Quarantine Week 8 – the saga continues

We made it through another week of this adventure. There were a couple of burns and a few less than totally successful cooking moments, but we are still going strong in our little bubble.

Thursday (5/14) started with ham and cheddar scrambled eggs for the husband and I and a sweet pepper omelet for the kid. I made a beautiful brown butter sauce for some pre-made sun-dried tomato ravioli for lunch. I have attempted brown butter sauce a couple of times and not really been happy with it. This came out just the way I wanted and was wasted on a weekday lunch! I guess it works better when you aren’t trying to impress anyone. For dinner, I finally thawed those shrimp and made scampi served on linguine with a side salad of butter lettuce, boiled egg, avocado and ranch. The eggs were boiled a little harder than I like, but it was my first test of making them using the instant pot. The scampi was less flavorful than I wanted, but still good.

Friday (5/15) started with a ham and cheese hash-brown casserole. I had been wanting to make this. I actually bought substantially more frozen hash-browns than needed because I didn’t bother to read the quantity when ordering them online. Oh well, another side effect of getting used to online shopping. Or an example of how assuming works out. Anyway, it was a pretty good brunch. For dinner, I went lazy, and we had the leftover shrimp scampi, but I added scallions and shredded Parmesan. It was much better.

Saturday (5/16) was bacon day! I was finally ready to smoke the bacon. I put it and a small pork shoulder roast on the smoker (aka, my Weber kettle turned into a smoker) around noon. This would normally be an absurdly late start, but since the roast was so small and bacon only takes a few hours, I risked it. The bacon came out beautiful but ultimately too salty. Not terrible for my first try, and it ended up being great in other dishes, but that’ll be discussed more later. Next time, I am going to try an uncured method. The roast came out great, and we ate it with some roasted broccoli for dinner. And I only ended up with two pretty decent burns from the grill! (Hint, careful not to almost drop a hot grill lid and try to catch it with your body.)

Sunday (5/17), my wonderful husband (and editor) made me a beautiful breakfast of over-medium fried eggs, bacon, English muffin and orange juice. Don’t worry, coffee was had, but he starts almost everyday by bringing me a beautiful cup of coffee, so it was long gone by breakfast. Yes, I am aware that I am a very lucky woman. I ate and then finished reading The French Laundry Cookbook. If you are asking yourself who actually reads an entire cookbook, you haven’t opened this one. It is more of a story with some recipes. But of course, I do want to make almost everything in it…but that’ll mostly have to wait until we are no longer quarantined, as most of it requires some specific ingredients I don’t normally have on hand.

For dinner, I took the leftover hash brown casserole, formed it into balls, breaded them and air-fried them like arroccini. I had to experiment a little with the timing on the air-fryer, but they came out nice and golden and were yummy. We ate most of them right away and my husband finished them off for lunch the next day.

Monday (5/18) was a bit of a busy day. I forget to mention that I had started some sourdough bread dough on Saturday, but it was now ready to bake. I did two loaves this time, one baked in a pre-heated dutch oven and one baked on the back of a heated cookie sheet. Both came out nice, but the Dutch oven one definitely had more rise and a darker, more beautiful crust. I still struggled with transferring the bread to the oven, but not nearly as much. I think I’m getting a system down until I can get a peel. One of the loaves would later be delivered to my daughter across town. I also took the previously made loaf and turned it into breadcrumbs.

I had a very beautiful salad for breakfast. Yes, I said breakfast. I woke up super early, so those bread loaves were baked on cooling before 9am and I was hungry. I had some butter lettuce that would probably only last a couple of days and still had some boiled eggs, and I decided to see if I could make a pretty plate. I think I succeeded.

For dinner, we tried to do take out for the first time since we started this journey because our favorite restaurant re-opened, but we couldn’t get through. I made a white wine risotto with Parmesan and scallions, because I didn’t have fresh basil but I have an abundance of scallions. I am hoping my basil plant gets big enough to produce enough basil soon. My baby plants are even getting close to being ready to re-pot. The kid doesn’t quite eat the risotto the way she did in the beginning, but I thought this was better than my previous instant pot versions. I discovered a little more water and letting it naturally release gives the rice a better texture.

Tuesday (5/19) I sliced up my latest sourdough bread loaf to discover my holes got a bit too big. It is possible. Making a sandwich was tough because there was a giant cave in the middle. But we managed it for a nice roast beef sandwich for lunch, along with some leftover green beans reheated with some garlic and onions. The kiddo had leftover ravioli, as there was not enough of the bread that could be used in sandwich form to make a pb&j.

Tuesday evening was a bit rough. We tried again to do the take-out and still could not get through. This resulted in what I can only describe as a personal meltdown. I think the ongoing stress of this pandemic finally got to me. There were tears over not getting the food I wanted. While in hindsight this sounds a bit childish, I think it was genuinely a needed catharsis. I might do another blog on that at some point. But, I ended up concluding I had not prepared a back-up plan, and everything was frozen so I ate chips and salsa for dinner. The following day, in a calmer state, I realized I had several options that were not in the freezer. I am, after all, super prepared for any food need, as my husband continuously reminds me when trying to stop me from ordering more of the foods. No pictures for this day.

Wednesday (5/20) was a late start morning after having drank too much and stayed up way too late after my catharsis…yep, I’m sticking with that description. I diced up some of the smoked bacon and scrambled it with eggs and cheddar for a late breakfast. The eggs and cheese balanced out the saltiness of the bacon well. I then made up a nice Italian bread loaf and set it to its final rise while cooking and eating dinner. In between the bread making, I managed to organize all my loose recipes into a beautiful binder, which while very nerdy, was very enjoyable for me. Yes, I also did some work, but who wants to hear about that?

We also got an upgrade on our freezer. My former spouse moved to Colorado and so we traded my smaller 5 cubic foot freezer for his which is double in size. This was quite the exercise as we had to remove the hinges to our outer door to get it inside. But, it also allowed me to fully reorganize my freezer and now I have space for more. My husband keeps trying to stop me from trying to buy a quarter of a hog or pig. I finally explained it would not be ready for pickup until later in the year and he’s freaking out less that I keep looking at farms.

For dinner, I made what I think is my best stir-fried rice to date. I have been making my rice in the instant pot, but decided I wanted more of those crispy bits. So, I cooked my rice first in the instant pot and then cooled the sticky rice down and refrigerated it for a couple of hours. I then sauteed it up with some veggies and eggs, and it came out beautiful. I ate way too much of it and even the kid cleaned her plate, so definitely a win. You can find the recipe here.

This week had its ups and downs in the cooking and emotion departments, but in the end I remember that we all ate well, and we are very lucky that we get along pretty well as a family.

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