Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Joys for the 17th Week of the Year.

As I have posted now for 17 different weeks, I am keeping a list of things that bring me joy. In all honesty some weeks have may more joyful moments than other, and life in the time of Corona is limiting some of the things I used to do that brought pure joy. But each and every day still has some things that are joyful, even if you have to look back and reflect on the day to see that something even unpleasant at the time was truly a good thing.
I plan to sit by myself on New Year's Eve and look at my lists to see just how much joy a year can bring. Hoping you find your joy this week.

Wednesday: I had cleaned my Keurig by running vinegar water through it. After about 5 rinses I went to bed and woke Wednesday morning to a coffee maker that still smelled like vinegar. I wondered what I was going to do because I am not a decent human until I have had my coffee. Then I remembered a French press stuck in the butler's pantry. I found my very underutilized French press which makes 2 large cups of coffee. It is at least enough to get me through the early a.m. So now I am starting my mornings with the French press brew and using the Keurig for my coffee later in the morning..

Thursday: After going to Mom's for the early morning gap between her sitters, I decided I needed to go somewhere just to get out of the house.  Of course nothing is open so hitting a coffee shop was not an option. Instead I drove to Hardee's to grab a cup of coffee and a buttered biscuit. When I got to the window I found the woman in line ahead of me had  paid for my order, I would have paid for the person behind me but their order was for 12 bucks and I only had a 5 with me. Next time I go I will make sure to have enough cash to pay it forward.

Friday: DIL3''s new single was released. ("Last Love" by Helena Hallberg) We also went by Son2 and Dil 2"s house to pick up my food dehydrator . It turned into a safe distance outdoors visit. Afterward we went "out to eat' and stopped at Pita Cafe for some take out.

Saturday: Home Depot  curbside pick-up! No more words are needed for the joy this service brought me.

Sunday: Because we are now streaming our church service, we are watching in our pajamas with coffee in hand. Fortunately we had finished our new normal Sunday morning cinnamon roll breakfast (Aldi's tube cinnamon rolls) before the service started. I can sip coffee guilt free while watching it but I am not sure I could nosh on cinnamon rolls without feeling guilty.
After the service I had to get dressed for our zoom Sunday school class. I am fairly certain it is the only time during the week any of the females in our class wear makeup.  Later that afternoon I had a great visit with Mom and she was able to have a real conversation. Bonus joy!

Monday: I started the day with a safe distance coffee with My Beloved Sister. We sat at Mom's and had a few laughs. I have not seen her, even at a distance, in weeks.  Then I broke down and actually went to the grocery store, masked and in gloves.
With a kink in the supply chain I bought several things and spent the day mainly processing and freezing. While I was at ThePig I noticed them stocking the milk. A gallon of 2 percent milk was just a dollar. Even though we do not drink or normally keep milk I decided it was too good of a deal to pass up. I think some banana pudding might be happening one night this week.

Tuesday: This is going to be a very odd joy because there is really nothing joyous about it at all. Mom is having Sundowning issues along with her dementia. She becomes very combative and resists all efforts to help her. Including jumping up and yelling at the care givers to leave her alone, threatening them with bodily harm if they touch her, then jerking away form them when they try to keep her balanced. In the wee hours of the morning Tuesday the was having an episode and jerked away form her sitter. When she did she fell and broke her arm near her shoulder.
TheHub arranged for me to take her to his friends orthopedic practice, which was only open to emergency cases. While there she became unresponsive and paramedics were called. She was then taken to the ER where they also found a large blood clot in her lung. If she had not broken her upper arm we would have not taken her to the doc and would not have known about the clot. Like I said, it was a weird joy.

And that completes another week in 2020, the year of oddities!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Quarantine Eating__Again

Meal plan for the past week:
1. Black beans and rice, coleslaw, cornbread
2. Fettuccine with Alfredo sauce, green salad, asparagus
3. Smoked sausage, with cabbage and potatoes
4. Grilled brined chicken, brussels sprouts, sliced tomatoes, rice
5. Hamburger helper with peppers, zucchini and onions added, coleslaw, 
6. Loaded nachos and a side salad
7. Loaded baked potatoes, broccoli

What really happened:
Monday: I have been saving pickle juice for a while now with no real plans for using it, and decided it was time to get it out of the fridge. Although this sounds really weird, it was delicious.
Baked seasoned* chicken brined in dill pickle juice, leftover rice, asparagus, tomato slices

Tuesday: It was a day, it came and went with nothing out of the new norm.
Fettuccine Alfredo with mushrooms, broccoli, cucumber tomato and onion salad

Wednesday: Went to see Mom a couple of times during the day.  
Smoked sausage with cabbage, onions, potatoes and carrots. Noodle kugel

Thursday: We had already decided we were going to watch the NFL draft so we thought it would be fun to have a ball game meal. I did not want hotdogs so we settled on nachos
Nachos loaded with peppers, onions and tomatoes and pulled pork, pineapple dump cake

Friday: "Out to eat" takeout from The Pita Cafe, a small locally owned place. We are trying to order from some places that were operating just  day to day (pre-corona) so that maybe they can withstand the storm.
Racer pitas with tabbouleh 

Saturday: We rode around a bit then had a Home Depot pick-up. BTW if you opt to use the pickup window show the person who brings your order to your car a little love (A few George Washington's or more for a larger order) . They are working their tails off to help those of us who are trying to avoid crowds.
Store brand chili mac hamburger helper gussied up with leftover salsa, onions, sweet peppers, zucchini and cauliflower, and a side of coleslaw

Sunday: Oh my what a glorious day! The weather was near perfect!
Black beans with rice, cornbread, coleslaw...lots of coleslaw, strawberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

