The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 07.02.20

The original Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has now been amended twice.  The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:

You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store.  You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will always wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may wander up and down the aisles like you usually do (but do it quickly).  You no longer have to abide by the original “do not shower before going and decontaminate immediately upon return” section of the original decree.  The decontamination protocol is suspended for the time being but may be reinstated at any time in the future without advance notice.

When you return from the store you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away.  Place the bags of grocery items on top of the newspaper on top of the kitchen island.  Any and all paper and plastic bags will not be recycled.  They will go into the garbage along with the newspaper that covered the island surface.  Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting.  If you choose not to disinfect an item I must be informed of these items and agree not to touch them for 72 hours.

Don’t buy any more tuna.

The grocery store was not busy at 3:00 pm but busier than I expected.  I managed to find everything on my list.

  • Toilet paper and paper towels were well stocked.
  • Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was not.
  • Meat was plentiful.
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in ample supply.
  • Dairy, cheeses, eggs were well stocked.

But the best part of my shopping trip had nothing to do with food.  I estimated around 90% of the customers were wearing masks.  I only wish more of us would care more about the health of others and wear masks.  The number of grocery stores I shop at now is a short list.  The behavior of both store management and the customers pretty much determine where I shop.  As an example at the liquor store I’ve been shopping at for over 16 years  all of the employees wear masks.  If you decide to shop indoors you must wear a mask.  Despite the fact this store offers curbside minimal contact purchasing I like shopping in store.  Plus the times I’ve entered the store I’m typically the only customer there.  Apparently most of the other customers prefer curbside or delivery.

Stay safe.  Wear a mask.  Don’t go to these places or events:

Serious7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 05.02.20

The Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has not been allowed to expire.   The order however was amended.  The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:

“You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store.  You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will continue to wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may 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 (and don’t use my bar of soap, use your body wash).”

The grocery store was less of a scavenger hunt this week.  There were still some empty shelves but I managed to buy most of the items on my list.  With all of the supply chain issues still ongoing I didn’t know what to expect.  Here are my observations from this morning.  Bear in mind your specific locale may be a lot different.

  • Toilet paper and paper towels were back in stock (limited brand choices and limited supply).
  • Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was empty.
  • Meat was plentiful.  Those creepy scary pictures of empty meat cases you see online?  That was not a problem here.
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in good supply (except zucchini and I wanted some zucchini).
  • Frozen french fries were available (another internet horror story of shortages).
  • Dairy, cheeses, eggs absolutely well stocked.

Retails prices on meat are creeping upwards.  So while the supplies are plentiful I picked up a few extra items for the freezer.  Last week I found frozen turkeys for $0.49 a pound so I have a ten pound bird in the freezer.  Here is my Pandemic Pantry Freezer Supply:

  • The turkey
  • Three or four loaves of garlic bread (one might be five cheese bread)
  • Rolls
  • Several loaves of whole grain bread
  • Two deep dish pie shells
  • Spinach and potato pirogies
  • Spinach and cheese ravioli
  • Cheese tortellini
  • Corn, peas, spinach, butternut squash
  • Two packages ground turkey
  • Chicken breasts
  • Two packages top blade beef
  • Two small sirloin steaks

So now between the canned/dried pantry items, freezer items, and fresh finds when found we should be OK even if the excrement hits the rotating blades.  I can shop at two stores a week.  I had already bought some items at my first allowed grocery stop two days ago (because someone in the house tosses dairy on the expiration date and we needed ice cream).

I’ve been even more diligent about keeping my food waste low since the pandemic started, since our visits to the grocery store are few and far between. So when I was taking stock of what was on hand the other day, the puzzle pieces started to move into place in my head…

Beth at https://www.budgetbytes.com/about/

It’s comforting to know your thoughts are shared by others during the Greater Depression.   I have definitely reduced the amount of food waste in our household.  Shopping trips for grocery items are definitely reduced in number and some trips will be bountiful while other trips less so.  Nice to know I’m not the only cook who stares at “the puzzle pieces” to figure out what to make.

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The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 04.26.20

In case you missed last week’s Pandemic Pantry post I have copied over the household Executive Order:

“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.”

So I guess you could say I was surprised this morning when The Boss said,

“You can go to two stores today.”

Two stores!  I was pretty excited!  This modern day scavenger hunt had a greater chance of success.  Two stores!  I was so excited I forgot my mask.  No worries though.  I used the disposable mask in the car and disposed of it after my trip.  I remembered my list, wallet, phone, keys, and disinfectant wipes.  It was time to start the hunt.

My first stop was the big box drugstore on the corner where I found both toilet paper and paper towels.  I hadn’t purchased either of these paper goods in over a month.  The drugstore had a few packages remaining on the shelves.  I asked one of the employees if there was a purchase limit.  Two she said.  So in addition to vitamins, allergy meds and a nail buffer I scored two giant packages of TP and PT.  If I found nothing at my second stop the shopping trip/hunt would have been a success.

