Quarantine Week 12

Cooking has slowed as I work on transitioning to summer cooking. I am struggling a little bit with the adjustment, as I got so used to baking there for a while. However, I am loving my veggies more these days with the warmer weather.

Thursday (6/11) was a no cooking day. We had leftovers for lunch and dinner. Kind of boring, and I have no good explanation except that I really did not feel like making the planned dinner once we got home and hauled the cases of wine up the stairs that we picked up using curbside service from Binny’s.

Friday (6/12), I seem to have felt the need for the lack of cooking on Thursday. I used the last of the cooked bacon to make a very nice salad for lunch with the last of some feta cheese that was definitely nearing its useful end. I am definitely on a big salad kick with the warm weather. I also chopped up the remaining smoked pork and put half in the refrigerator for fried rice, then double wrapped and froze the remaining so it can be used in a future recipe.

I had decided the day before that I was going to try using some peaches and cream instant oatmeal packets that have been taking up space in my pantry to make cookies. I found out my oldest was going to drop by, so I ended up making them vegan. (The cream is a non-dairy creamer.) They were actually pretty good, but I sent most of them home with her.

For dinner, I grilled chicken and baby potatoes and served it with a small side salad. I usually smoke chicken and have never actually just grilled it, but this came out juicy and flavorful. I was pretty proud. I also got the boiled eggs for the salad just the way we like them using my instant pot.

Saturday (6/13), I took some of the leftover chicken legs and cut up the meat for salads for lunch. I made a honey mustard dressing using actual honey mustard we had in the refrigerator and adding some oil, vinegar and honey. It was really good. Kind of wanted to just dip chicken in the dressing! For dinner, I finally made the pork fried rice. I usually do an instant pot version that is based on a Korean recipe, but this time, I decided to do stove top and a little more Japanese style with eggs and sesame oil and scallions. It was fantastic.

Sunday (6/14), I used the remaining chopped pork (because of course I chopped too much for the stir-fried rice) to make a pork and potato hash and served it with over-medium eggs for breakfast. Then I finally tried making Alton Brown’s sourdough discard cheese crackers. They are fantastic. I am a little sad that baking is something I limit in warmer weather because I would make these every day! I’d have to get better at using that pasta machine to roll them eventually…right? If you have not read my blog Pasta Masochist, let’s just say my pasta machine and I have a strained relationship.

I also made some caramel apple tarts. It was a basic tart dough recipe and then I blended some apple butter and an egg together. I put this with a piece of the salted caramels I made in each tart and baked. These were delicious. I say “were” because I ate every last one of them. Okay, my husband may have gotten one or two.

For dinner, we tried our hands at that take out thing again. It has been a couple of weeks, but we had really been wanting to do so and had decided it’s still much easier to do when we don’t have the little one. We ordered from a place in our neighborhood, Monti’s. We got a 12 inch classic Philly, cheese fries and a side salad. Yes, I told you I’m obsessed with salads, but this one was actually the husband’s suggestion. We split all of this and it was just the right amount of food for us. The process for pick up was not as smooth as our last adventure, but overall was not bad. However, the whole process of moving the food to our own plates, washing hands 10 times, etc. was still a little overwhelming. And I know that some of you may think our measures are overboard, but it’s what we need to do to feel as safe as possible right now. It also lessens the temptation to order out, which is great on the pocket book.

Monday (6/15) started with leftover pork and potato hash, leftover grilled potatoes and some over-medium eggs. Then, I decided I was making homemade gnocchi for dinner. I have a very tumultuous history with homemade pasta, but decided I really wanted to try it. I used a three cheese gnocchi recipe from an Italian cooking book I’ve owned for decades. I recall making the recipe once years ago and it being good. I started dinner earlier than normal expecting that with a new dish, it would take me twice as long or longer than it was supposed to according to the cookbook. It didn’t. I had dinner on the table by 5:30! I’ve since had to promise not to do that again, especially if I want to eat it on the back deck. The process was pretty simple, and I used a piping bag I had leftover from the period where my middle child loved cake decorating to pipe it out and snip into the boiling water. I topped it with a Genovese pesto sauce from a jar that I had in the pantry. It was not very pretty, but they were pillowy soft and delicious. The kid did not eat much…so I think the texture may have been a little soft for her, though she hasn’t learned to identify this particular taste quirk yet.

Tuesday (6/16), I made up a nice chicken salad using the rest of the grilled chicken. I didn’t have any grapes or dried cranberries, but the combination of apple, celery and onion gave it some nice light flavor. I ate it on some pita crackers, but the husband just scooped it up with a fork and ate it. I consider that a pretty good review. I went a little heavy on the pepper this time, but it was really good.

Wednesday (6/17) started with chicken breakfast sausage and cheese omelets for breakfast. I had diced up and frozen the chicken sausage several weeks ago, so it made for quick add in, and I just made one large four-egg omelet and split it between the hubby and I. I ate some of the chicken salad with an avocado for lunch, so I guess it was a pretty chicken-filled day.

I experimented with making a brioche bread in the instant pot using the air-fryer lid and the “bake” function. I used an egg wash and it came out very dark and crispy on top. But, the texture inside is great! I think I will play with it a little, add a little more egg and not do the egg wash and see what happens next time.

For dinner, I made a strawberry and quinoa poppy seed salad. It was delicious. The original recipe is from a Taste of Home cookbook I received recently, but I added the quinoa and reduced the sugar in the dressing. I have been wanting to try it and specifically ordered strawberries and romaine lettuce in my produce box this week. It was delicious. The kid has an issue with dressing. It isn’t even a taste thing. It’s one of those things where one time she had a dressing she didn’t like, and she is completely adverse to the topic. If you call it a dressing, she’s going to immediately throw up a stop sign, and there is no getting through. So, of course, she took one look and got snotty with “what is in this dressing” with that tone that makes you want to smack a kid. (Bear in mind, I would never smack a kid, we just all know we have that instant bristly feeling to certain tones. My husband and editor suggested I remove this part, but I think it’s important to acknowledge we have such feelings and the fact that we do not act on them is what makes us decent human beings.) In the end, she ate only a few bites even after she admitted the dressing tasted pretty good with the strawberries. I had hoped this salad might get her over that dressing block, but no dice.

Okay, so I started out this week’s little journal saying I had slowed on the cooking. I don’t think that is really true after I run through the list of things made or experimented with this week. In fact, I forgot to mention that on Wednesday, I also started more uncured bacon marinating! Transitioning to more summer cooking has been a bit of an adjustment, and I am sure it will be for a few more weeks, but the produce delivery really helps facilitate that process. I think I’ll be just fine.

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