The Pandemic Pantry – Election Week Update- 11.08.20

Sunday 11/8

To be honest I’ve not paid much attention to the Covid-19 numbers very much for quite some time. Yesterday though, the numbers caught my attention:

Holy Crap Batman!

My initial reaction was shock. But my thoughts quickly came back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down.  I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and it is not intended to be THE LIST to follow.  (At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.) IMO there are several reasons to keep your pantry well stocked:

  • government mandated lock downs.
  • self-imposed periods of sheltering in place either from direct exposure to an infected individual, becoming infected or living with an infected person, rampant uncontrolled viral spread in your community and/or social unrest.
  • Panic buying/hoarding.
  • Supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 outbreaks at various points in the supply chain and/or panic buying behavior.

We just survived the worst ice storm imaginable and several days without electricity teaches you a thing or two. So I’ve started a list of non-food pantry items which over time will consist of stuff you need to have around when the lights go out. My shopping the past several months included picking up one of this and one of that to build up and back up the pantry. So here’s what the Pandemic Pantry looks like today with the supply on hand in parenthesis. Zero = no backup.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 11.08.20

  • Mayo (1) Mustard (0) Salsa (1) Ketchup (0)
  • Pickles (1)
  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed (8)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)
  • Brown and white sugar (0 and 1)
  • Bay leaves, dried oregano, basil, and parsley (0)
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Salt (1) and black pepper (0)
  • Baking powder, baking soda, corn starch (0)
  • Parmesan cheese (1)
  • Bread crumbs (plain, Panko, seasoned) (1)
  • Dried pastas (10 lbs)
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry (5 lbs)
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy (10)
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken (3)
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white (6 lbs)
  • Flour and corn tortillas (0)
  • Wheat germ (1)
  • COFFEE ground (0) — K-cups (50ish)
  • COFFEE FILTERS (0) — I suggest owning a single cup drip cone.
  • Tea (120 tea bags all green decaf plus a few normal ones for me)
  • Nuts (1)
  • All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Canned tuna (6)
  • Canned green chilies (1)
  • Oats (0)
  • Cornmeal (0)
  • Dried fruits (1)
  • Whole grain and fruit/nut bars (20ish)
  • Dry cereals and granola (0)
  • Crackers (3)
  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.) (1)
  • Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.) (3)
  • Peanut butter (2)
  • Jelly and/or fruit spread (1)
  • Glenmorangie 10 and 14 Single Malt Scotch (2)

Non-food Items Paper

  • Paper towels (66 double rolls)
  • Toilet paper (56 double and MEGA rolls)
  • Tissues (16)
  • Napkins (2 small, 2 large packs)

Hopefully you’ll find this list useful. Personally while updating the list I’ve thought of items to add to this list and to my shopping list. Stay safe, stay well.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

I’ll post the recipe if they taste good.

Update 09.14.20

Well I pulled one off the griddle and tried it. I froze the rest and heated one up for lunch today. It was good…but not great hence the RIP (recipe in progress) tag. I made a sandwich on whole wheat and swirled some Sriracha mayo on it and the burger tasted better than last night. The burger is missing something and we’ll just leave this as a RIP and keep experimenting. Definitely needs more heat. Maybe some corn kernels to balance the heat. I’m also thinking of fresh onion and garlic, not the powders which would make this burger less of a pantry mash up but oh well. Here’s where we stand today.

Update 10.08.20

I ate the last of probably five or six of these “burgers” which were in the freezer. The good news is they freeze well and taste OK. The bad news is they taste just OK so now this recipe is being retired. RIP now stands for Rest in Peace. I’ve decided they are not very “burger-like” and more like sweet potato and black bean cakes with herbs and spices. This is the final update as this recipe goes up on the shelf along with any recipes from The Stack Project – Lasagne Stack Update 04.15.15. The Stack Project contained just one experiment Lasagne Stacks which also were just OK.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp apiece – dried chives, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

I’ll add preparation instructions once I figure out how to make this burger taste better.

