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.

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The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup

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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.

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The Pandemic Pantry – Basic Quick Tomato Sauce

 

“We’re cleaning out the freezer.  We have plenty of leftovers to eat up.”

…said She Who Must Be Obeyed.  Since this Executive Order was issued the frozen stockpile of meals has been gradually dwindling.  Last night’s dinner was a mash up meal that used some leftover frozen ricotta/chicken/spinach filling and a freshly made Alfredo sauce.  The leftover ricotta filling was the result of making far too much for cannelloni a few weeks ago.  Then last night I made too much Farfalle and now I’m staring at the reality of having leftover leftovers for lunch today.

So I thought to myself, Self…wouldn’t this be good with some tomato sauce?  Of course I answered to myself and went to an old favorite cookbook for inspiration.  My quick tomato sauce is inspired by a recipe from:

Cooking from an Italian Garden Paperback –
by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen

Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Harvest Books (November 15, 1985)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0156225921
ISBN-13: 978-0156225922

But as I have discovered over the years I’ve accidentally created my own recipe.  Here it is.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, tiny dice
  • 1 small carrot, tiny dice
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch dried basil
  • pinch dried parsley
  • a splash of white wine
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can organic stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle the herbs and vegetable powders in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add a splash of wine to de-glaze the pan.
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Drop the heat down to low.
  6. When the tomatoes start to soften begin crushing them with the flat side of a wooden spoon.
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  8. Adjust your seasonings.  Add sugar.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve over leftover leftovers (freshly made pasta works too).

Tips

Sugar is only needed to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.  You might not need any sugar at all.  I wanted to use as many pantry items as possible.  If you feel you can spare a fresh onion or fresh clove of garlic, use them.  The wine is a luxury but can probably be eliminated if you don’t have an open bottle in the fridge. Taste as you go because stewed tomatoes are sweeter than plain canned tomatoes and come already seasoned.

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

Pandemic Pantry Items

  • 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
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas

Stay safe, stay well.

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower Frittata

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Sometimes you have odds and ends in the fridge.   This was the inspiration for Scraps Frittata which in the end turned out fine.  The other night at a bring a dish dinner I was asked to bring some Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan for a side veggie.  Our gracious host well known for his blunt honesty said,

“Maybe we shouldn’t have microwaved the cauliflower.  The texture was different.”

I agreed.  The veggie was kind of mushy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have made the cauliflower earlier, covered the dish with aluminum foil, then microwaved it for serving.  This veggie is obviously best served immediately from the oven.

Our host who does not like leftovers besides Good Pie didn’t want the rest of the veggie so I took it back home.  What do you do with about 3 cups of leftover mushy roasted cauliflower? 

  • 2 T EV olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion diced
  • 2 C red potatoes small dice
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan
  • shredded sharp Cheddar cheese about a cup
  • shredded Monterrey Jack cheese about a half cup
  • Parmesan cheese grated, a couple of Tablespoons
  • Dried thyme, healthy pinch
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in an 10 inch non-stick pan.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook until nearly cooked through, about 10-15  minutes medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and saute for five minutes.
  4. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spread the cauliflower over the potato/onion mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the cheeses over the veggies.
  7. Beat the eggs.  Pour over the vegetable mixture.
  8. Preheat your broiler.
  9. Allow the frittata to sit over a very low flame until set.
  10. Place the pan under the broiler to brown the top.
  11. Remove from the broiler and place the frittata on a serving plate.
  12. Serve warm or cold.  Makes about 6 servings.
  13. Yum.

21 Cheap Family Meals – Healthy Vegetarian Budget Food — Hurry The Food Up

21 Cheap Family Meals – Healthy Vegetarian Budget Food It’s not always easy to cook for families, especially as a vegan or vegetarian. It often gets expensive, too. To help out, we’ve compiled a collection of our favourite cheap family meals. As well as being budget and wallet-friendly, each of these recipes does something else…

via 21 Cheap Family Meals – Healthy Vegetarian Budget Food — Hurry The Food Up

This article appeared in my WordPress reader and I thought it was worth sharing the link.  I have not made nor tested any of the recipes.  Yet.

I’m only two pounds heavier after two Thanksgiving meals.

But I have to wear my “fat” jeans because my “skinny” jeans are too tight.

Thus the search for veggie recipes.

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan

What do you do when you want to surprise your friends with a new dish?  You think of something that they probably never had, never thought they would like, and make it.  You sneak it in as a side dish.  Serve it with something familiar like Maple Soy Roasted Salmon.  You make…

Hipster food.  And if you’re thinking to yourself that cauliflower can’t possibly be hip and trendy I actually found a restaurant that has whole head roasted on their menu for seven bucks.