Store #2 was the grocery store.  My list was a short list but this was a scavenger hunt.  What could I find that I might have use for later?  The broccoli crowns were not the freshest but I bought some anyway.  Green beans, a few apples, strawberries, new potatoes and a head of green leaf lettuce, one Roma tomato, one green pepper.  No mushrooms.  I bought the best two in the bulk mushroom bin and left around six for other shoppers.  Tortillas, check.  Whole wheat buns and two loaves of garlic bread, check.  A bag of frozen spinach and ricotta raviolis.  A dozen eggs for $0.99 (the last dozen cost $3.33).  Some cheese.  A back up jar of salsa, a back up jar of fruit spread.

I was about to call the hunt over and a success when I found frozen turkeys for $0.49 a pound (it’s the item under bananas).  For under five bucks I got a 10 pound turkey.

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So tonight’s dinner was meatloaf, mashed and fresh wilted spinach.  I also picked up some ground beef since many of the remaining meat items didn’t appeal to me.

Two stores!  Paper towels AND toilet paper!  A whole turkey for less than five dollars!  And I didn’t have to shop with the old people.

 

 

 

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.

Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs

I was at the grocery store this past weekend and found sweet Italian Sausage and Aged Angus Ground Beef both on sale for $3 a pound.

I’ll have a pound of each please.

When I got home I started thinking about what to make with a pound of Italian sausage and a pound of ground beef.  Meatballs!
Toss these into some Tomato Sauce 2.  You really didn’t want a vegetarian meal anyway.

Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs

1 lb ground beef (80/20)

1 lb sweet mild Italian sausage, bulk

Leftover Italian or French bread, coarsely chopped

Milk

1 egg

1 cup Parmesan cheese

White wine

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the coarsely chopped Italian bread with just enough milk to moisten.  Beat in the egg, add a pinch of oregano or basil (optional) and incorporate the Parmesan cheese.
  2. Mix in the meats and blend well.  Chill for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Form 1.5 – 2 inch meatballs and spread evenly in a roasting pan large enough so that the meatballs don’t touch one another.
  5. Add a little white wine and water to the bottom of the roasting pan and bake the meatballs for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Cool and drain the meatballs on paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible.
  7. Toss into Tomato Sauce 2 and simmer for two hours.
  8. Serve over pasta or make into sandwiches.

 

Tips – note the basil and oregano are optional.  Go light on the herbs and spices because any Italian sausage you buy will already be seasoned well, and perhaps salted fairly well also.  When using sausage in meatballs, you won’t need a lot of additional spices.  When I was younger, I fried my meatballs.  Nowadays I prefer roasting my meatballs in the oven with a little wine.

Tomato Sauce 2

Tomato Sauce 2

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1 28 oz can tomatoes, puree
1 28 oz can tomatoes, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Brown sugar

  1. Heat olive oil in an 8 quart stock pot.
  2. Saute the carrot, onion, and celery until limp.
  3. Add garlic, mushrooms, basil, and oregano.  Saute for another minute.
  4. Add both cans of tomatoes, simmer for 30-45 minutes.

 

This sauce recipe is a rough adaptation from the cookbook Cooking From an Italian Garden by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen.  The cookbook contains Italian vegetarian recipes (long story here).  I’ve served this sauce on pasta and it’s OK.  But rather than use this sauce as is, I’ve always used it as the base for my version of Sunday Gravy.  My family never really cared for giant chunks of animal protein in their sauce.  So Tomato Sauce 2 became my base for meatballs and sausage.

Tips – salt and pepper to taste.  Use sugar only if the tomatoes are overly acidic.  You’ll be glad you used an 8 quart pot once you toss in the meatballs.  Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs

Italian Meatloaf

Italian Meatloaf

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
2 pounds ground beef (or 1 pound ground turkey and 1 pound beef)
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs (Italian or Panko)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and cool.
  3. When the peppers and onions are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together.
  4. Form the meat mixture into 2 loaf (brain) shapes on an oiled oven tray or baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

 

When the kids were little I never made meatloaf.  They hated meatloaf.  When I was growing up as a kid my parents never made meatloaf.  I hated meatloaf.

Time passes, people change, tastes change.  I guess decades of going meatloaf-less made me want meatloaf more.  I only started making meatloaf when MedFed began.  MedFed is the code name for meals that freeze well that can be defrosted, heated up, and eaten by time starved medical school students who would quite frankly probably eat anything you put in front of them.  The only problem with my new found meatloaf craving was finding the perfect recipe.

This recipe is adapted from the Food Network’s Michael Chiarello.  It’s tasty, simple, and hearty.  Serve this up with some loaded mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

TIP – The recipe will make two meatloaves.  There’s nothing better than a cold meatloaf sandwich the next day.  I’ve also heard rumors that you can chop up this leftover meatloaf, heat it up in some marinara sauce, and serve over pasta.  Sounds like something a medical school student would do.

Substituting dried for fresh herbs is OK.  I usually make this with a mixture of beef and turkey.  85/15 is good.  Don’t use ground turkey breast, use regular ground turkey.