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Life under lockdown: I reckon we all need more comfort food right now

Hey blog friends, how has lockdown been treating you? It may be anecdotal, but it seems like among me and a few of my friends, we've all hit a wall recently. I've been keeping indoors as much as possible, going out to pick up shopping once and a week and walking around my local parks for exercise. I've been keeping in contact with friends and family, and keeping studying and working. However you look at it, lockdown hasn't been a struggle for me. That said, I still feel like I've been struggling -- every day seems to blend into one, I've been missing the normal variety of the ebb and flow of life, the chance to see friends and family in person, and going outside a two mile radius from my house.

Prettty much the only lever I can pull to put a bit of variety into my days, and to cheer myself up. It's the sort of time that calls for comfort food.

Comfort food for me is, and always has been, cake! There's few things that make me feel there's a chink of sunshine in a grey skin as much as a cup of tea with a slice of cake. Like everyone on Twitter at the moment, it seems like, I decided I needed to make some banana bread. I made it on a beautifully sunny day, and lit it up like a painting:

Banana bread is one of those great simple recpes for using up those bananas that have gone black, and it's a really good starter recipe for anyone learning how to make vegan bakes, especially because it doesn't need any fancy ingredients and it takes all of ten minutes to make the cake batter.

But cake can only take you so far, sometimes you need to make a proper meal. For some reason I can't explain, I had a deep need to make Swedish meatballs. Not that there's anything wrong with Swedish meatballs, of course, but I couldn't tell you why I wanted them so much -- I'd never tried them before, either the meaty version from my pregan days or in plant-based form.

I scoured a few recipes for vegan Swedish meatballs and knocked up this plateful:

Swedish vegans and Swedish vegan meatball afficionados, how did I do? I don't know if I'd pick up any points for authenticity, but it tasted pretty decent. The mash is potato and parsnip, there's some kale for greenery, and I had to sub the traditional ligonberry jam for a bit of beetroot chutney. (I wasn't sure on what's the proper sauce for Swedish meatballs, so it's a mix of onions, mushrooms, cream and white wine. It was *chef's kiss* (side note: why is there no chef's kiss emoji?!)

The other thing that I'm kind of proud of cooking at the moment is polenta chips. POLENTA CHIPS! I've only ever eaten polenta chips when someone else made them for me (I have a vague memory of eating them at a vegan fest somewhere?) but given I'm not going anywhere near a restaurant or a cafe any time soon, I thought I should learn to make it at home. 

I tried about three times before I manage to turn polenta into fries, because each time the batter was too wet to bake. If you're thinking of giving it a go yourself, here's my pro tip: make the polenta thick enough so that when you're beating it, it's coming away from the side of the saucepan. That way, when it cools, it'll separate nicely into thick chips that can be baked. 

Another tip: if you've got any wild garlic knocking around, throw that in too. And last tip -- serve these with everything.

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  1. I am wondering how I was ever organised before lockdown - but I did make a great lasagna for the week. I am curious what you put in the "meatballs" - they look like great comfort food. And I need to use some out of date polenta. I now need some polenta chips and banana bread!

  2. I'm with you on the lockdown fatigue! Think it's hitting everyone now. This looks like great comfort food--and perfect time for it! :)

  3. The meatballs look good smothered in the sauce. I too like Johanna was wondering what you put in the 'meatball' as i am hankering for something with texture, I haven't had mock meat in a while, guess i better dig out that vital wheat gluten flour. Would you believe it i blogged about polenta chips in 2010, as for banana bread - yours looks wonderfully golden. There have been lots of bakes in my home - one every week - but banana bread is one bake i have not made this time.


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