Pandemic Pondering#317

The first lockdown baking session since non- Christmas took place yesterday. Orange and Almond Cake , as above, and Onion Bhajis. Both cooked because they appeared in articles I was reading and because they sounded impossibly easy to make. In my reading/baking experiment they proved to be as easy as the narrator/author suggested. They were only easy because we are nearly a year into Pandemic Lockdowns. In a pre- pandemic life they would still have been easy but a trip to a supermarket would , almost certainly, have been needed. @theoldmortuary we have become much more confident cooks, driven by dietary and lifestyle changes that were needed when a health problem revealed itself early in Lockdown 1.

Now we have a multi cultural larder cupboard that facilitated yesterdays cook with the aid of the internet.

Onion Bhajis , always a thing of great expectation and sometimes soggy dissapointment. No dissapointment at our house yesterday. In the book excerpt I was reading , set in East London, an unexpected visitor was welcomed with hugs, a cup of tea and freshly cooked bhajis!

Hugs!!! How retro is that.

So good was this experiment of bhaji making there were none left for a photo shoot.

Not so the Orange and Almond Cake created because a food critic said eating it reminded him of his dear mum.

It seemed implausible because it contained four whole oranges.

Whole Orange Cake – rind and all!

Follow the link above to find the recipe I used.

The cake was fabulous. Thank goodness there are the lifestyle changes that were needed to go along with the dietary ones in Lockdown I. Increased exercise for good health and immune system boosting helps to burn off the calories created by the baking experiments.

Yesterday was a ‘ bobbing’ day. Cold water swimming is very good for boosting the immune system. With cake and coffee packed we set off for Firestone Bay. Seas around Plymouth had been rough and messy earlier in the day but all that was left when we arrived were some curious currents and water that wouldn’t have looked out of place in our post-baking washing up bowl.

The cake was consumed post ‘ bob’ with hot coffee on the way home. Once home we checked a local swimming site on Facebook to see how other swimmers had fared during the day. To our surprise ‘bobbers’ were featured in a photograph.

© Plymouth Open Water Swimmers

Featuring the post swim rush towards cake!

The link above is to Plymouth Open Water Swimmers. A fabulous Facebook page that we always refer to before and after a ‘bob’ just in case there is anything that we need to know about swimming locally.

Pandemic Ponderings #45

Sunday takes a similar shape to any other day in the pandemic lock-down but there are accessories to the day which make it different. Sunday permits laziness in the hours that would normally be spent with family and friends. The dogs get walked , books and newspapers get read. There is always cake. Cake in a Pandemic is a serious business, there is nothing flimsy about our pandemic cakes. They are always home- made and are described as having ‘heft’.Everything about our cake choices is hefty. The flavours are strong, Guinness, Cocoa, Strong Coffee and the textures are extreme. Super moist brownie, deep black dense texture or richly golden crumble.

We seem to be adopting bold colours and bold flavours during this lockdown. I wonder if it’s because the world seems brighter when we are allowed out so our indoor life has to get brighter and bolder too.

The tulips in the house are feeling pretty bold too. Or are they hefty?

The Hutong Cafe, Plymouth.

My dogs are urban dogs, they like a circular walk on tarmac with plenty of green space to run around on and a dog friendly cafe for a bit of a nap. I’ve been trying to recreate that for them in Plymouth. Today I struck gold for all of us.

We parked at Devils Point and had half an hour of fabulous sniffs and running about before descending the steps into the Royal William Yard to call in at Ocean Studios before taking the road back to Devils Point.

The Hutong Cafe just outside the grand gates of the Royal William Yard used to be a pub. Now it’s a stylish cafe serving great coffee.IMG_9451I’m not the main coffee addict at but I do know a good cup of coffee when the bubbles on the crema reflect beautiful oily-looking copper colours on the  top of a simple black coffee. So there we go, top marks for the look of a black coffee, top marks for flavour. My piece of cake was great too , but as usual I’m really more about the style of the place.

Hutong has great style. Easy on the eye, industrial retro , done impeccably, which is not always  as simple as it looks.IMG_9452

Style is also about the ambience  of the place and Hutong gets it right. Dogs are welcome either outside or inside, nearer to the front of the cafe.IMG_9459George, one of the owners, was welcoming when we arrived and he and Owen the barista  were involved in conversations with everyone in the cafe at some point during my visit. Later I met Jack , George’s brother and co-owner, who is equally engaging. George and Jack have great plans for the future of this cafe and they were a pleasure to natter to. Chris the chef made a brief appearance to smile , completing what seems to be a winning team. A cafe this good is a great addition to the area and a fabulous place to take the most dedicated of coffee lovers.IMG_9457