Ralston crackle cookies (Not the best cookies I have ever eaten, but not bad with a cup of coffee)
Noodle kugel  (really good)
Dump cake (Good use of 1/2 cake mix and frozen crushed pineapple)
Strawberry cobbler (Used the recipe with cream cheese that is floating around Facebook. Under impressed)

Produce bought for the week:
6 tomatoes,
4 cucumbers
4 bell peppers
1 large bag assorted mini peppers
5 zucchini
2 clamshells strawberries
1 bunch broccoli
2 heads cauliflower
1 lb. asparagus
1 bag spinach
1 bag coleslaw mix
3 romaine hearts
3 bulbs garlic
4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

Remaining groceries purchased were staples, cinnamon rolls (tube kind), snack foods (no we don't need them but I bought some anyway), bread and peanut butter. Plus TheHub stopped one day and got ice cream and bananas.

Used from the freezer:
1 large chicken breast
Ralston cereal
1 bag broccoli florets
2 jalapeños
1 container crushed pineapple
1 pack pork carnitas
1/2 pack smoked sausage
crappy individual pizza (lunch with a reminder to never buy these again)
1 pack ground beef
1/4 pound bacon

Produce used:
1/2 pound asparagus
4 tomatoes
14 mini sweet peppers
2 cucumbers
1 red onion
1 avocado
2  yellow onions
1/2 head cabbage
3 small potatoes
1 cup carrots
1 1/2 bag coleslaw mix
1 zucchini
1/3 head cauliflower
1 1/2 clamshell strawberries
2 tangerines

Used from the pantry:
brown sugar
seasonings, herbs, spices
4 teabags
shortening (I had no idea I even had any)
fettuccine noodles (lake rescue)
jar of Alfredo (lake rescue)
olive oil
wine vinegar
8 bread slices
coffee (lots of coffee)
green dragon sauce (4 tablespoons?)
salsa (1/4 jar maybe)
1/2 bag tortilla chips
1 jar queso (rescued from the lake)
1 box store brand hamburger helper (lake rescue)
1 box black beans and rice (lake rescue)
canned corn beef hash (TheHub likes this once in a blue moon for breakfast)

Dairy used:
6 eggs
grated parmesan
heavy cream
1/2 pack cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
5 ounces sharp cheddar (lunch sandwiches)
1 can cinnamon rolls (our new pre- streaming church service breakfast)

I am slowly using the foods rescued from the lake and incorporating more meatless meals into the menu. Since it seems that various processing plants are closing almost daily it is probably a good idea for everyone to think of some alternate meal  ideas. I remember reading a long time ago that the best way to control a population was to control its access to food. It is an idea worth pondering.

I am beginning the week with quite a bit of produce and should not need to buy anything, but there are a couple of intriguing deals through Tuesday. I am most interested in mushrooms at Aldi. I usually buy 6 cartons and them dehydrate them. Though I do have some, I would like to have some more in my stash. Publix has ribeye steaks on sale and I can go either way. If I get there and find them fine, and if not, that is fine too. The freezer is still pretty full and I have lots of options for meals, but I still want to have at least two dinners that are meatless each week.

Menu Possibilities for this week:
Leftover chili mac, tossed salad, green beans
Chicken pot pie, wilted spinach salad
Huge chopped salad, crescent rolls
Stuffed baked potato with all the fixings including chopped broccoli
Beans and franks, coleslaw, corn muffins
Grilled scallops, asparagus, baked potato, green salad
Leftover sausage, cabbage, onions and potatoes dish, cooked carrots, rolls

Except for ice cream, nothing was put into the freezer. Yea!

Have a great week doing whatever is allowed in your community, but practice safety and stay healthy.

*If you have access to Cavander's Greek Seasoning grab some. It is the most versatile seasoning blend I have ever used and I have it on hand 100 percent of the time. And now that I brought all foods home from the lake place, I have even more.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Quarantine Cooking Dessert Using Leftovers

The other night I made some fettuccine Alfredo and had a bunch of fettuccine left over. I also had about a third of an 8 ounce block of cream cheese and some almost questionable sour cream in the fridge. It only made sense to use them for something and what would be better than an almost kugel.
I had no cottage cheese so it was not going to be a true one, but who cared?

A kugel is a Jewish noodle dish that is traditionally served on the Sabbath or on the holidays. A real one has egg noodles, cottage cheese, sugar, sour cream, eggs and milk and often has raisins or grated apples. Mine was no where near traditional, especially since I was using cream cheese instead of the cottage variety, but all I was trying to do was create a dessert using stuff I had on hand  that needed to be used.

1 1/2- 2 cups noodles (I did not measure but it was close to this amount)

1/3 cup cream cheese (softened, in my world it means nuke it for about 15 seconds)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk  or half and half ( I used heavy cream cut with water because I had no milk 3/4 cream to 1/4 water)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches cardamom

First  grease a small baking pan. 6x6 is
I grabbed my kitchen shears and cut the fettuccine into lengths approximately the length of egg noodles and placed them in the bottom of the pan. Next prepare the custard.
Mix the softened cream cheese with the sour cream add the sugar and blend well. Stir in the eggs and mix together then add the milk or cream the extract and the spices. Whisk  until it is smooth, pour over the noodles and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Unlike a traditional kugel, I dd not have enough noodles for the custard to barely cover, so I had no tell-tale noodles on the surface of the dessert. I just had a smooth custard layer. It was fine with us, but might offend someone who makes this regularly. My aim was to create a delicious interpretation   rather than authentic dish.

