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:

img_1967

$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 – 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.

 

 

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!

 

Never Been to Peru Potato and Bean Stew

In the bookstore the other day I could hardly contain my excitement.  I found a used copy of Mollie Katzen’s 2013 cookbook The Heart of the Plate for six dollars!  Middle and Early Boomers might remember  her Moosewood cookbook.  I still have a copy of that cookbook in my collection.  There are a few recipes from The Heart of the Plate I want to try.  The first one was Peruvian Potato-Bean Stew.  But immediately I saw a problem.

There are over 4,000 edible varieties of potato, mostly found in the Andes of South America.!

“If you can’t get blue potatoes…”

I’m not in Peru.  4000 to pick from and the recipe calls for the blue one.  Since I wasn’t going to find blue potatoes I figured I might as well just mess with the rest of the recipe too.  So here’s my version inspired by Mollie.

Adapted from The Heart of Plate by Mollie Katzen

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chili
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 cups cooked Mayocabo beans with cooking liquid
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion
  • freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add oil, onions, chili powder, ground chili, oregano and cumin .  Gently saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell pepper,  garlic, and salt.  Saute for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes.. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid, canned tomatoes, cover again, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are warmed through.
  6. Season individual servings with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Yum

Random Thoughts

If you like chili you’ll like this recipe.  It’s basically a potato and bean chili, no meat.  If you cannot find Mayocabo beans use pintos.  It won’t taste the same but will still be excellent, kind of like using yellow potatoes instead of the blue ones.  Pinto beans will hold their shape better whereas the Mayocabo is creamier and tends to fall apart with prolonged cooking.

For the beans I used a pound dried, rinsed multiple times and soaked overnight.  The next day I tossed the beans into a pot, added water to one inch above the beans with about a teaspoon each of cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic powder and a bay leaf.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato and White Bean Hummus

  • 1 large sweet potato, baked
  • 3 small whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 can Great Northern White Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini, organic, unsalted
  • 1 and 1/2 large lemons, juiced
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste

The Office Christmas party is at the house this year.  I was asked to make some hummus for the event.  Since I was going to dirty up the juicer and the food processor I decided to try something different.  I made more hummus.  There was a leftover baked sweet potato in the fridge.  A quick Google search turned up this recipe which I’ll credit as my inspiration.

  1. Bake the sweet potato for around 75 minutes or until soft to the touch.  I actually had my potato in the oven for 2 hours at 425F because I forgot about it.  Allow to cool and set aside.
  2. Process the garlic first.
  3. Toss everything else in the pool and process until smooth and creamy.
  4. Did you take the skin off the potato?
  5. Find some pita bread or crackers STAT.

The first thing is to avoid any arguments about whether or not you can call this dip hummus.  It has no chickpeas so technically it’s not hummus.   Google “is hummus without chickpeas really hummus” and take a side.  The second thing you have to get used to is the color.

Pink.  The dip comes out pink.

Serving Suggestions

Put this hummus out at a party and tell everyone it’s a salmon dip.

Have your smartphone cameras ready for your guests’ reactions.

Priceless.

 

The Unoriginal Cabbage Soup

Nothing of importance is ever achieved without discipline. I feel myself sometimes not wholly in sympathy with some modern educational theorists, because I think that they underestimate the part that discipline plays. But the discipline you have in your life should be one determined by your own desires and your own needs, not put upon you by society or authority.

Bertrand Russell

We all know better, but we don’t choose better. I was a cokehead, a heroin addict. At night you get coked up knowing you’re going to feel terrible in the morning. You have to make the habit of doing what’s difficult now to make you better. It’s easy to do the right thing when you’re used to it.

Russell Simmons

I named this soup Unoriginal because there’s really nothing original about cabbage soup.  It could just as easily be called What’s in the Fridge Soup because I had a small head of cabbage that needed to be eaten.  There were two halves of two different peppers and half an onion.  What do you do with these odds and ends?

Soup.

Something happened to me this summer.  I was a lapsed vegetarian for over 30 years and in the beginning of August I got serious about my diet (again).  Kyrie credits his diet for the recent Celtics winning streak.  Clearly something is happening to a lot of people.  It’s not just me.

Choose better.  Losing 200 pounds was not easy.  Regaining 40 pounds was easy.  Making the right food choices?  Trust me, it’s easier than you think.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 large onion, thin sliced
2 carrots, peeled cut into coins
1 stalk celery sliced thin diagonally
1/2 each red and green bell pepper, slice
1 cup frozen corn
7 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 small head green cabbage sliced
1 quart organic vegetable broth
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium size pot heat the olive oil.
  2. Everybody (except tomatoes, corn and broth) in the pool in the following order: onion, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, cabbage.
  3. Saute until the cabbage wilts, add herbs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add vegetable broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer partially covered for 30 minutes.  Add corn and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Yum.

 

Garlic Toast with Balsamic Tomatoes and White Beans

It’s been really interesting getting used to the new ingredient selection and price differences at the grocery stores since moving from New Orleans to Nashville. One major difference is that canned goods at Kroger are almost half the price of the canned goods at the local grocery store that I used to frequent.

Source: Garlic Toast with Balsamic Tomatoes and White Beans

I personally have not tried this recipe but the pictures look awesome and I wanted to “bookmark” the source.  I’ve been following Budget Bytes for some time and Beth does a great job.

Besides the beans, tomatoes and pictures what caught my eye was the comment on the food cost differential by geography.  Why should canned beans be twice the price in one city versus another?  Dynamic pricing and profits.  Simple answer.

Beans are cheap.  And beans are cheaper in Oklahoma too.