Category Archives: food

Friday, Day 23, no Saturday

Of all the lovely things, a recent WordPress update! There are grand new features that offer no obvious benefit but complicate what was once simple and, in the case of yesterday’s post, make six paragraphs disappear. Poof! Don’t you love updates?

The string of grey wet cold days is getting to me. I felt like crying for most of the afternoon. In another week, I might not recognize myself.

But I have fresh produce! Did this grab bag thing down near the Fenway. I emailed on Wednesday. Pick up on Friday. A beautiful selection, especially of greens: Romaine and red leaf lettuce, a HUGE bag of spinach, rabe, asparagus, corn, potatoes and more (but no onions!)

Too bad the pick up process was so careless. I hoped for curbside pick up: we’d pop the trunk, they’d put in the box, we’d slide money out a barely cracked window and off we’d go with barely an interaction.

Instead, when I went into the tiny cafe, I found it a little like business as usual. One customer chatting away with counter-person, two waiting off a little further. No clear process for pick up. No acknowledgment of me, either, and I’m sorry, I worked in the service industry for a lot of years and it doesn’t take much to nod in the direction of a waiting customer. And now? When we’re reinventing social customs to accommodate a pandemic? Nothing? You’d think it was a Tuesday in 2019 or that making lattes was nuclear fission.

Later, I notarized a document for a friend. We performed an elaborate series of steps to avoid contact. The contrast! And, it seemed sensible to deem a photo of her husband about to sign the document good enough in the age of coronavirus!

Food, news, and a rant

Snowflakes wander to the ground this morning and put us in mind of another April Fools Day, when two feet of snow fell. We couldn’t open the front door. It seemed a grand joke from Nature.

Who feels like joking now?

What will people discover isn’t so necessary when this is all over? D’s biology class resumes this week, but online. No lab. Surely hands-on science won’t fall by the wayside, but maybe all those corporate, in-person meetings?

The snow must be over, for the skylight is a blue rectangle.

Problem: a very bland fish chowder. I’m considering a remoulade to add flavor. NOTE: Jars of roasted red peppers make fabulous quarantine food, especially when fresh vegetables run low.

My next grocery delivery isn’t for another ten days and I’m almost out of onions and celery! Lettuce for two salads left, maybe. I must wage my war of emptying-the-fridge and relying-on-the-pantry in silence, otherwise K might take it upon himself to grocery shop.

I really don’t want him to go to the grocery store. I know people are making different decisions about this, but avoiding the store is a way to avoid worry.

Put another two ways: I really want my husband to live; I really don’t feel like dying.

Leave it to my friend DT to get to the heart of any matter, even if harsh truths are involved. ESPECIALLY if harsh truths are involved.

“What’s so bad about dying,” she asks in a recent phone call. “Why are we so afraid of it?” After a pause, in which perhaps she thinks about the recent arrival of another granddaughter, DT adds, “But, I have so many reasons to want to live.”

Another friend’s brother is on a ventilator. In Florida (no comment — rant comes later). She’s remarkably sanguine about it. She’s married to a doctor, which makes me wonder if the medical perspective is generally less hyped-up with avoidance strategies. My brother’s going grocery shopping, that’s for sure. His partner is being exposed in a Los Angeles ER and coming home. What’s grocery shopping compared with that?

My roasted pepper remoulade will feature garlic, salt, and olive oil. Can you picture the pretty red swirl in the creamy soup? Plus a sprinkling of chives from the pot out by the garage.

A plane passes. Earlier, an ambulance. Hong Kong’s numbers rise again. Talk of asymptomatic carriers who never get sick. K quips, “I’ll bet China doesn’t want to call Hong Kong theirs NOW.”

We see clip after clip of ER doctors describing war zones, their eyes wide with sadness. We see field hospitals being erected in Central Park and in various arena around the country. And still, the Partisan Dicks of some Red States stand their ground in a vicious display of macho-trumpism (oh, sorry. Is macho-trumpism redundant?) How can their decisions be allowed to govern when their toxic allegiance will literally kill people?

It’s no metaphor when Nancy Pelosi says trump has blood on his hands. The Boston Globe says it, too. Blood AND sputum.

Among other things, trump demands that we re-invent language, for surely “callous disregard for human life” and “lack of empathy” don’t quite capture his epic willingness to let people die.

We are still running the heat. I look forward to a short-sleeves day.

I’ll keep you posted on how the food challenge goes, as the vegetable bins empty and the onion bowl reveals only a littering of rust-colored, papery skins. The challenge appeals to me — something about my farming ancestors? A potato-blighted, starving past, perhaps. But seriously, this is a fight I’m equipped to fight. For so many, I lack all skill, all stamina.

A friend once said to me, “In a barter economy, you’d be a queen.”

It was a compliment, I know, but at the time also stood as an indictment about how I just couldn’t manage to make money or survive in the corridors of business.

Pantry entree: shrimp curry

Frozen shrimp and frozen peas.

Root veggies: potatoes, carrots, and onions

1 jar of your favorite prepared curry sauce

Dash of cumin

1/2 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 c chicken stock

1 c lo-fat unsweetened coconut milk

Handful chopped fresh cilantro (only fresh item)

** You’ll need a 12-inch sauté pan.

Sautée onions and carrots. Sprinkle with cumin, cook one minute.

Add stock, tomatoes, diced potatoes, and curry sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are cooked, about 20 minutes.

Add frozen peas. Simmer a few minutes.

Throw shrimp in. If precooked, they will barely need any time at all. If they’re not precooked, more like six minutes.

Off heat, stir in coconut milk and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve over rice. Yum!