And boy, was this ever good. I should have let it sit so it would firm up a little and I could have cut it into nice neat squares, but we ate it as soon as it came out of the oven and enjoyed every bit of its piping hot deliciousness.  Squares? No way! I spooned it into bowls so we really had blobs of deliciousness, but it was great. So good that TheHub had 2 1/2 bowls of it.

I am putting this in our dessert rotation, which is about to come almost to an end because next week I start back on the keto lifestyle. I seem to be an all or nothing type of gal and I will either eat sweets daily or have none at all. My jeans say I need to go back to being a no sugar or grains at all gal.

Anyway, if you want a cheap, tasty, easy dessert this might be for you. (Especially if you cook too much pasta)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Joy During Quarantine

As usual I am keeping a list of this week's joys. On New Year's Eve I plan to sit down and review each week to see that really joyous things happen each day, if I will just look for them. This is a list of things that brought joy during the 16th week of the year. Wow, time really does fly, doesn't it. 

Wednesday: The only thing I can remember that brought joy this day was watching Ozark and eating popcorn, and of course FaceTime with Pip. 

Thursday: While cleaning the upper cabinet shelves in the kitchen I found a tea pot that belonged to my grandmother. I had forgotten all about it and have used it every time I have brewed tea since then.

Friday: This is a very strange joy but it made me extremely happy. I was a little pissy upset because TheHub wanted to go to the lake place Friday in the early evening  and I did not want to.  It was not getting out and riding down there. I was ready to go at 3, but he worked late and I did not want to go then. We already knew we were not spending the night and it just seemed to be a dumb thing to  ride down there, check on things and then ride right back home. Lucky we went. We found a live baby squirrel in the bottom of the kitchen trash can.  We were able to take it out and let it go. If we had waited until Sunday like I wanted to do the poor little thing would have died.

Saturday: We went out to eat and dined al fresco. Ok in reality we were sitting in our car, in the parking lot of a beautiful privately owned garden that is open to the public. We sat, talked, people watched and ate sandwiches. 

Sunday: We woke, had an early breakfast and streamed our church services while sitting at the table drinking coffee. Afterward we had an online Sunday school meeting. It was very nice to see our friends even if it was just a virtual meeting. And as a bonus, we watched 2 episodes of Ozark.

Monday: Instacart delivery! Only 2 items were not found and toilet paper was not one of them, so I am calling it a huge success. There is a certain joy in being able to get groceries for both me and mom, limiting exposure for both of us. Also what a wonderful way for furloughed young adults (in the lowest risk for complications group) to make some money while waiting to see what the new normal will be.

Tuesday: I had the blahs all day but found a movie on demand that I thought might be good. Usually I put a movie on, turn the volume up loud and walk around the house doing things, but this one claimed my undivided attention.  I watched The Zookeeper's Wife. It was exactly what I needed to make me appreciate the luxury of having a blah day. If you get a chance to watch it.  It is currently running on HBO. 

Now go find the joy in your week!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


I have heard a lot of people talking about how limited or even totally unavailable flour is. This week I was rummaging through the freezer and found a package that I had not noticed before. At some point and time I bought Ralston whole wheat cereal. It is essentially the whole grain version of cream of wheat. Why I bought it is beyond me because I despise cream of wheat. I am a tactile eater and something about the "feel"of it in my mouth makes me cringe. So I have a bag of something I will never use as it is intended to be used, but there was no way I was going to just throw it out.
Saturday morning I was searching an alternate use for the stuff.  Just because it doesn't  tickle my fancy does not mean there isn't a way to use it.
When I googled it I could only find a couple of recipes specific to Ralston, so I went a different direction and tried to find alternate uses for cream of wheat.
Eureka! I found several things from cookies to muffins to savory dishes, none of which sounded good ( mainly quick enough) for breakfast, until I saw the recipe for pancakes. The cream of wheat replaces a decent amount of the flour, it had ingredients I had on hand, and I could be done from start to finish in under 15 minutes. Perfect for a Saturday mid morning breakfast. I am not a breakfast eater, but on the weekends I try to be nice and cook breakfast since TheHub loves it, and I never make it during the week.

Pancakes with a Twist

3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cream of wheat
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1 egg
1 cup milk*
1 tablespoon oil (I used melted ghee because I had it available)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the wet ingredients and let stand for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile heat a griddle or pan. Spray lightly with non stick spray. Cook until bubbles form then gently flip and cook until done (takes about 5 minutes total cooking time) Continue until all the batter is used. I got 8 pancakes from this recipe, or enough for 4 servings.
I served them with stevia sweetened blueberry syrup and they were surprisingly good. It really did stretch the flour because normally I would have used 1 1/4 cups of flour for 8 pancakes.

My guinea pig TheHub thought they were really good,  and this is something I will do again on a non-keto day. They did not rise quite as high as a traditional pancake, but that didn't stop us from enjoying them. They were very light tasting.

So if you are watching your flour usage or saving it whenever possible this was a very fast, easy way to stretch it.

Unfortunately we had already eaten the best ones when I remembered I had not taken a photo yet, so I had to choose between 2 wonky pancakes and 2 slightly overdone ones. I chose the ones that I cooked a little too long. Even so, they were still good. You will notice there is no butter melting or syrup dripping off of these. I had already stuck them on a cookie sheet to freeze and had to take a picture of almost frozen pancakes.

* We do not drink milk so I never have it on hand. I do keep cans of evaporated milk and mix it half and half with water. I only use it for cooking and have never had anything but very good results.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

"Fine" Dining Quarantine Style

Ok this was the official list of dining possibilities for the past week. As usual it did not happen exactly, but that is fine. Even though life is moving slowly these days, it is still moving and things as well as desires change. Although none of this was "Fine Dining" in the traditional sense, the meals were perfectly fine. 

