Ya Gotta Eat!

2020 was hellish in so very many ways but for a lot of people, it boiled (heh) down to ‘ya gotta eat!’  – but What!?  For those (like my ex-DH who doesn’t know the difference between broccoli & asparagus), living in a world of shuttered restaurants was shocking, but not as shocking as his total incomprehension of stocking up on some basics (“how do you cook spaghetti?“)  For gardeners SoMedia was a minefield of terror-inducing Survival Gardens ( I freaked out and planted TWELVE tomato plants! and I don’t even like tomatoes all that much)  and in the midst of all of that the relentless offerings of Quarantine Baking…… who eats that much bread?!.  Panic-buying of beans & rice!  A friend (with 10acres of tillable space) grew an entire row of pinto bean plants!  If she never sees another pinto bean in her life it’ll be okay by her!

It was all…. well, it was a lot.  At all times I garden and cook on the daily – I cannot imagine how terrifying this must’ve been for those who don’t do any of those things.  Except for the guy who, at the Teeter right as our first shutdown was starting,  stacked his ENTIRE CART with frozen pizzas and cases of beer.  As Dirty Harry said ‘man’s got to know his limitations’

Then, as this dragged on ….for those of us fortunate enough to get… tired of it all?,  Things Food settled into a routine of sorts: ‘what can I make that won’t make me want to faint from boredom?’ v. ‘eh. it’s not rotten.  I’ll eat it!’.  I can’t even imagine how folks with young kids managed – I have only myself and TGirl to consider and you can forget about all the Sam Sifton  and kitchn exhortations – there were days when I could barely drag a piece of bread to the toaster.  How do you get a 5 yr old to eat noodles AGAIN!? (or is it ‘ewww… what is this?  I. WANT. NOODLES!‘).  Add to that the nagging feeling that, as a cook, I should be wanting to cook!!!  (hint:  I didn’t want to).  Then.. as Winter slammed in and the GFA kicked on.. the Seasonal Sinus and resulting loss of smell and taste.

A couple of things kept me culinarily sane.

  1. Eggs.  I love scrambled eggs and even now, after eating elebenty-billion of them, I still.. like.. them!  Interestingly, they are the only iteration of eggs I like.  None of this poached/fried/easyoverovereasy stuff.  Soft scrambled is best and requires a zen-like attention that is very soothing.  How are you guys with Egg?
  2. Collard greens.  I should’ve grown fewer tomatoes and more collard greens!  I eat them at least 5x a week and would probably eat them 7x week except I feel as if I should give some other green a chance.  The whole of lockdown saw me eating hot, curried collards with
  3. Chicken dumplings.  I am not making my own dumplings right now and you can’t make me ;-).  I confess to stocking up on chicken gyoza dumplings by the bagsful – I braise the greens, add hot Thai green curry (and yes I can (and do) make my own but when I ain’t in that feeling (which is nearly all the time these days) I use Mae Ploy… let the greens simmer in the curry, then add the dumplings.  Once it’s ready I stir in a teaspoon of coconut cream (oooh!  great tip – if you have a can of coconut cream, dump the leftover into a freezer bag and…freeze it.  You can snap off a bit as you go).  Boom!  Late lunch:  DONE!

    photo: Momo King

  4. Bacon. ’nuff said. Baaaaacon.  But you know, a little really can go a long way.  I chop up a half slice of bacon, cook it and add it to my eggs.  Tastes just as good as a whole lot more bacon.  Moderation!  What a concept! Who’dathunkit?! 😉
  5. Lemonade.  I like the generic Kroger ‘not from concentrate’ brand because it isn’t quite as sweet as Simply – I cut it 2/3lemonade to 1/3 water – and lots of ice.  Gives me that acid hit that my acidic soul and iffy tummy craves.

And those are my go-to’s.  They are the things that I can eat daily, without getting burned out (dunno why but I can eat hot green curry 7x a week.) I’m surprised that there are no desserts on this list but you know… I baked very little in 2020.  What I did/do crave, though, are these

soooo yummy!

