Cotswold Mother: Stocking up for winter

PUBLISHED: 17:02 04 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:38 20 February 2013

Cotswold Mother: Stocking up for winter

Cotswold Mother: Stocking up for winter

Our new columnist Emily Carlisle ponders the great freeze... How will the family eat once the shelves of the Co-op have been cleared of larder essentials?

Im a big devotee of online grocery shopping. Any activity I can do in my pyjamas whilst watching Eastenders gets my vote, and sadly there are far fewer of those now that my husband has banned the television from our bedroom. Unfortunately sometimes the cupboards are so bare I cant wait for the delivery van, unless I want to explain to Social Services why the children are living off cat biscuits and butter, both of which we always seem to have in abundance.

Reluctantly I visited my local supermarket on Saturday to stock up on essentials, only to be greeted by post-apocalyptic shelves and a dozen half-crazed women fighting over bottled water. Snow was clearly heading our way again. The supermarkets are always mobbed as soon as the forecast gets bad, its terribly predictable. In fact I suspect I could do without a weather report altogether, forming an accurate assessment instead on the basis of the Co-ops bread aisle. On this occasion I decided against fighting over the last baguette (I got there first, but my opponent had a gimlet stare and a steely grip that could crack walnuts). I headed home with my dignity intact and my shopping bags decidedly empty.

Back at home I wondered how wed fare if bad weather did actually set in, and we had to make do for a week or so. Or perhaps longer maybe that woman with the trolley-load of beans had insider information? I should have watched to see what else she stock-piled. We are regularly snowed into our part of town each January, yet I am just as regularly woefully underprepared. Last year the children had no waterproof trousers; with eight inch deep snow and legs only a little longer, we were housebound for a fortnight, relying on helpful deliveries from those more mobile. This year the children are properly equipped for a Cotswold ski fest, and all that is left is to plan our provisions.

I pulled open the larder door and perused its contents. The larder is voluminous and rammed to the gunnels, and at first glance you might think it appears well-stocked, but on closer inspection it doesnt actually seem to hold anything useful. Why do I have so much treacle? Im not even sure I know what to do with treacle. And three tubs of bicarbonate of soda?

I counted seven packets of jelly and four of Angel Delight, two empty cereal packets and a mouse trap. It would seem our larder doesnt hold anything we can actually eat. My Living the Good Life book suggested we might store root vegetables harvested at the end of the summer to carry us through the winter. Delicious though they were, it didnt seem worth packing our 12 carrots into sandboxes, and they were eaten in
a week.

I shared my concerns with my husband who seemed relatively indifferent about the matter. Wed just eat one of the chickens. I was outraged how could he be so callous? The chickens have been with us for over six months. Theyve dutifully provided us with breakfast, lashings of superb manure and an immeasurable amount of feel-good factor. They are surely as much a part of the family as the children themselves, and considerably less effort.

Which one would you eat? I asked, curious in spite of myself. We surveyed the chooks as they roamed around the frozen garden. Mrs Greedy doesnt have a scrap of meat on her, but Princess Layer is positively ripe for the roasting tin. Great chunky thighs and a large plump breast nestle beneath golden feathers. She caught us salivating and retreated behind the compost heap as if she could read minds.

So could you actually you know? I checked that the chickens werent looking and mimed a sort of poultry-throttling motion.
Of course I could. My husband appears to have re-invented himself as Ray Mears. Any day now Ill find him crouched down in the sitting room whittling a make-shift weapon. If we were starving.
So if we got snowed in today, I said, with just the food weve got in our cupboards how long before youd kill a chicken for me? I was keen to establish just how hungry Id need to be before my hunter-gatherer spouse sharpened his axe. Just a bit peckish? Or positively weak with exhaustion, fingers barely able to pluck
out the feathers before slathering Princess Layer with butter and poking an onion up her bottom?

If the children were hungry, he said nobly, I would find them food. He looked around the garden as though bursting from the undergrowth were armfuls of edible flora and fauna, instead of a dozen tennis balls and a rusty bucket.

I hope the children like treacle.

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