Pantry salad

Pantry Salad — serves 6

3 T sesame seeds

One chopped spring onion (or 2 scallions)

1/2 c pine nuts

1/4 c chopped parsley

Can of cannellini beans

1 chopped roasted red pepper

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob

1 c purple rice, cooked on toothsome side

Vinaigrette with extra garlic and salt

This salad is prettier before the addition of the rice. If you want those bright colors, either skip the rice or use brown or white instead.

I subbed rice for the kasha which I thought were buckwheat groats (oops). Technically, an ear of corn is not a pantry item and not even in season, but I had some because of a planned dinner party tonight. You could make it without the corn.

Other good additions: chopped hearts of palm; chopped Spanish olives; diced red onion.

Those of you who know how negative my self-talk tends to be might not recognize me after I produce a perfect omelet. Or a really tasty salad. After taking the first bite of this one, I said, “Oh my god! Who am I?”

Meanwhile, turns out that cancelling dinner guests for tonight was the right thing to do. I’ll still make sweet polenta with mushroom ragout. It’ll last for days!

Earlier, I took to cleaning up the perennial beds. Raking as a minor act of salvation.

My new life hack, discovered by accident (aren’t they all?): using a plunger to open a leaf bag, then using plunger to keep bag open while filling, and finally, using it to tamp leaves down as I go.

I used to put the bag over my head and punch it open from the inside, like a crazy person. Needless to say, at five feet tall, swinging a leg into the bag for stomping mid-rake session wasn’t accomplished with any grace either. So I’m loving this!

I also spent some time hacking and heaving and pulling at the maple roots that were left behind after a shitty stump removal. That little pile of roots depicted above? Took forty minutes.

Since my comments don’t take over at Joanne’s blog, let me shout out here: Wolf Hall is one of my favorite books ever. Be a good choice for a re-read. I just can’t believe how skillfully Mantel crafted her historic narrative. Also: she has a new novel out.

One more shout out: Happy birthday to my mother-in-law!! (She’s the only family member who reads my blog regularly.) Stay healthy. Stay strong. If you were here, I’d pull out some of the salad before adding the garlic — just for you.

Pantry Soup

“Pantry Soup” sounds better than “Pandemic Soup,” don’t you think? This cabbage bean combo fits the emergency-preparedness bill because most of the ingredients can be found in the well-stocked larder. Also, it relies on root vegetables which can sit on the counter for weeks.

Pantry Soup / Serves 2

1/2 onion, diced

small wedge of cabbage cut into ribbons

couple of potatoes diced

14 oz can of diced tomatoes, w/liquid

14 oz can of beans (I used cannellini)

2 T of powdered chicken broth / 4 c water

2 T of miso*

2 disks of jalapeños

Sauté onion and cabbage. Throw everything else in except the miso, save that for the end. Bring to low boil and cook until potatoes are done, about 20 minutes. Remove a little broth into a bowl and soften the miso in it and then dump back in.

Salt and pepper.

Serve.

Hearty and satisfying. I don’t know about you, but I almost always have onion, potatoes, and cabbage in the house. Cans of tomatoes and beans and miso are staples, always to hand. If it had been a week that I’d been out and about, I would have finished with a pretty handful of chopped parsley.

I know I’m near heathy because I found myself at the grocery store before 7. Not quite a dawn run but close. The 22 degree air braced and refreshed.

Sign of the times: no Purell; no disinfectant wipes; dried beans very picked over.

I did manage to get some bleach and Lysol spray, plus TP and paper towels even though we have some. Also: a big jar of Tylenol.

These poor lonesome Yukon Golds looked like they were waiting for something — maybe to have their picture taken?

I felt a little strange stocking up so heartily when I already have a pantry that could feed us for weeks, but then I realized that my exuberant shop had more to do with being confined to the house most of the week than with fears about pandemics.

Also: can you say The Great British Baking Show? It was my greatest balm this week and I am gonna bake bread even though I’ve only done so twice in my life and technically I don’t eat gluten.

Thank you for all you insightful and kind comments yesterday. I haven’t quite finished responding there, but wanted Michelle to know that even though I did read Twitter upon waking (instead of smiling and gently stretching), the podcast I chose for my errand this morning was Ezra Klein interviewing former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith and NOT my usual political fare.

* thanks to my chef friend, Elizabeth Germain, for the miso master stroke. I happened to be talking to her on the phone while tasting the soup. It was a little bland. She said blonde miso would’ve blended in better but I only had dark and it was yummy.

PS if you double the recipe to serve 4, don’t double the miso.

Not traditional

We had a semi-typical TG meal last week when C was here: stuffed Cornish game hens, homemade cranberry sauce, wilted cucumbers and roasted butternut squash.

Tonight, we celebrate a different kind of moment. “The Irishman” is on. The fire warm. And dinner, based on a meal enjoyed at Vesta in Denver, is delicious!

Braised lamb shanks and root vegetables served on Parmesan / rosemary grits with garlic baby bok choy and more of that homemade cranberry sauce.

Chocolate biscotti for dessert.

Grateful.

Happy thanksgiving to all!

Pasta, piecing, and puzzling

Rabe, red onion, and peppers sautéed in bacon fat and garlic-infused olive oil served on gluten-free pasta with Asagio cheese. Not shown: a few crumbles of bacon to finish. Soooo delicious!

Meanwhile, piecing and puzzling. Both a little mindless. Reviewed a short story to submit around. It would be ideal to have SOMETHING published before manuscript is looked at. I took yesterday off from it completely and today: avoid, avoid, avoid. This happens. It’s one reason why I’m pretty convinced it’s better to work every day, even if only a little.

When I couldn’t sleep last night, I came downstairs and read. This is Mark Helprin’s newest book and given that he is one of my favorite novelists of all time, I’ve been surprised at how slow my engagement’s been. But now I’m in! It’s set in modern day Paris, no surprise, given the title.