What was planned:
1. Hamburger helper, broccoli
2. Navy bean salad, garlic toast. green beans
3. Tuna patty , coleslaw, green beans
4. Grilled chicken over couscous, Brussels sprouts
5. Tiki Masala over rice, broccoli
6. Grilled mahi mahi burgers, faro/cucumber salad
7. Take out from somewhere

What really happened
Monday: It was a blah type of day. I think the isolation is really getting the best of me, so I decided at the least I could experiment in the kitchen . If I couldn't go outside and play with my friends I could at least play with my food.
Tuna patty, coleslaw, green beans

Tuesday: Tuesday was a laundry kind of day with a side of Indian subcontinent. 
Chicken Tiki Masala, broccoli

Wednesday:  Who ever knew staying confined could be so difficult. When the going gets tough, the tough find a cake mix in the back of the pantry and make cake.
White bean salad, cornbread, German Chocolate dump cake

Thursday: Another lake house pantry clean out item gone!
Hamburger helper with added onions, mushrooms and broccoli, tossed salad

Friday: We went to the lake place to check on it, grab some remaining pantry items there, and grabbed take out on the way home
Costa's baked ziti, tossed salad

Saturday: We were both going a little stir crazy, so we went out to eat for lunch, which is a current metaphor for picking up a couple of sandwiches at a drive through, parking at a private garden and eating in the car overlooking hostas and irises. Since we ate late we were not terribly hungry for dinner. Fortunately I found a well hidden bag in the freezer.
Potstickers with dipping sauce, cucumber, onion, radish and tomato salad

Sunday: The day began with rain and ended with more rain. Lots and lots of rain! We decided to have breakfast together and then just nosh on leftovers for the rest of the day, so I guess the meal I will count is actually our morning meal.
Toast, bacon, eggs, coffee.  Oh and I found another cake mix and some cherries in the freezer. Cherry dump cake might have happened!

Planned for The New Week and yes I am laying off Keto one more week to use stuff
1. Black beans and rice, coleslaw, cornbread
2. Fettuccine with Alfredo sauce, green salad, asparagus
3. Smoked sausage, with cabbage and potatoes
4. Grilled brined chicken, brussels sprouts, sliced tomatoes, rice
5. Hamburger helper with peppers, zucchini and onions added, coleslaw, 
6. Loaded nachos and a side salad
7. Loaded baked potatoes, broccoli

Stuff I had on hand that was used:  (This is really for my benefit, feel free to skip it or read it if you want.)
I have decided to keep a list of the food items I used to make meals, or baked items including anything I consume during the day that is outside of my usual meal prep just to keep my inventory straight. 
I am a coffee for breakfast kind of gal and generally eat only leftovers for the mid-day meal, so those are already accounted for in the list.  My snacks are either something leftover or some fruit. (BTW cookies or a piece of cake from the freezer are made from supplies I used prior to starting this so they will not be listed  even if they were eaten and enjoyed.  I am a threat to freeze things just to get them out of my line of fire, but  that has not stopped me from grabbing the occasional piece of the snicker doodle cake. Especially after I found zapping it for 25 seconds makes a perfect and perfectly warm snack. Gotta go back to keto living soon or I will not fit through the front door when quarantine is over.)

From the freezer:
1 mini pizza (lunch)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 pack ground chuck
Ralston whole wheat cereal (No idea why I ever bought this)
Bag of Trader Joe's potstickers
Bag frozen cherries
2 servings ice cream
5 slices cooked bacon
4 slices sliced Italian bread

 From the pantry
1 can albacore tuna
1 can French style green beans (gross, bought by mistake and now gone forever)
1 cup oatmeal 
Tiki Masala dinner mix (Lake Place rescue)
coffee (lots of coffee, but I still have 4 unopened bags in the freezer)
4 family size tea bags
1 cup navy beans
1 Jiffy corn muffin mix (Lake place rescue)
1/2 German Chocolate cake mix (Lake place rescue)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut
olive oil
red wine vingeagr
Hamburger Helper (Lake place rescue)
1/2 (wish) cup popcorn
1/2 yellow cake mix (Lake place rescue)
soy sauce
sesame oil

1 large bag coleslaw mix
6 tangerines
1 huge bunch broccoli
remains of the bag of spinach (1/3 maybe)
12 radishes
1/2 red onion
2 cups baby carrots
1 yellow onion
1 carton mushrooms
1 romaine heart
20ish cherry tomatoes
1 tomato
2 cucumbers
handful scallions

Eggs and Dairy
6 eggs

Bought for this weeks meals:
nothing, but TheHub did buy some ice cream

Depending on the weather, I have a large instacart order ready to place Monday or Tuesday. I have very little produce left: a few carrots, radishes, 1/2 cucumber, a few scallions, a little coleslaw, 1/2 pound asparagus, a couple of tangerines,  a couple of potatoes, and lots of onions so I am stocking up on produce. I should be buying enough to last at least 2 more weeks.
I have no bread, other than 4 slices of Italian bread in the freezer, so that is on the list too
And snacks__we need some snack type foods. Getting tired of popcorn
I still have a boatload of proteins in the freezer, along with butter,  and cheese and a drawer full of frozen veggies, but I might get one more carton of eggs.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Quarantine Cooking__Navy Bean Salad

This was another food experiment for me to pass on to Son3 and DIL3 who are maintaining a quarantine lifestyle in their small NYC apartment. They are well stocked, but in a small space you can only find room for so much, so I am playing with food they have on hand and will pass the results (only if they are successful) on to them and whoever else is reading this.

