Quarantine Week 7 – Haven’t quit!

I got into a few projects and totally failed to finish and post this blog, so week 8 will follow closely behind, and now we are done with it, too! The cooking started to slow down a bit this week. I decided to put my sourdough starter in the refrigerator so as to reduce my baking with it to once a week or so. I’ve also jumped in with both feet on gardening despite living in a 2nd story city apartment with no yard.

Thursday (5/7) I made a delicious whole wheat sour dough loaf using the recipe from my flour guy at True Grain Artisan Milling. I adjusted it to a heavy duty loaf pan because I am experimenting with a bread shape and size that will fit our 10-year-old’s lunchbox. It is a very compartmentalized style. Not that I know when she’ll next be using said lunchbox. I tried putting a sheet pan on top and using a brick to hold it in place. The bread was stronger than the brick, so that didn’t work as well as hoped, and my top had a bit of a funny look as a result. But, the bread was delicious, and my husband made a beautify roast beef sandwich for lunch. For dinner, I used the last of the left over pork steaks to make pork fried rice in my instant pot. It got rave reviews from my very biased husband.

Friday (5/8) was a truly awesome day. If you have not already, please read my blog WE HAVE THE MEATS! But the bottom line is that I got a large meat delivery, and this took up most of my day with food prep for the future. I also cleaned the new bin I obtained for my flour and so was able to transfer my recently acquired 25-pound bag of unbleached AP flour. After spending all afternoon prepping meat for the freezer and putting a chicken in brine for Sunday, I decided dinner should be easy. I had an open block of Velveeta, so I went with shells ‘n cheese and steamed broccoli. The kid was thrilled and ate what could only be described as a glutenous amount. But hey, she did eat a serving of broccoli for every spoonful of mac.

Saturday, (5/9) I am going to call my two failures and a success story. The 10-year-old and I successfully made thumbprint cookies using some fig jam I have had in my refrigerator for at least 6 months. We found a recipe at delish.com and I pre-measured all ingredients and set up the mixer and pans before having the kid join me. I then stood in a corner and read her instructions while she made the cookies. I did help with molding them as there were quite a few. We made these as a present for her mother for Mother’s day, but I got to eat the ones that didn’t fit in the container for delivery…and I ate every single one of them that night.

I tried to make sourdough flour tortillas using a recipe I found online. I failed. My dough was way to loose and sticky. I tried several methods for getting it to work in the tortilla press, including plastic wrap, parchment paper and oil. Nothing worked. I could get a very thin tortilla shape, but trying to transfer it from the press continuously resulted in disaster. I tried just putting a ball straight into a hot cast iron skillet and pressing it with the bottom of a dutch oven. It stuck to the dutch oven. No amount of oil or flour helped this issue. I finally gave up.

I had decided to do flatbread pizzas for dinner. I had prepped the Italian sausage and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours. I had taken frozen garlic naan from the freezer the day before and let it thaw in the refrigerator. When I went to start making the pizzas, I realized the package had previously been opened and so there were only two pieces of naan. These are not very large naan pieces, so each makes about one slightly smaller than a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. I decided to take that failed tortilla dough and turn it into a flat bread instead. Fail. This was way too bready for pizza for us. My husband and I both like a good thin, crispy crust. We ended up peeling the toppings off and eating them without the “crust.” The two made on the naan were very good.

I experimented with aquafaba between cookies and dinner. I made mayonnaise and butter. Both were actually pretty good. I also started my homemade bacon curing. There will be more on that in a future blog, I am sure. But time will tell if that is a failure or success story. Oh, and I ended the day by prepping a French toast casserole.

Sunday (5/10) started with baking the French toast casserole. When it was done, we packed it in a cardboard box and delivered it with the 10-year-old, the cookies, and a Mother’s day gift to her mom. If this gets confusing sometimes, I’m the “step mom”… but I refuse to refer to my daughter as a step anything.

We then drove downtown so my husband could pick up some things from his office. It was a surreal experience seeing the Loop with so little traffic and people. I mean, it’s normally pretty quiet on a Sunday, but this was like a scene out of one of those end-of-the-world movies. But it was probably the best time for him to go in, as he encounter no one except the police officer that guards City Hall. We then went to Menard’s to pick up some gardening supplies I had ordered online.

We came home, and I decided brunch was a must. I used some of the leftover Italian sausage I had made Saturday to make an Italian?? version of biscuits and gravy. Sounds odd, but it was delicious. And my homemade biscuits always take me back to my childhood when I used to make them with my grandma.

For dinner, I had that chicken I had brined. I had planned to use a recipe from Michael Symon’s quarantine dinner videos. I used his method, but not the recipe, as I wasn’t particularly in the mood for lemon. That’s unusual for me, but I think I got really burned out on lemon-pepper chicken years ago, and I have yet to want to recreate, and hopefully improve, that recipe. So I seasoned my chicken with just salt and pepper, and I shoved an onion in the cavity instead of a lemon. We also had some tiny Yukon gold potatoes, so I roasted those as well and then smashed them and roasted a few more minutes with garlic and Parmesan. They were awesome!

Not my best photo, but it tasted good!

Monday (5/11) was spent mostly on grocery shopping and cleaning my kitchen from Sunday’s cooking. I placed a grocery order from Aldi, which ended up with me having to chat with my shopper a lot due to out-of-stock items. I made a mental note that Monday may not be the best day to order from them. However, my order delivered in less than two hours, and I spent an hour or so sanitizing and putting things away. I chopped up the leftover chicken, mostly breast meat, and made it into a chicken salad. Then for dinner, I made a very good linguine Alfredo Florentine. The kiddo loves Alfredo, and the spinach just makes me feel like I’m at least adding some healthiness to it. We ate every bite of it.

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Tuesday (5/12) started with the kid and I walking to my former spouse’s house to pick up a tool for cutting chicken wire for my garden. Since my husband had a 9 am Zoom meeting, we decided we would do breakfast after. However, his meeting ran long, so I ended up giving the kid a piece of whole wheat toast with butter and sliced apples. We then gave her a bigger lunch with leftover mac ‘n cheese and some blueberries. The husband and I had chicken salad with pita crackers. It was so good.

When I made the whole wheat bread on Thursday, I had put one loaf in the freezer before the final proof, and I had taken it out to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. I wanted to give that loaf idea another shot, but this type with a split top. I still struggle with transferring my dough from board to pan, but the shape and the split ultimately worked out. What did not work out is that I forgot to flour the bottom of my loaf pan before putting my bread in to bake. It stuck. My bread looked beautiful on top, but the whole bottom ripped out. Oh well, I will try again.

We picked up our second order of groceries after dropping the kid at her mom’s. It was mostly produce from Harvest Time Foods, our local grocer. After sanitizing and putting everything away, I decided to scrap my dinner plan. It had been shrimp scampi, but I just did not feel like de-veining shrimp. We were going to just go with leftovers until I remembered the box of taquitos tucked away in my deep freeze. I wrote a separate blog on that, but yes, we had a very healthy dinner of frozen taquitos and sour cream.

undefinedWednesday (5/13) was a big gardening day for me. For more details on that, see my post Just Call Me Farmer Jen. But I took out some of the brioche buns I had frozen before the final rise and grilled some of the polish sausages, some onions and a portabella mushroom. We ate them on the brioche buns with a side of broccoli and cheese. And yes, I used Velveeta, so it was a very healthy side dish.

So, it was another pretty good food week for us. And nobody’s fighting or driving each other crazy, so I feel like we are very lucky.

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