Quarantine Week 15

As states open more and ours, in particular, continue to see rising case numbers, we are not any more inclined to join the masses who seem to be pretending the pandemic is over. I empathize with business owners who are having to make tough decisions once again on how and when to reopen. I lean toward supporting those that are more cautious about the process, but I cannot really convince myself to actually go into a restaurant that has indoor dining, even to pick up a carry out order. So, our quarantine journey continues.

Thursday (7/2) started with blueberry steel cut oats in the instant pot again. I used a little more water and allow the oats to naturally release 12 minutes this time. They came out much thicker and the husband actually ate his entire bowl, which these days is a major success. He’s been struggling with appetite just due to pandemic life stress lately. He and I ended up eating the last of the leftover corned beef and potatoes and snacking on some odds and ends for dinner.

Friday (7/3), I took some of the leftover pork roast and diced it up and made a nice salad for lunch. My husband had the day off for Independence Day since it fell on a Saturday, so we slept a bit later and then had a nice lazy day.

For dinner, I decided I had chicken legs out and thawed and the kiddo rarely eats much here for dinner after she returns from her Mom’s, so I decided I was not going to focus our dinner around a vegetarian dish. I fried up those chicken legs using a batter made by combining bread flour and corn meal, as I did not have any AP flour. I served them with the leftover farfalle with spinach, tomatoes and cheese and a side of creamed peas. The creamed peas were the star of the show, evidently. My husband took seconds of the peas over another chicken leg, and that man loves his fried chicken. The kid actually had seconds of the pasta and ate all her peas, much to my surprise.

Saturday (7/4), I gave the kid a choice of eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, and she picked the oatmeal. I cooked for the same amount of time and used the same amount of liquid, but they came out runnier. My husband likes them less runny. The only difference was that I let it natural release 8 minutes instead of 12. Let that be a lesson. With oats, the amount of natural release time makes a big difference in the final product. I did, however, use heavy cream instead of milk to finish them, and I thought that aspect was much better.

Because it was the 4th, we had to grill out for dinner. Even if all the parties and get-togethers and our annual trip to the lakefront to watch fireworks were cancelled, I wanted to have a cook out of our own. So I grilled basil garlic polenta, some red bell peppers, jalapenos, and some jumbo shrimp on skewers. I also made some black beans in the instant pot. I blended up one of the bell peppers with some roasted jalapeno (seeds removed), shallots, salt, garlic and mayonnaise to make a very delicious roasted red pepper dip. I didn’t even get a picture of the shrimp we ate them so fast! The kid ate the piece of polenta, sans the sauce and her roasted pepper. She balked at the black beans, saying that she likes them soupier. I laughed because she eats the beans and leaves the broth in black bean soup. However, once I told her she would have to eat something more to get dessert, she finished off every last black bean. She could have asked for more polenta or roasted bell pepper, which she likes very much. But no, she ate the beans! Yay protein! She got chocolate ice cream as a reward!

Sunday (7/5), I woke up for some unknown reason feeling tense and frustrated and stressed. I cannot explain except that I’d had some really weird and unsettling dreams, and I just couldn’t shake the negative feelings. So, I didn’t bother making breakfast. I had thawed some apple cinnamon muffins out for the weekend, so the kid had those and blueberries. I think the husband only ate a blueberry cereal bar.

But for dinner I made bbq pork from some leftover smoked pork I had frozen and Katie had thawed just prior to leaving. I also made more creamed peas because my husband just loves them. Eating dinner was interesting because the kittens have forced us to be civilized. Usually when it is just him and I, we eat in the living room in front of the TV. However, that is a severe challenge with kittens who think they are entitled to everything we eat or drink, even though they had just eaten. So we had a nice sit-down dinner at the table together.

Monday (7/6), I got up and made some fried eggs and toasted English muffins for the hubby and I. Then I did a grocery order from our local grocery for curbside pick up. We needed a few staples, like eggs, and I have skipped our food delivery service two weeks in a row because the main reason I started it was the ability to get things like eggs, and they haven’t had them as much with restaurants reopening. We use a service that focuses on eliminating food waste, so they were getting a lot of eggs when restaurants were closed. Anyway, I was able to get more chicken and pork products since my freezer supply was actually getting low. Well, low for my comfort. We have plenty, but I like having a pretty good variety, especially since we do not really do delivery or carry out much.

For dinner, I had planned to make tempeh tacos. I picked up a few extra ingredients like pico de gallo on our grocery order just for the occasion. Unfortunately, the kid’s mom decided they would bake homemade pretzels late in the afternoon and fed her a pretzel before delivering her just before our normal dinner time. I was frustrated but decided to make the best of it. Instead of tempeh, I made beef taco meat, as that is my husband’s and I’s preference. I also made refried black beans using the leftovers from Saturday. I reheated some grilled polenta for the kid as a main course, and the hubby and I had some excellent tacos. I also made some jicama slaw. The slaw was pretty good as a crunchy texture in the tacos, but I did not really like it separately. I had never had jicama, so it was a total experiment. Now I have to figure out what to do with the remainder of it.

Tuesday (7/7) began with a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and some kiwi slices. The kiddo doesn’t usually take well to scrambled eggs, but she was so distracted by how cute the new kittens were trying to get to the table (they think they should get to eat their meals and ours too) that she actually ate most of it. I call that a win. For dinner, the husband and I just reheated some chili we had in the freezer. I know most people think chili is for fall and winter, but I can eat it any time.

Wednesday (7/8) I remembered that I had breakfast sausage marinating, so I made up some sausage patties and made us sausage, cheese and English muffin sandwiches. Mine don’t quite taste like a McMuffin, but they are probably more healthy for you.

For dinner, I decided to make an instant pot mac ‘n cheese. I used cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago and Monterey jack cheeses. It came out delicious, though I think I would use heavy cream instead of milk next time as I like the sauce a little thicker. I served it with sweet peas as I like mixing them into my mac ‘n cheese.

I feel like the cooking was a little less bold, creative or adventurous this week. The weather is terrible, and the stress created by changes in our lives due to pandemic kind of got to me. I wrote a separate blog on that if you are interested. But we keep rolling on and adjusting to the “new normal” which seems to be an ever-changing thing. And I have been picking up some new ingredients to experiment with and getting a little more in touch with my grill and instant pot, so hopefully, more creativity and kitchen adventures will be forthcoming.

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