I keep dried beans* on hand all the time and thought some would make a perfectly decent meal. Trust me, I am not above having beans and rice for dinner and really do enjoy it, but I am playing with ingredients to come up with very flavorful ways to use common foods in a slightly different way. I have said before TheHub is a very willing partner and tries anything without complaint, but I also try to make sure whatever we are going to eat is packed with flavor, and hopefully looks tasty. After all, the first bite of any meal we take is with our eyes.

                                                                                                Navy Bean Salad
2 cups cooked, drained and cooled navy beans (use any white bean, but if using canned drain them first)
4 radishes in matchstick slices
1 cup baby carrots, cut into coins, par cooked to a crisp tender, then cooled
1 seeded minced jalapeno (I would have used bell pepper but I had none)
I cup fresh spinach sliced into ribbons
1 rib celery, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion.

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar (I used wine vinegar but use whatever you want or have on hand)
seasonings   I used about 2 teaspoons of Trader Joe's "everything. but the bagel" seasoning blend.
Use any seasonings or seasoning blend you like. Blend the ingredients, then blend again right before serving.
salt (optional)
pepper (optional)
Or, if you prefer, use an oil and vinegar based bought dressing.

In a large bowl mix all the vegetables together, toss the dressing throughout, gently so the beans will not break. I stuck mine in a covered bowl and let is sit in the fridge most of the day.When it got to be dinner time the meal was as simple as scoop and serve.  Normally I would put this on a lettuce leaf so it would look prettier, but these days I am not using food for plating purposes, I have one heart of romaine lettuce left and it is earmarked for a side salad, not decoration.

This is just made with what I had on hand. I would have preferred some tomatoes, but I am saving those for another meal. After I added the chopped red onion I remembered I had scallions and would have used them instead. Marinated artichoke hearts would have been a great addition and so would black olives (which I had but didn't think of beforehand).

This was a really tasty  and filling meal. I served it along with cornbread which I made using a mix and adding the remaining creamed corn that was leftover after making the tuna patties. (Because as I have said I am aiming for zero food waste)  There is enough of the salad left for a couple of light lunches for me.
I will make this again but I am sure I will use entirely different veggies, based on what is in the produce drawer at the time.

Give it a try, it was really good!

* Cooking dried beans is a really simple process. Wash and sort them the night before, put them in a pan with about 2 inches of water covering the beans. Leave overnight and the next day, drain the beans, add more water and salt. Bring them to a boil, then lower the heat and cover until they are soft. (About 45 minutes - 1 hour) Add more water as necessary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quarantine Cooking__Almost Sausage

As you may or may not know,  I am trying new foods so that I can pass along successful recipes to my son and DIL in NYC. Like me they are seriously limiting their exposure to the outside world They live in a small apartment and though they stocked their kitchen before things got really bad, they don't really have the luxury of experimentation. I have had a habit of overstocking, so an unsuccessful recipe is not going to deplete anything here. Of course I will not be sharing the failures though. There is no point sharing something that does not at least taste good.

I tried this for two reasons. One is just because I have never tried it before and thought it might be fun to see if it really works, and the second is that I have been reading about several meat processing plants that are closing temporarily because of the virus. This will probably mean a run on products with no restocking in sight.

Almost Sausage

3 cups cooked oatmeal (cooked and refrigerated until cold. See note at the bottom of the recipe)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes (check and see if you have any packets left from a pizza delivery)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seed (optional but really good, and strongly recommended)
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
oil for frying

Use old fashioned oats if you have them. If not go ahead with the quick cooking kind but the end product will be a little less chewy. Use less water than you would for a breakfast porridge. You want the oats to be a little on the dry side. After they are cooked put them in the fridge to cool completely. This is a very important step so that you will actually be able to form patties.

Add the spices to the cold oatmeal and blend well. When you think you have it all stirred together, sir a couple of more times. Form the mixture into patties.  (I got 8 out of the mixture)

Put about 3 tablespoons of oil into a small pan and heat until hot but not smoking. I cooked two patties at a time and it worked well.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then using a spatula, press down so the patties are about 1/2 as thick as they were. When the bottom is set, flip them over and cook the through. Remove to an absorbent paper (I cut brown grocery bags into squares and use them as blotting papers) then plate and eat.

The taste is remarkably like sausage, but the mouth feel is a little different. It is not bad, just different.  As long as you do not expect this to be identical to a pork sausage, you should enjoy it. I only cooked 2 patties, mainly because I am here by myself. I did not want but one anyway, but two fit in the pan and now I am glad I cooked two because I butchered the first one getting it out of the pan. I was not being careful at all and all of the sudden I had a fake sausage patty flying through the air right before it splatted on the cabinet door.

Anyway, this is an easy enough recipe and would be great for anyone who did not have sausage on hand and was having the craving for some, or for anyone who just wanted a vegan alternative.
When I cook the remaining patties I think I will only brown them in the pan and then transfer them to a baking sheet to finish cooking in the oven. Will amend this recipe with those results.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Quarantine Cooking__Tuna Patties

I have mentioned that I am trying different ways of making foods that are traditionally on hand so that I can share the results with Son3 and DIL3 and anyone else who is trying to make their available foods go as far as possible while sequestering in the home.

This "recipe',  and I use that term lightly even though I did take the time to actually measure what I put in the bowl, is pretty easy and straight forward using minimal ingredients for a little bit of a change to a food item nearly everyone has on hand.

