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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Squash Casserole

Life can be funny sometimes.  Every year the Thanksgiving menu never changes.  There was the occasional occasion where someone in the family said,

This is getting boring.  Time to change things up.

So a new dish gets introduced.  Everyone proclaims how delicious the new dish is but somehow the new dish is never to be seen again at Thanksgiving.  It took us a while to figure out but finally we figured out that boring was good.  And I’m not saying this squash casserole is boring.  You just have a tendency to forget how good it is.

So here’s to Thanksgiving with the same menu, the same people and one hell of a squash casserole.

  • 2 lbs yellow squash, rough sliced to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, sliced
  • 3/4 C cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Place the squash in a sauce pot with about an inch of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat, and steam until just cooked through.  Drain, mash with a potato masher to a rough mash and set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate pan, saute the onion in butter until soft.
  3. Grease an oblong baking dish big enough to hold the squash (butter is better).
  4. Combine the eggs, 1 cup of the cheese, cracker crumbs, onions, and squash.  Mix well and place into the baking dish.
  5. Cover with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until the cheese is browned and the sides are bubbly.
  6. Let the casserole sit for 10-15 minutes to firm up.  Serve warm.

 

The other day we got some squash from our relatives to be in Claremore, OK.  The instant The Boss saw these beautiful vegetables she said,

Make squash casserole.  Grill chicken.  Make a salad.

Yes Dear.

Notes – butter is better.  More butter is more better.  Salt and pepper to taste, but you really don’t need much of either.  Use cheddar to your personal taste.  I like sharp cheddar.  But I used what was already open in the fridge and I cannot tell you the sharpness.  Cracker crumbs – some Southerners swear by Ritz crackers.  I used plain saltines and they worked just fine.

Credits – Aunt Kathy.

Update 12.21.18

“The recipe doesn’t say Ritz crackers.”

“But we’ve always used Ritz crackers.”

Cracker crumbs, bread crumbs all the same to me.  I’ve used plain saltines.  No one complained.  This time I used panko.  Think of the flavor profile.  Ritz will add a touch of sweetness to the squash.  Plain saltines or panko will add plainness.  Take your pick!

Scallion Fried Rice (add Rotisserie Chicken for #5 in the Series One Rotisserie Chicken – 50 Meals)

Scallion Fried Rice

4-6 fresh scallions (green onions)
2 eggs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 T canola cooking oil
3 cups cooked rice (leftover and cold American Basmati)
2 tsp sesame oil

  1. Slice and separate white and green parts of scallions.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a nonstick wok over heat.  Coat pan with the hot oil by twirling.
  3. Add white parts of the scallions and saute about 1 minute.
  4. Add rice and stir-fry while breaking up the clumps until rice is heated through.  Add more canola oil to prevent sticking, if needed.
  5. Turn heat down to medium-high.  Push the rice to the sides of the wok, creating a well in the center.  Crack in the eggs and stir constantly while not allowing the egg to completely set up.  Gradually incorporate the rice until the egg is blended in well with the rice.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil. Garnish with the remaining green tops of the scallions.

 

There have to be as many versions of Fried Rice as there are cooks.  Everyone has their favorite recipe and somewhere along the Path I started making this simple fried rice.  This rice makes an excellent side dish and can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.  The original versions I remember from my childhood had bits of dried Chinese sausage or char siu in the dish.  I’ve also encountered versions made with tiny bits of ham or bacon.  Here I present the ovo-lacto veggie version.

Tips – The rice needs to be cold, preferably leftover from the previous day.  Make fried rice with hot or warm rice and you will make a Giant Clump Fried Rice Ball.  Any white rice will do fine; we prefer the taste of American Basmati.  Better yet, use Texmati American Basmati.  I’ve tried other rices and it’s just not the same.  Now if you want to make a meal out of this fried rice, add some diced Rotisserie Chicken and you have Chicken Fried Rice.

That was easy.

Update 08.23.14

Two eggs, not one.  I’ve also changed the Tips to reflect the type of rice I use.