Quarantine Week 3

As we keep going, I am doing much better at settling myself into not shopping so much. I felt slightly better when I heard Michael Symon say that he basically grocery shops daily. I’m not quite a daily shopper, but I do go multiple times a week between our regular shopping and the “oh, I need something for this recipe” trips, and then the added specialty shops like my spice shop and our local meat shop.

Thursday (4/2), I made another apple and cheddar galette for breakfast. This time I sweated the apples with some onions. I liked the flavor it added, and I liked the slightly more cooked texture of the apples. However, I slightly overbaked my eggs! I still ate it.

For dinner, I made ham and bean soup. I had 3 ham bones in my freezer from prior cooked hams, so I decided I should use one of those and some dry great northern beans I had in the cabinet. I have no idea how I seasoned that ham bone, but it had a good amount of meat and fat on it. I only added salt, onions, pepper and some bay leaves for spices. I cooked it in chicken broth for the added flavor. The soup was delicious, and I’ve had the left overs for lunch for 3 days.

Friday (4/3), I defrosted some Mississippi mud roast I had made before using a recipe from The New York Times. I tossed this into the instant pot with egg noodles and beef broth and cooked using the pressure cook setting for 6 minutes. When it was done, I used the quick release method and then stirred in 1/2 cup of sour cream. It was kind of a riff on beef stroganoff, and it was delicious and simple.

Saturday (4/4), I had some milk that had a sell by date of 4/5. We don’t use or drink a lot of milk, so this happens frequently because we’ll buy it for some particular recipe. In this case, I’ve been baking and using more milk recently, so my husband picked up a 1/2 gallon last time we shopped. Unfortunately, I seem to have slowed my use of it. So I made ricotta cheese, as I’ve been wanting some and haven’t shopped since that urge kicked in.

We didn’t really do dinner Saturday night. My menu plan was for leftovers. We did eat some of the leftovers in the fridge, but my husband also ended up baking a pizza from the freezer. So we learned a valuable lesson…we need to cook dinner even on Saturday and even when it’s just the two of us, and we technically have leftovers we could eat in the fridge. I also caved and ordered groceries for Sunday morning pick up, so our self-control was at an all time high.

Sunday (4/5), I drug myself out of bed at 7 am so I could put a pork shoulder in my Weber kettle grill- turned-smoker. I managed to get it on before 8 am, so I felt pretty good about that. We went out about noon and drove to our local grocery Harvest Time for our curbside pick-up. They were fantastic. They loaded the groceries in two very easy-to-carry boxes into the trunk of our car. They had to take my credit card because there were substitutions and thus price differences, but the very nice man dropped it into a sandwhich bag I brought just in case, but I felt much safer with the experience. We washed what groceries needed refrigeration immediately, and the rest are stored in the boxes on our enclosed porch.

I also managed to score some rye flour earlier in the week from a guy who has a cottage business milling flour from locally sourced grains. It had been in food jail for 2 days, so I brought it out and made my first loaf of rye bread. You can read more about that in my blog Everyone’s Making Bread.

It took until almost 9pm for my pork to reach the desired temperature. I took it off the “smoker” and wrapped it in foil to rest while I cooked the potatoes and green beans. I did a simple preparation with fresh green beans, small red potatoes, a diced shallot, some minced garlic, a little salt and pepper, and some chicken broth for moisture. I threw everything in the instant pot and let it pressure cook for 10 minutes. In the end, we had a very hearty dinner.

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Monday (4/6), I started a sour dough starter using some of the rye flour I obtained. I also planted some basil seeds from a basil plant I dried out last year. This will be my third attempt at trying to grow it from seeds, so I don’t have high expectations. But it’s warm out, and I’m going to give it another try. We slept late, so we didn’t really eat breakfast and we had leftovers for lunch. For dinner, I made a jack fruit and black bean tamale pie. I used a NYT recipe for inspiration, but made it vegetarian and a little simpler since I had Jiffy cornbread mix in the cabinet. It was pretty good, but the kid didn’t eat a lot of it. The flavors were a bit complex for her taste.

Tuesday (4/7), I made a breakfast casserole for breakfast using some bread that was going stale, some canned mushrooms we had open, and some steamed broccoli mixed with an egg and cream mixture. It was pretty good, even though I really am not a big mushroom fan. The kid was not a fan, so I gave her a piece of rye bread so she’d at least have something to eat. We did leftovers and gave her a frozen cheese pizza for lunch. For dinner, I made a lasagna using the ricotta cheese I made previously and homemade Italian sausage.

Wednesday (4/8) was Eleanor’s 10th birthday. Prior to the birthday festivities, I did find time to make a another loaf of rye so I could let it rise while we had dinner. For dinner, I made fettuccine Alfredo per her request with a side of roasted broccoli. Her mom joined us for dinner (before you get all upset, her mother goes nowhere and sees no one other than us and visa versa, but we share a 10-year-old, so we consider our houses to pretty much be one for purposes of our state’s stay at home order). She brought the cake, a beautiful, delicious gluten-free chocolate cake with chocolate icing and some cookies and cream ice cream. We were even able to do a virtual celebration with a few friends and family where we sang happy birthday, and she was able to blow out her candles! After dinner was, of course, presents galore!

Birthday party pandemic style!

Overall, quarantine has not been as much of a challenge for us as I know it is for so many. I am very lucky. We have the things we really need and are able to work from home. My husband and I love spending time together, so we haven’t been making each other nuts with both of us working from home. Working with her mom, the three of us have managed to keep things pretty upbeat and interesting for the 10-year-old, I think. My other girls aren’t with us, which is challenging at times, but I’ve been able to no-contact drop some things to make sure the oldest is taken care of, and the younger one is safely with a family who are similarly fortunate enough to have what they need.

When this quarantine period is over, if we have not all learned something that changes us, even a little bit, it would be just sad. But that’s a separate blog topic. For now, I think I’ll see if I can get some more herb seeds.

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