Tuna Patties
1 can albacore solid pack tuna, drained*
1/3 cup canned creamed corn, or 1/4 cup whole kernel corn
2 tablespoons flour (if using niblet corn increase the flour to 3 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (1/4 teaspoon vinegar if you have no lemon juice)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon savory or herb of choice (optional)

In a small bowl break the tuna apart  with a fork. Then stir in the flour and baking powder and mix together. Next add the remaining ingredients and blend well.
Grease a skillet or griddle pan with nonstick spray, melted butter, ghee, or oil. When the pan is hot (medium high heat setting) spoon the tuna mixture onto the surface much like you would for a pancake. Wait until the patty is set (4 or 5 minutes ) then gently turn it. Lower the heat a little and cook until it is totally done (about 5 -6 more minutes)

Place on a plate,  top with a dollop of tartar sauce and serve. This made enough for two generous portions but could serve 4 if you had a substantial side dish.

Quick and easy tartar sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon minced pickles (dill or sweet, your choice)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
Mix all together in a small bowl

This was  tasty and really did not have an overpowering tuna taste. It was a quick and very easy main dish which is seriously economic using ingredients that nearly everyone has on hand.  I will make it again  and  I am also going to try the same basic recipe (without the corn) the next time we have leftover mashed potatoes using southwestern spices. For that I will leave off the tartar sauce and add a dollop of salsa and sour cream instead.

We are all in this together, and I have a couple of ideas to try later in the week. I am so grateful TheHub is more than willing to be  my partner and taste tester in this venture.

* I am sure standard chuck light tuna would also work, but I would use two cans instead of one.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Quarantine Dining Out__In The Kitchen

Once again I am doing this post filled with meal possibilities for the week along with recounting what did and did not happen with the meal plan for last week. And true to my very spontaneous self what was planned and what really happened didn't coincide. I guess we will see what happens or doesn't happen this week.

What was originally planned for the past week:
1. Chopped salad, rolls or keto rolls
2. Pasta or zoodles with Alfredo sauce, broccoli, roll or keto roll
3. Leftover pork tenderloin, green beans, wilted spinach salad, rolls or keto rolls
4. Grilled halibut steaks, tossed salad, baked potato or caulimash
5. Taco salad, corn chips (or none) keto cornbread
6. Hot dog hash, coleslaw
7. Easter meal, Stuffed boneless leg of lamb, rice, asparagus (? I think I have some frozen) , salad, something lemony for dessert.

And what really happened:
Monday: As I continued on the no food waste quest I scoured the fridge to decide on the meal for the night. I knew I had the tenderloin and had deglazed the roasting pan and included the liquid when I refrigerated the leftover pork. While I was poking around I found about 3/4 cup if leftover potatoes hanging out  too. Mushrooms were  part of the grocery delivery from the week before, so our dinner almost planned itself. 
Leftover diced pork tenderloin with onions and mushrooms over leftover mashed potatoes (or over nothing) wilted spinach salad.

Tuesday: After talking with Son3 I decided to experiment with a meal made with items he had on hand, just to change up the flavors and traditional format a little.
Hot dog hash, made with potatoes (or cauliflower for a keto version), lettuce wedge

Wednesday: Last week when I was looking through the freezer I found a package of taco meat. 
Taco salad

Thursday: I was just not feeling it, so TheHub and I decided to take a quick ride and grab something.   Captain D's takeout

Friday: Friday's I have to be at Mom's both in the mornings and the afternoons to fill in the gaps with the sitters. When I got home in the early evening I decided I wanted something that would be very quick for dinner, so I pulled a small package of ground chuck from the freezer.
Sloppy Joe's over buns or ultra low carb bread,  lettuce cukes and bell pepper salad

Saturday: We decided to ride around just a little for a change of scenery. While we were riding we passed our favorite Thai joint. It is literally the definition of a joint. Its previous incarnation was as a gas station and not one of those nice convenience store type gas stations either. It was just a hole in the wall gas station with chips, candy bars, cigarettes, soft drinks and beer types of places. I am not sure how they managed to turn such a small, kind of seedy place into its current state of deliciousness. Though it does have about 8 small tables inside, it is not a place most people dine in and even before Covid the majority of their business was take out. So we opted to eat an early dinner, ordered, and  brought it home.
Blue Pacific Take Out

Sunday:  I had planned on having a boneless leg of lamb for Easter, in fact, it was bought specifically for Easter. But that was pre-corona when I thought we would be having family over to celebrate. I  then planned to just go ahead and cook it for the two of us, until I took it out of the freezer and realized how big it was. So, it went back into the freezer and I came up with a more reasonable plan for just two people.
Baked chicken thighs, dressing (It's a southern thing like cornbread stuffing but it is baked in a pan and is much better) asparagus.

What was used from the freezer
1 pack taco meat
3 hotdogs
1 small pack ground chuck
1 hamburger bun
2 slices low carb bread
1 pack chicken

From the pantry
Other than seasonings, olive oil, vinegars, mayo, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce no pantry foods were used except for 1 pack of cornbread mix

Produce used for dinners
1/2 cauliflower
1 1/2  onions
1 rib celery
1 small bell pepper
2  hearts of romaine lettuce
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 tomato
1/2 cucumber
3/4 bag spinach
1/2 pound asparagus

Added to the freezer: Nothing!

Next week is going to be a non-keto week. Going into the week I have 2 avocados, carrots, coleslaw mix, I head of cabbage, 1 head broccoli, 1 cucumber, 1 romaine heart,  1/2 lb. asparagus, 1/2 stalk celery , a smattering of cherry tomatoes, and some radishes,  We have a lot of foods that can be used for meals, but they are not keto compliant. Since things do not seem to be lessening, using some of them could mean at least one additional week before I have to go to the store or have groceries delivered.  I may need a little more produce, but I can most likely get by with the veggies in the freezer. If I feel the need/want for salad fixings there are a couple of produce stands who are taking phone orders and providing curbside delivery. I love the idea of not having to get out of the car to get fresh food. (Also one of the stands sells Cookie Fix cookie dough! Worth every penny!)

