This weekend I received not one, but two, unexpected gifts, and made some really spectacular brownies - although I don't think brownie is a sufficient description for the sheer glory and decadence of this particular bake.
Unexpected gifts of all sorts have been something of a feature of this year, and it seems like a good time to acknowledge that. It's no secret that I've not always found lock down easy, Leicester still has restrictions (now we're officially in tier 2 things have relaxed a bit), and there have been tough times. I know that I've observed the restrictions with reasonable diligence - being in Shetland was an eye opener. Family were frustrated by the tightening of rules that represented a degree of freedom from what I'd been used too. But it's also been a shock being out of Leicester and seeing how much has closed for good, or remained closed up due to covid.
Sat in my bubble it was easy to imagine the rest of the country was more normal than we were, an impression bolstered by a lot of social media which showed people out and about doing things. Actually being out and about tells me otherwise. The world has changed - but maybe that's okay, though it's making it frustratingly difficult to get hold of my preferred advent calendar. One irony attached to the current situation is that after months spent indoors because of restrictions, I now spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about leaving my flat because of expected deliveries. Not being able to buy things on the high street (more necessary things than advent calendars) is not something I see as a change for the better.
On the whole though I'm lucky. Despite the downs and frustrations I've not yet had to worry about how to put food on the table, I'm not easily bored, have appreciated the time to knit, cook, read, and just be, and am not dreading the winter. Being inside right now feels like a privilege, or at least it does when it's raining, dark, cold, or otherwise unappealing. Living on your own does at least mean there's no one in the house to annoy you (I'd still rather have company, but it's not all bad). I'm also more than lucky in my friends and family.
I've got people I can call, I've been sent packages containing tea, biscuits, jewelry (from a silver smithing friend), books, vermouth, and knitting patterns. It's a degree of kindness and generosity that I'm totally bowled over by. They're the same attributes that spill online in various groups, podcasts, hashtags and more that encourage conversation and provide real highlights to my week. It's not all bad by a long way.
On which note - Diana Henry has been posting a daily recipe on Instagram since March. There have been some crackers, but Fridays was particularly decadent. Blackberry and Rosemary Brownies sounded very promising. I made them yesterday - they do not disappoint, and are very much at the luxury end of the brownie scale. There's a lot of chocolate, sugar, and a bit of booze in these, and although I'm happily eating one with a cup of coffee right now I think they deserve a bit more of an occasion. Link to recipe here.
They'd make a fabulous grown up birthday cake - even more because they're better baked the day before you want them, and possibly in a round tin for more of an evening mood (am I alone in thinking a wedge seems more celebratory than a square?). Anyway, they're really good, and now I need to go for a brisk walk even if it does mean I risk missing a half expected delivery of review books...