Here’s what I made:

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan

One head cauliflower
Extra virgin olive oil
Granulated garlic
Dried thyme
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Remove the green outer leaves and stalks from the cauliflower head. Tear and cut the cauliflower into florets, removing any hard tiny stalks. Each piece should be about a US quarter in width. Golf ball size is too big.
  3. Place the florets into a baking/roasting pan with sides.
  4. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Toss with a wooden spoon. You want a nice thin coating of oil on each piece.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper and sprinkle with a hint of thyme.
  6. Generously sprinkle granulated garlic over all.
  7. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes. Shake the pan every 10 minutes or so to ensure most of the surfaces of each floret get browned (this is why you want a pan with sides).
  8. When nicely browned add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese over the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and add more Parmesan.
  10. Eat.

 

Unfortunately this dish is Not Tiny Taste Tester Approved.  She was not present at the dinner.

“What is a Collie Flower?”

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Tiny Taste Tester

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Meet my Tiny Taste Tester.  This post started as a Risotto recipe but somewhere I got off topic (I’ll return to risotto later).  When The Boss learned this Tiny Human was coming to the house for a weekend visit she got quite excited.  Then the orders began.

“Go to the store and buy some baby food.”

So I did just that.  Little did we realize that this small person was not limited to the mush you buy in jars and pouches.  We quickly began to realize our guest had worldly taste buds.  OK…back to risotto.  On most days I do a scan of what’s on hand and start thinking about what to make for dinner. When I gave The Boss a few options the other day  her reply was:

“Risotto.  You have never made risotto.”

I think I made risotto once but failed miserably.  But when I made risotto this past week it turned out pretty good.  When a cook makes something she has never made (or maybe just once and failed) and the dish turns out well you just can’t stop talking about it.  And when the father of the Tiny Human heard the story he asked for risotto for dinner.
So I thought to myself, I can do this even if I’ve only made it once successfully.

Last night the crawler got to sample my vegetable risotto.  We think she liked it because she asked for more.  Today the small person sampled Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes.  When The Boss was eating her breakfast the Tiny Human crawled over and delivered her “more” sign, a small yet effective means of communication for the less vocally inclined.

Did I mention I can now make risotto?  Tiny Taste Tester Approved.

 

 

 

 

Frenchy’s Citrus Gazpacho

“Send pictures of the Tiny Human.”

“Only if you send me your Citrus Gazpacho recipe.”

The exchange was made and Frenchy’s recipe follows:


CITRUS GAZPACHO

For 6 Cups


  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBLS white wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups orange juice
  • zest and fruit of 1 orange-remove the peel and pith
  • zest and fruit of 1 pink grapefruit-remove the peel and pith
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to your taste


Instead of using fresh tomatoes which you must boil for 20 seconds, then dunk in ice water to stop the cooking, cool, peel, then dice-you can use a can of diced tomatoes.
Use an immersion blender or container blender to mix the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, orange and grapefruit zest. Puree.  Pour over the cucumbers, peppers, onion, orange and grapefruit, olive oil and seasonings.
This is best when it has been refrigerated overnight.  Top with fresh cut basil before serving.  A few pomegranate seeds in each serving for color.
Beautiful in martini or cocktail glasses as a starter.
Historical Note for Family and Friends
Frenchy is a real person and our friendship predates my marriage to The Boss.  When the Doctor and the Architect were tiny humans themselves we would have wonderful meals at Frenchy’s.  I’m positive I’ve had this gazpacho but at my age I can’t remember when.  Enjoy!

 

Veggie Burgers #2

Revised 03.11.18

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ, untoasted
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ, toasted
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup riced cauliflower
  • 1 medium onion, carmelized
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 medium zucchini shredded
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or trans-fat free margarine
  • 4 hamburger buns

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs.
  2. Stir in wheat germ, cheese, caramelized onion, garlic powder, thyme.
  3. Place the shredded zucchini in the middle of two paper towels.  Fold the paper towels over and gently squeeze out as much moisture possible.
  4. Add the zucchini to the wheat germ mixture.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.  (optional)
  6. Chill for one hour in the fridge.
  7. Shape into 4 patties, 3/4-inch thick.
  8. In a nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the burgers and fry  until golden brown.  Flip and brown the other sides.
  9. Serve with buns and your favorite toppings.

“Why don’t you make those veggie burgers that you used to make?”

Well, nothing ever stays the same.  Not even my World Famous Wheat Germ Veggie Burgers.

Revisions ( in other words what happened?)

How is it possible a grocery store on a SUNDAY has NO MUSHROOMS?  The only plain white button mushrooms were the pre-sliced variety.  They were brown and old.  I guess I could have bought some of those fancy gourmet mushrooms for a gazillion dollars a pound.  Or I could have stopped at another store for mushrooms.  In the end I decided to just wing it.

So, no mushrooms.  Dried shiitake?  No, too Oriental for me.  In the place of mushrooms I caramelized a medium sweet onion and also added some riced up cauliflower.

In about 20 minutes we’ll find out if the substitutions works.