And what I planned for the coming week:
1. Hamburger helper, broccoli
2. Navy bean salad, garlic toast. green beans
3. Tuna patty , coleslaw, green beans
4. Grilled chicken over couscous, Brussels sprouts
5. Tiki Masala over rice, broccoli
6. Grilled mahi mahi burgers, faro/cucumber salad
7. Take out from somewhere

Hope you have a great week and don't cook up anything you can't get out of!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Bucket List for Post Corona

Lorraine at We are Clamco had a link on her post today. It was from a blogger who had a list of 50 things on her bucket list for  our post Covid 19 world. I thought I would do the same but for now my list is shorter. I will revisit this post and add to it as I am inspired, and I am sure in the coming weeks I will think of many things I want to do.

1.  Go out to eat at least once a week at locally owned restaurants
2.  Buy something from a locally owned business every week
3.  Volunteer regularly to help people recover from the economics of quarantine
4.  Fly to Portland to see Pip, DIL1 and Son1
5.  Fly to NYC to see Son3 and DIL3
6.  Have people over to eat at least once a month
7.  Go to the beach
8.  Weekly movies at the theater
9.  Listen to live music
10. See a live theater performance
11. Sit somewhere with a cup of coffee and people watch
12. Book club!
13. Meet friends for morning coffee
14. Pay better attention to my friends needs or wants
15. Have the neighbor kids over for a cookout
16. Start a monthly neighborhood get together (Drinks on the patio , maybe?)
17. Visit relatives in Fairhope and Daphne
18. Visit the Georgia relatives
19. Visit the West Alabama relatives
20. Lunch with my cousin and her husband
21. Go to Tuscaloosa to visit my friend M
22. Go to Nashville to visit 2 different friends
23. Go to Huntsville to visit Uncle Bob
24. Visit museums that are local
25. Bake and take goodies to people at least once a month
26. Take advantage of some programs our local library offers
27. Enjoy simple things like going to the grocery store
28. Try something different, can be anything!

So what is on your bucket list?  I would like to hear yours

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Quarantine Cooking: Hot Dog Hash

In nearly every post I have made about food during this isolation period I have mentioned that I am trying to use every single little bit of food. In addition to not wasting it I am also changing the way that I cook a little bit. For example, if I am using onion for flavoring, I use about half of what I used previously. Even though there is still a lot of food available for purchase, I am trying to go to the store a minimal number of times so I am stretching my supplies here. The same goes for any other veggie I use for flavoring. 1/2 the amount of green pepper does not change the taste of a dish tremendously, unless it is something like philly cheesesteak which relies on the peppers and onions to create the dish. Having said all of this, I have little containers of partially used veggies in the fridge.
That along with something Son3 said inspired this dish.

Son3 lives in Manhattan at the epicenter of the most cases of the virus. It makes sense since it has a dense population in a very contained space. He and DIL3 made the choice right at the beginning to stock up on whatever they could find to be prepared for a longer than expected isolation. And we all know that square footage in an NYC apartment is minimal, so while they were stocking up they had limited space to keep things. One food they found easily during the two days they were hunting and gathering were hotdogs. No one's favorite food, but like he said, they freeze easily and take up little space. The only issue with them is other than eating a hotdog, or beans and franks, or kraut and weiners what do you make with them?

I started giving this a little thought and came up with a trial recipe to send to Son3. I made TheHub be my guinea pig for the real version and I made mine a keto version of the same thing. This is the result with what should be some acceptable substitutions based on what is available.

This recipe is based on a single serving, which can be easily doubled, tripled or whatever you need to do to it.

Hotdog Hash

                  (For reference, the bowl in the photo measures 7 1/2 inches in diameter)

1 or 2 hotdogs cut into "coins"
1 medium potato, chopped ( peeled or unpeeled, your choice but use the one that looks like it is about to sprout first)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 small bell pepper chopped
1 rib celery chopped (very wilted celery that needed to be used)
4 mushrooms, sliced (added because I had them and needed to use them)
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil, but any oil, bacon grease, lard, chicken fat will do)
garlic powder (a couple of pinches)
onion powder ( a pinch)
chili powder one sprinkle (but optional)
cumin (another pinch but also optional)
1/4 cup water

Put about 1 teaspoon of the oil in the bottom of a small sauté pan and cook the hotdogs until they are a tiny bit crispy. Move them to a plate, but do not drain the pan. Add the remaining oil to the pan then add the onions and the pepper bits and cook until they are wilted. Next toss in the celery and the potatoes. I used a silicon spatula to turn the mixture and continually scrape the bottom of the pan because you don't want the potatoes to stick. (I was cooking in stainless steel and did not have a non-stick surface, so stirring continually was necessary). Once the potatoes begin to soften a little add the water and seasonings. You will still need to keep the vegetables moving, but it works better to kind of flip them rather than stir since you do not want the potatoes to break apart.  As soon as the potatoes soften add the hotdogs back into the pan. When everything is piping hot place in a bowl and eat. I suggest serving it with a little tobasco or whole grain mustard.
For the keto version I substituted cauliflower for the potatoes, but followed the same cooking instructions.

You could also use about a cup of thawed tater tots, thawed frozen French fries cut into cubes or a can of new potatoes in lieu of a raw potato. It would be perfectly good with a sweet potato, chopped radishes or some rutabaga (I don't like rutabaga or turnips but they would both work if you like the flavor) instead of the potato. Canned navy or garbanzo beans would also be an alternative to the potatoes. I had mine with chopped cauliflower and it was very tasty, and even chopped cabbage would work. Of course you can go all out and add all or any combination of these to make it your own. The cooking time would alter slightly but it would work.

