The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 05.09.20

Sat 5/9

SIP (Shelter in Place) Food Shopping Report

The early Old People Shopping Hour was nearly over by the time I got to the store. There weren’t many customers and all were practicing appropriate physical distancing, all were wearing masks. I made a list and pretty much stuck to the list. The shortages were spotty and I managed to buy nearly every item on my list. The trip was no scavenger hunt this week. The most surprising part of this week’s shopping adventure? Markdowns on certain items. Bacon (what meat shortage?), gourmet potato chips normally $4 a bag at almost half price, organic whole grain bread at a 33% discount from usual retail. I actually had fun at the store and it felt nearly normal.

Check out time brought me back to the new normal reality. There were just two check out lines open and the lines of people waiting stretched into the aisles (six feet apart, of course). The two back to back express check out lanes were gone. I wonder if some workers had to stay home or if another reason existed for the lack of check out lanes open. Old People Shopping Hour was over and the store got busier quickly. Only around 75% of the customers were wearing masks. I saw a mother/daughter combo shopping. There were young families of three and four shopping together, no masks. I guess they didn’t get the memo on masks or the recommendation that just one family member do the shopping. I would also venture a guess that these people don’t have a HCW on the front line and simply do not know the risk.

Last night’s leftover dinner mashup was an unmitigated disaster. I added a can of beans to some leftover chili and we ended up eating a bowl of inadequately seasoned beans for dinner. I thought I’d try a new recipe for Cornbread Griddle Cakes and they were awful as in awful dry. The Boss said something to the effect that our usual cornbread recipe was better which is Spouse Speak for you better not ever make this again or I’ll divorce you. So I woke up this morning needing to have a bountiful shopping trip and I got lucky.

Stay safe.  Stay home (for just a few more weeks).

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.

 

 

 

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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Love in the Time of Ourselves: Reflections From a Memoir Teacher — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

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By Joelle Fraser The other morning, like tens of thousands of parents, I woke to a message: our children would not be returning to school after spring break. It almost felt like old news. The threat of change had been in the air itself, as real and invisible as the virus that caused it…

As a reader of others’ memories, I have little advice for mothers, for parents, just this: you will be remembered in ways you cannot imagine. Whole books could be written about how much you mattered, and how deeply you were loved

via Love in the Time of Ourselves: Reflections From a Memoir Teacher — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

Read this entire wonderful piece of writing.

My next post will be about food.  Promise.

Year in Review – 2019

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We became proud parents of a Two Time Pell Cup Champion.

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Paid respects to our Mom in Maine.

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The Tiny Taste Tester Turned Two.

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Taught the Tiny Human how to swing.

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TOMC (the old man car) hit 70k.

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The Stratocaster turned 65.

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Made lots of faces.

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Merry Christmas to all!

Zucchini, Corn & Red Pepper

“How did you make this?”

When this question is asked at the table I tend to ramble on about the types of oils and other ingredients in the dish.  Over time I’ve come to understand that our guests don’t want to know what’s in the dish but rather how did I make this?

It’s a clear sign I need to write it down.  So I did.

  • two medium to large zucchini, sliced into one half inch coins
  • half one large red pepper, diced
  • one third sweet onion, diced
  • one cup frozen corn
  • one clove garlic, minced
  • grape seed oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat approximately one tablespoon of grape seed and olive oils over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the squash without overlapping.
  2. Add the squash coins, flip the heat to high and fry until the squash is golden brown and caramelized.
  3. Flip the squash and repeat.
  4. When both sides of the squash are browned and caramelized remove from the pan, place into a bowl and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat back to medium, add a few dashes of EVO, onions, and red pepper.  Saute for about five minutes.
  6. Add the corn and saute for another five minutes.
  7. Add garlic and swiftly saute for about a minute.
  8. Add the reserved squash back to the pan, pinch of basil, salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Gently mix together and remove from the heat.
  10. Serve immediately or if allowed to fully cool, rewarm over low heat for a few minutes taking care not to overcook the squash.

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This recipe is NOT Tiny Taste Tester Approved.

Yet.

Tiny Taste Tester Special Edition 10.18.19

Welcome to the first Special Edition of the Tiny Taste Tester.  It’s special because we combined culinary pursuits with face making exercises.  The Tiny Taste Tester ate everything we put in front of her.  I would call that a success.

The relative success of making faces training is not for the trainer to decide.

Memories Hidden From View

The past is merely fragmented memories woven into a story that changes according to how you tell it. You can alter the impact your past has on you by changing your story about it…You live in whatever story you tell yourself.

Jarl Forsman and Steve Sekhon – Bite Size Happiness: Volume 1

Taking time off from work is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve taken long weekends where by the final day I am ready to head back to the office and get back to work. This compulsive urge of needing to work has been with me my entire life. My parents’ generation of immigrants, my ethnic heritage, my upbringing all contributed to my strong work ethic. I was quite surprised when recently all of this changed. It’s not that I’ve lost my work ethic or anything like that. I still work hard but I’ve also found other things to do with my time. One of the projects on this extended weekend was to de-clutter  and the target was my collection of saved recipes. Like any other household item the strategy was brutally simple: keep or toss. It didn’t take long to determine that most of the recipes I’d been keeping for possible future meals would be tossed.  Here’s some of the things that you learn about yourself while de-cluttering your recipe collection:

  1. I had saved recipes and old newspaper clippings since 1976.
  2. I never used any of those recipes.
  3. I’ve known for a long time that what I cook and eat currently is a lot different than what I used to cook and eat.  Most of the saved recipes are dishes that I would not cook now.
  4. An entire folder of pork and lamb recipes got tossed.  I eat pork on rare occasions and can’t even remember the last time I had lamb.
  5. Groupings of old newspaper articles eventually became cookbooks for their authors.  I have these same recipes in the cookbooks from the same authors in my cookbook collection.  Why did I keep the old clippings?
  6. Thinning out the cookbook collection is next on the de-clutter list.

I was literally tossing out everything until I found this:

 

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At first I didn’t recognize what I was holding in my hand.  It took a few minutes to realize I was holding an old recipe that was written in my Father’s handwriting.  After this discovery the pace of my purge slowed.  I didn’t want to accidentally discard a cherished memory.

Memories hidden from view that were here with me waiting to be uncovered and woven back into my story.  Have I ever mentioned my Father was one hell of a cook?