The Pandemic Pantry – Forgotten Items and Disappearing Social Skills – 06.07.20

The shortages at the grocery stores have abated.  And to be honest I’ve gotten lazy at stocking the pantry since I’ve been able to find and buy pretty much most of the items on my list on shopping days.  But with more supply chain disruptions to come in the future,  shortages from sporadic bouts of hoarding behavior and more stress baking I continue to stock my pantry.  And I’ve come to realize I haven’t updated my pantry list in nearly two months.  The tipping point?  I ran out of coffee, a monumental threat to my continued existence.  So I started an add on list of forgotten items.  Added together this comprises the first update to my Pandemic Pantry list in weeks.

One byproduct of sheltering in place I’ve noticed on my shopping trip was the literal disappearance of social skills in some individuals.  Some people have forgotten how to behave in group social settings.  Here’s a short list of my encounters today:

  • Woman in the produce section stopping right in front of me in the middle of the aisle blocking passage while responding to something on her phone.
  • Another woman stopping in the middle of an aisle leaving her cart on one side while she blocked passage standing on the other side of the aisle.
  • Husband and wife having a discussion at the beginning of an aisle blocking access or passage to the aisle completely and…(wait for it)
  • The jackass who squeezed right in front of me as I was reaching for an item to pick something off the shelf for himself.

None of these rude, selfish and inconsiderate people were wearing masks.  None of these shoppers respected social (physical) distancing.  I’m now considering buying a set of scrubs to wear along with my mask when food shopping.  (I’ve heard stories that others will avoid you completely if you’re wearing scrubs.)  It looks like I’ll probably be resorting to shopping during the Old People Hour because I know the oldies will be mask wearers and keep their distance.

 

Sorry for the mini-rant.  But when you have a family member on the healthcare front line all of this matters a lot to me.  Some people understand the pandemic isn’t over.  The good news for the folks I tried not to get too close to today is we have plenty of ICU bed space available in our state.

Anyway, back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down.  By now y’all have probably figured out that I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and is not intended to be The List to follow.  At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 04.18.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour and corn tortillas

The Forgotten Ones

  • COFFEE !!! (consider a small jar of freeze dried also in case of emergency)
  • Tea
  • Nuts
  • All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned green chiles
  • Oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole grain and fruit/nut bars
  • Dry cereals and granola
  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.)
  • Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly and/or fruit spread

 

Americans may wish the virus to be gone, but it is not. While the outbreak has eased in the Northeast, driving down the overall national numbers, cases have only plateaued in the rest of the country, and they appear to be on the rise in recent days in COVID Tracking Project data. Twenty-two states reported 400 or more new cases Friday, and 14 other states and Puerto Rico reported cases in the triple digits. Several states—including Arizona, North Carolina, and California—are now seeing their highest numbers of known cases.

America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry -Basic Corn and Bean Salad – 04.18.20

The look on my face must have revealed my aching soul. Maybe it was the numerous trips to the pantry or the multiple freezer checks. We had plenty of food to survive on but nothing I really wanted or cared to eat. The truth was I needed to cook. I needed some fresh foods to cook with. Ultimately she relented.

“You can go to the store and shop with the old people. You will wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You will not wander up and down the aisles like you usually do. You will not shower before going. When you come back you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. The plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage. You will then go into the laundry room where you will strip down and put your clothes into the washing machine. Then and only then you go to our bathroom to decontaminate.”

Senior Time at the grocery store is 7-8:00 AM. There were not many shoppers. The customers were all wearing masks, some had both masks and gloves on. But most of the employees were not wearing any masks or gloves. We know the mask wearing thing is more about not spreading virus if you’re infected and less effective for personal protection (though the latest scientific guidance is that masks do offer some level of personal protection). So is setting a specific time for a high risk group to shop at the same time and NOT have employees wear masks smart? It would take just one infected worker and s(he) could take out a number of the oldies. Just a thought. But everyone in the store respected each other’s space and kept their appropriate physical distance.

