’s funeral which will be live-streamed. Very sad and difficult for her. The new normal is pretty weird.

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