I love the mouthfeel of gummies (gummmmmmmies) but most of them are way too schweeeet.  Not these!  They are the epitome of Gummy Perfection, tart/sweet/tart and so refreshing!  They are my one guilty pleasure.  Okay – maybe not my ‘one’ – there are still Mallomars to consider… but they are in the Top 3. There’s a really good first-press yuzu juice that I may splurge on – I’d love to see how it compares to lemonade (yuzuade?).  Have any of you ever worked with yuzu?

 

Oooh!  Last but not least:  those little clementines!  It’s Cuties Season!  and I am here for it! Floyd knew what he was doing when he brought those little jewels into the Dark Midwestern Winter.  btw – I don’t care what the brand is, as long as they are fresh, juicy and here for my delectation.  TGirl likes them, too, though moderation is key for both of us.

So that’s my lot.  What’s on your plate?  Are you using this time to experiment or are you eating ramen M-Sun?  Desserts?   Do you do 3 squares or have you cut back (that seems to be split, with half of my friends barely managing 2 meals (or even 1) against the other half eating the Full Three, plus baking every day.  Take out?  Fast food?   Pizza & beer????   I say do whatever keeps you sane! I’d rather fight a velociraptor than bake bread but I have friends for whom baking bread is the only thing standing between them and a SWAT team.

How’s food buying working?  Are you shopping or Instacarting (I’m so jelly of you ‘carters – I  don’t have that choice but I do get TGirl’s food delivered – those 30lb bags are brutal to haul in and out of the cart, then in and out of the car.  My beloved UPS guy will put it in my front door if I catch him before he sprints off.

So many things I never really thought about (food shopping) have completely altered, as I’m sure they have for many of you.  I’d love to know how you’re managing the changes!

  • HeidiC says:

    I love those gummies! My favorite are the lychee ones. We’ve fallen into eating a lot of bowls — grain, protein, veggies (cooked or raw), sauce — whatever we feel like making: East Asian, South Asian, Mexican, Greek. And we eat a lot of soups. Takeout once a week. Lunches have devolved into a lot of mac & cheese or frozen pizza or leftovers.

  • Diana says:

    I’ve lived alone for many years and my home cooking is simple fare–lean meats with one green and one red/yellow/orange veggie each meal. I love all kinds of green veggies, including the typical broccoli/green beans/collards/brussels sprouts found in American stores and the varieties you can pick up in Asian grocery stores, like gai lan, yu choy, amaranth leaves, water spinach, pea tips, etc…. I don’t cook starches like rice, pasta or white potatoes very much. My habit has been to cook all my own meals except for one weekend lunch, when I go for something like Indian, Vietnamese, Schezwan, Thai or Japanese. I’m a soup fanatic and love me some Pho, Ramen, Boat Noodles, etc…. Having spent the last 2 years in TX, its been challenging to find decent versions of my favorites from NJ/Philly area, so its felt like I’ve been in a food quarantine for quite awhile. I am starting to teach myself how to bake breads and other assorted treats (just purchased a Kitchenaid stand mixer and a book called “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”) so that when I return to the east coast this summer and am finally near friends and family again, I can whip up some goodies for dinners and holidays.

  • March says:

    WHAT A GREAT POST. We’ve talked about food forever already. We eat a LOT of eggs. I’ve been making quiches and fried rice w a lot of cauliflower rice (and a bit of real) for lower carbs. I love soft boiled eggs on toast when I’m feeling low, because that’s what my mom used to make me (the boys think they’re disgusting) and eggs soft-scrambled in a pot using the Gordon Ramsay method.
    xo

    • Musette says:

      Chef Ramsay knows his stuff. An aunt taught me to make soft scrambled eggs. Divine. Soft scrambled eggs. A touch of mascarpone. thyme. lobster. Perfection.

      xoxoxo

  • Ariel says:

    This year, I became the ultimate meal planner. My kitchen has been organized for years, but the pandemic took it to a whole new level. I bought sooooo many cookbooks and make ten new dishes a week, at least. I order curbside pick-up from my co-op for dry goods, etc (yay, city living) and shop at the outdoor produce market twice a week via bicycle. My meat come from a local farm, and I pick that order up once a month. Again, via bicycle. I’ve been inside a store maybe four time in the last year…and I don’t miss ’em.