We began sheltering in place behavior one week before our state formally declared a shutdown. Minus two days in Owasso, Oklahoma (the trip was taken with the expectation a lock down would be ordered) we have been home for a month. Welcome to The Pandemic Greater Depression. At our home we are fortunate to both have jobs. Many, many others are not as fortunate and the road ahead will be hard. Despite the fact we have a roof over our heads and food on the table the new era Depression mentality has set in. I call the new mindset Forced Frugality.   The grocery store trip was interesting.  Some of the supply chain issues are resolved and the shelves look better.  Still no paper products and some of the shortages (like frozen pizza) are just plain strange.  There were arrows on the floor in an attempt to direct traffic.  I learned that some people don’t know how to follow arrows.  And despite clear instructions not to wander the aisles I pretty much went down every aisle because you never know what you’re going to find (or not find).  I found this:

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$0.59 for organic dark red kidney beans and $0.84 for organic corn!

Today’s lunch side was a simple corn and bean salad.  Here it is.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 celery rib, tiny dice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, tiny dice
  • garlic powder
  • pinch or two dried basil
  • a splash of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can organic dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder and basil in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Adjust your seasonings.  Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add your vegetables and beans.  Stir and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice.
  5. Serve as a side dish or over some fresh greens.  This size recipe makes around four servings.

Tips

Sugar is only needed to counteract the acidity in the dressing.  You might not need nor want any sugar at all.  I wanted to put some red bell pepper into this dish but there were none to be found at the store.

Here’s a list of pantry items.  Hopefully you have many if not all on hand as we shelter in place.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.18.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas and corn tortillas

Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

And if you do venture out of the house wear a mask.

img_1959

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup

img_1950

She Who Must Be Obeyed reminded me again this morning of her Executive Order.  Last night’s dinner was a UFO (unidentified frozen object) that thankfully turned out to be chili.  And with some leftover cornbread from the freezer I was once again in compliance with the order to “clean out the freezer”.   A part of her Executive Order limits me to one grocery trip a week (with a mask, disinfectant wipes, and one store only).  This week’s trip was a calculated gamble on one of those tiny grocery sections housed within a burger/ice cream joint whose name will not be divulged for fear of possible legal action after they hear about this post.

Bad gamble.  I managed to find just five of the nearly 20 items on my list.  I did find some fresh spinach that wasn’t on the list.  A tiny win but I’ll take it.  This is going to be a tough week.  Less fresh foods and a heavier reliance upon pantry items and any remaining UFO’s.

I sauntered into my pantry multiple times and opened the freezer multiple times before I figured out what to make for lunch.  My flash of inspiration came from the jars of beans on the kitchen counter.  I had completely forgotten about the lentils.

Until today.  Here’s my Lentil Soup recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 very large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • garlic powder
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water and 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (approximate)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot, onion and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle thyme and garlic powder over the vegetables in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add lentils and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Drop the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils need more liquid.  Add one cup water and continue to simmer.
  5. Check and stir frequently.  Add either more water or broth to suit your taste.
  6. Adjust your seasonings.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer for a total time of around one hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Serves four.
  9. Or two if you eat half, save the rest for another meal and eat sandwiches/tacos using leftover fillings from the freezer

Tips

Over time I’ve learned how important technique can be for turning out tasty food.  Note the chicken broth is used first, then water.  For a cup of dried lentils you will need about a quart of liquid.  I start with chicken broth (you can sub vegetable broth) and allow the lentils to absorb the broth, then add one cup of water.  The amount of additional liquid will depend upon your personal preferences.  My approach is to add additional broth slowly after the 2 cups broth, one cup water.  Most times I never approach a full quart of liquid.  I like my lentil soup thick.

That half of a fresh onion didn’t sit around long because I made Pete’s Fried Rice without any broccoli.  Instead of broccoli I used half of a green cabbage sliced into strips.  The fried rice turned out just fine.  You have to be flexible nowadays and don’t waste anything.

Here’s my updated list of pantry items.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.06.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas

Stay safe, stay well.

I think I bought too many bay leaves though.

img_1949-1

 

 

Badass Black Eyed Peas

chili madness

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers.  Every year I always say to myself,

“Self.  You need to write the recipe down.”

And each and every year I forget.  This year however is different.  A friend asked for the recipe.  So I actually sat my butt down into my chair and started writing.  I think my 2020 version of this recipe is better than in years gone by.  But I can’t be absolutely certain because I never wrote down any other versions of this annual bean concoction.  What I am certain of is the 2020 version is Badass.