Have no bell pepper? Add a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes. If you like heat use a jalapeño pepper instead. Or omit the pepper all together.

Have some wilting carrots, leftover bits of green beans or peas? Toss them in the pan , You could also add greens that need to be used.

And the verdict: Believe it or not, this was a really tasty dinner.  For our meal I used a total of 3 hotdogs and gave TheHub more than half of the "coins'. I did not personally try the one with the potatoes, but even my keto version was good. TheHub thought his  was really tasty and filling. And honestly it looked much better than mine. I guess that is just the difference in using a starchy (delicious) vegetable instead of a cruciferous one.

So go out on a limb and experiment a little. The object here is to use what is available in your kitchen making the most of your resources. Add or change ingredients based on what you have to work with. Just eat, stay at home and stay out of the stores as much as possible to flatten this curve. And if you are considered an essential worker, please be safe and take care of yourself!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy __Week 14

Once again I am counting my daily joys. Even in these unsettling times there are joys if we just look for them. They may be smaller than going to a play or not as exciting as a trip to see a grandchild, but there are joys all around. I am still keeping my list to re-read New Year's Eve and see that every single day has at least one thing joyful, even if it has to be searched for.

Wednesday: This is going to sound weird but a joy for me today is at the expense of My Beloved Sister. She has worked at advertising agencies since she was fresh out of college. Her (until Tuesday) employer was a small agency whose main clients are car dealerships. The car dealers were cancelling their advertising right and left, so cuts had to be made. We are hoping it will just be a furlough, but who knows how long recovery will take. Anyway, since she did not have to go to work this morning, she went to Mom's and I got to wake, shower and have a cup of coffee without leaving the house.
And as another very small joy, I went to the store and found 4 single rolls of toilet paper (there was a 4 roll limit), and I found a 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters. I can home and began processing them. I froze 3 bags of cooked chicken and 4 quarts of super rich chicken broth.

Thursday: I only have one word to say about the big joy for today____Instacart! I ordered an Aldi purchase and it arrived at my front door within 2 hours. Wow it was fantastic. I actually had everything I needed except for fresh produce, so I got a good bit of it and also bought 4 boxes of  peanut butter chocolate covered cookies. TheHub loves them and I am peanut butter indifferent so they do not scream "Eat Me" every time I walk by.
Now all the produce was processed, I had everything Mom needed to take to her house Friday morning, and I should need absolutely nothing for the next couple of weeks. When I run out of produce again I found that a locally owned produce market is offering call-in drive up service. I will probably use them when my supplies run low.

Friday: I am ashamed to admit I had the grumps. I was finding no joy in anything really until I found Mom's substitute sitter was going to be with her Friday afternoon through late Friday night. She is an absolute joy to be around and makes Mom feel like they are having a tea party, so having her there and watching Mom's spirits lift the second she saw her was enough joy for one day.

Saturday: Of course FaceTime with Pip is always a joy! TheHub and I had a sort of down day and did not really get a lot accomplished, but that is ok. Maybe I should find joy in having coffee on the deck, and though they are late blooming, the apple trees have blossoms, and the neighbors cat has declared our back yard as his new hunting grounds. Maybe the chipmunks will not be able to eat everything I plant after all. I don't care if the cat catches them or just scares them into moving!

Sunday: I truly do not know if we could have asked for a more joy filled day! We started off the morning at 8:30 by live streaming our church's Palm Sunday service. Following that we had a webex Sunday school class.
TheHub and I messed around until about 2 when we grilled a hamburger and then had a zoom tele group chat with all of TheHub's family (37 in all). It was wonderful and except for our youngest nephew's 2 children every single family member was there. (They are little folks and it was nap time )
Later I thawed a big container of Mardi Gras punch (I really needed the freezer space) and invited 4 of our neighbors to our driveway where we sat about 10 feet apart and have drinks and conversation until dark.

Monday:  When I walked out to get the mail I noticed my neighbor was putting up her Easter egg lights above her front door. Even though her sons are older teens she said wanted something for the kids who walk by to look at. (We laughed because walking the neighborhood is the new hip way to spend the late afternoon. I have never seen so many people taking family strolls) Anyway, I was inspired by her gracious attitude.
I have a seriously ugly Easter wreath that I took from Mom's basement. My sister and I were talking about how unattractive it was one day, so after she left I grabbed it with the intention of sneaking over to her house and putting it on her front door. Corona and a shelter in place order changed all that, so I worked for a few minutes  and did a little bunny reformation and stuck that sucker on the door. Its not like anyone is going to get close enough to see how horrid it is anyway!
And the final joy for the day, TheHub and I watched the first episode of Ozark.! Can't wait for tomorrow to watch episode 2. (TheHub refuses to binge watch???)

Tuesday: Today I was able to find okra and cucumber seed at a lovely outdoor plant store. It was so nice to be able to get tomatoes, herbs and a lime tree in a lovely safe mostly unoccupied space.  With some existing seeds I have, I will be able to start a little garden this year. I think it is a great idea for everyone who is able to try and grow some foods right now.
I was also able to ride by our church this afternoon to pick up our sealed communion wafers and cups for our online Maundy Thursday service. The church is doing a remarkable and very safe job during this crazy to keep  Holy Week tradition available to everyone.
We watched episode 4  of The. Chosen (Youtube)

I hope you all can find some joy every day during this insane time, and I particularly wish every one's safety and sanity.