How to Stay Sane During Lockdown: "Friday Night In"
We are now in week 4 of lockdown and all going a bit stir crazy not being able to socialise properly with our friends and family. Maybe you want to celebrate a friend’s birthday or just need to see some friendly faces, who needs a reason right now! To make your life easier I have put together a plan for a Friday Night In, obviously this doesn’t have to be a Friday night (who knows what day it is now anyway) - you choose when!
We are going to start off the night by making cocktails together, to help you choose your cocktail I recommend having a look on Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube, an extensive list of cocktail recipes, a really helpful feature is being able to filter by spirits once you’ve had a dig around in the cupboard to see what you have! Don’t forget snacks, my choice would be Guacamole and Tortilla Chips but just get everyone to grab what they fancy!
Rhubarb is in season right now and I have lots in the garden so I will be making a Rhubarb Rhumba for my Night In. Check out this super easy recipe for making a Rhubarb Cordial, also delicious with some fizzy water added to make a refreshing non-alcoholic long drink.
300g caster sugar
500g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1 orange, grated zest and juice
Thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (optional)
Add the sugar to 300ml water in a saucepan and warm slowly over a medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the rhubarb, orange zest / juice, ginger and cardamom pods.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has broken down and the flavours have infused. Allow to cool, then strain through muslin (you can use a thin napkin or tea towel if you don’t have muslin) over a metal sieve.
Store the cordial in an airtight jar and keep in the fridge. Once it is opened, use it within a week.
Top Tip: Remove the cardamom pods and ginger from the leftover rhubarb then store the rhubarb in the fridge for breakfast, super yummy with yoghurt and granola!
It’s a good idea to sterilise the glass jar or bottle you are going to use (you can use any old glass jam jar or bottle with a lid). Wash it thoroughly with warm water / washing up liquid then rinse. To sterilise put the glass jar / bottle on a baking sheet in the oven at 140 C / Gas Mark 1 for 15 - 20 minutes, then allow to cool.
Arrange your Zoom Meeting
Agree a time and send out a Zoom notification to your group of friends, ask everyone to get all their cocktail ingredients set up in advance and don’t forget your snacks! I would suggest ideally to keep your number of guests below 8 as it makes your online chat easier to manage. If you don’t have Zoom Pro you will only be given 40 minutes meeting time. As I write this you are still able to all leave the meeting at the end of 40 mins and set up another meeting to keep the party going, alternatively you can pay a monthly fee and have no time limit which may be worthwhile if you will be using Zoom regularly?
If you are celebrating a friends birthday arrange all the other guests to be online 5 minutes before so you are all ready to sing Happy Birthday as the birthday guest comes online!
Have fun making your cocktails, make sure you have enough ingredients for a refill or two!
There are various online games you can play together, one I have found works really well is Skribbl IO (similar to Pictionary), a free multiplayer drawing game. First click on "Create A Private Room” then copy the link and send to friends, they are then able to join and give themselves a team name. You will be told when it is your turn to play and will be given 3 choices of objects to draw, be quick to choose or it will decide for you! Drawing with a mouse is challenging but makes the game funnier! As you begin drawing the other teams will type their guesses into the chat, if correct they will be awarded points depending on how quickly they have guessed - be quick the clock is ticking! Each game consists of a few rounds, the team with the most points at the end of the game will be crowned the winner. Piece of advice; split your computer screen so you can view Zoom and Skribbl IO simultaneously.
If you don’t fancy playing games why not watch a film together, with Netflix Party you can watch the same film at the same time. Really simple to set up all you need is Google Chrome, share the viewing link with your friends and off you go. You even have a chatroom that pops up on the right of the screen where everyone can make comments throughout the film, almost the like being in the same room (although if like me you don’t like people talking through films this could be annoying)! There is also an option to pause the film for everyone so you can top up the popcorn or grab another drink! You can only use Netflix Party on your laptop / computer and everyone you invite needs to have a Netflix account (currently offering a 30 day free trial for any friends who don’t have it).