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • The beans needs to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times.
  • Everyone in the pool.  I don’t cook the beans separately for this dish.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  Don’t try to make this a chili because it’s not chili.

So now that you know not to call these beans a chili here’s how to make it Badass.

4 slices center cut bacon
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each smoked paprika, chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T cumin
1 qt low sodium chicken broth
3 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground turkey 85/15
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans. Change the soaking water at least twice.
  3. In a large stock pot fry the bacon in the olive oil until the strips are crisp and the fat is rendered.
  4. Saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened about five minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  5. Add the turkey and brown, breaking up the clumps as you go.
  6. Toss everything else into the pool.  Spices, tomato paste, broth, and beans.
  7. The black eyed peas should be drained and the chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  8. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  9. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  10. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  11. Yum.  Makes about 10-12 servings.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  There is plenty of salt in the chili powder and broth so salt last.  As you adjust the seasonings you may want to add more chili powder and/or oregano.  I tend to use garlic powder (my less than top secret favorite flavor enhancer).

This dish tastes better on day two.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

This recipe is not in the book pictured above.  But I like the cover and I’m hoping the author gets the hint.

For my vegan and vegetarian readers this dish is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  Feel free to make your own veggie version with a nice organic vegetable or mushroom broth.

Three Bean Chili Madness

chili madness

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • This chili cooks all day long but I didn’t use a slow cooker.  It was a cold day and I was hunkered down in the house.
  • The beans get an overnight soak and are cooked separately first for several hours.
  • You make beans first then add the beans to the meats.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this is very mild.  You add your own heat at serving time.

So now that you know this is a pain in the rump recipe (time wise) here we go.

1 T extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp each oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, dried cilantro
1 can (15 oz) no salt diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) low sodium chicken broth

1 small can mild green chilies
3 T tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 C each dry Mayocoba beans, pinto beans, and light red kidney beans
1 lb grass fed ground beef 80/20
1 lb ground turkey
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans.  Bring to a boil, add your soup recipe seasonings, then lower the heat down to a simmer.  The seasoning for the beans is based off my Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal soup recipe.  Substitute the three bean mix for the 100% pintos and leave out the tomatoes until later.  (No salt and the chili powder is also a no salt variety).
  3. Allow the beans to simmer for several hours.
  4. In a different large stock pot heat the oil and saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened.
  5. Add the meats and brown.
  6. Add red wine and cook off the alcohol.
  7. Time to toss everyone else into the pool.  Spices, tomatoes, chilies, broth, beans.
  8. Simmer for several hours.  Stir occasionally.  Add more water or broth if the chili gets too thick.
  9. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  10. Yum.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  The Mayocobo beans will break apart and make this chili creamy and thick (unless you add more broth or water).  The recipe will make approximately eight servings.  I used chicken broth instead of beef broth because I thought I had beef broth in the cupboard, looked and did not find it.  I found the beef broth the next day.  The package was sideways and I didn’t see it.  I used both ground beef and ground turkey because I didn’t buy enough ground beef and the meat to bean ratio was wrong.  I had ground turkey so I used it.  And that’s how this recipe turned into a beef and bird chili.

This recipe is not in the book pictured.  Lucky you.

Herrera’s Bean Soup

The Boss is gone this weekend.  There was a sister get together and I wasn’t invited.  The Boss is a worrier.  She frets about leaving me home alone for the weekend.  I say worry not.  There’s simply something that must be done when The Boss is gone.

Make beans.  This weekend’s mini-project was to recreate the free cup of pinto bean soup you got with every meal at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants.  I know the location we frequented in Carrollton Texas has closed.  Many of the chain’s locations have boarded up and I’m not sure if any have survived.  The Doctor always ordered 13b double beans, no rice.  Each family member has fond memories of the food.  I’m fairly certain there was plenty of lard but we’ll never know for sure.

I started with my basic Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal and used bacon slices to saute the vegetables.  Instead of the canned tomatoes I used a commercially bottled Salsa Casera medium from Mexico (seriously, this should have nailed it).

Nope.  The beans taste exactly like my pinto bean soup with bacon and some spicy tomatoes.  I have failed to replicate Herrera’s bean soup.

Now if I could just find out the brand of hot canned jalapenos Herrera’s used…