    Indonesian, Russian, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Pacific Palate, Australian, Canadian, French…I’m eating new things all the time, using new techniques all the time. Calamari, eggplant that is actually delicious, bagels, no-shellfish gumbo (which maybe doesn’t count as gumbo), cold-smoked tofu, all kinds of curries…I’m barely through a meal before I’m excitedly reviewing the next day’s cooking plan.

    I can tell you what I will be eating for every meal two weeks from now: one of three rotating breakfast dishes, leftovers for lunch, and two or three new recipes for dinner. My husband, a competent cook, has very kindly relinquished the kitchen. I make stock and sourdough bread every week. And recently, I started making enough to share with two other households. Plus, I do baked goods drop-offs to other households each week.

    A friend of mine just moved to Portland with her kid. Single mom, working two jobs during a pandemic. She had to emergency move into an apartment with only a hot plate and a toaster oven, so now I’m her personal chef. We do lovely distance hug-dance every night at 5pm when she drops off yesterday’s bag of pyrex and picks up dinner.

    I’m having dreams of moving out to the countryside so I can do more than grow herbs, but then…who would I feed? When the weather gets good, I want to host date nights for my parent friends. Set them up in my back yard with pretty lighting and safely serve them some food. I can’t hug them yet, but I can feed them.

    • Musette says:

      Ariel.. this is the loveliest thing, particularly what you are doing for your friend! I am .. well, perhaps I’m moving to YOUR house, instead (let’s see.. I’ve invited myself and TGirl to several domiciles today, cheeky limabean that I am) 😉 xoxo

      • Ariel says:

        It’s lovely to share my excessive/obsessive desire to cook these days with those who are just. not. into it. For everything, there is a season! And once the season of travel allows, please know that I consider hosting one of the finest of privileges.

  • rosarita says:

    We love eggs in all forms and eat them a lot, also cheese, often together in burritos, sandwiches, quiches etc. Not much meat. Free grocery pick up about every other week. The nearest Costco is over an hour away but I have a friend who goes monthly and picks stuff up for us, and sometimes I order things from Costco online. I get a big pack of chicken breasts on the regular that my husband grills and we eat a bunch of ways. I’m good at soups and make at least one pot weekly, with brown rice on the side. The pantry is always stocked with all sorts of beans and the freezer with lots of vegetables, pasta, pie crust (for quiche, made with almond & evaporated milk.) Right now we’re on a baked potato kick topped with all kinds of things. We both cook but get really tired of clean-up (no dishwasher) so sometimes when the kitchen is clean we don’t want to cook and mess it up again so we’ll have a peanut butter sandwich or something we can eat on a paper towel. We eat about twice a day and yes, I get bored with everything these days.

  • Dina C. says:

    I like eggs scrambled, over easy or hard-boiled so I can make them into egg salad sandwiches. I’ve had those several times lately including yesterday. Done a little baking during pandemic: NY style cheesecake for Christmas, and oatmeal cookies over the weekend, but no bread. Yeast and I aren’t on friendly terms since college when I spent four hours trying to make bagels which turned out like hockey pucks (the yeast was expired). We’re suburbs people, so we have a great variety available to us. We do take-out a couple times a week, but mostly I cook dinner just like I used to. A nice, new grocery store opened up near my house, and it seems to be well-stocked, so that’s fortunate. I go once per week, and Costco a couple times per month.

    • Musette says:

      I’m glad that cheesecake turned out! I envy you all the close-by grocery options. It’s 30miles to anything grocery for me, alas.

      Do you proof your yeast? Once it’s proofed you shouldn’t have any issues – I urge you to try again! Yeast is KING! xoxoxo

  • Cinnamon says:

    Oh, lord, Musette, you are the one. As Dexys said “my bombers, my Dexy’s, my high”. Here we go. 1) eggs: only scrambled and omelet — throw in whatever (cheese, veg, chilli — best is eggs, lox and onions — nirvana), but unlike you I have to be in the mood; 2) 2-5, nah, not my thing. Others: I’ve latched on to those huge navel oranges because they taste wonderful and the zest is great. Cooking … I can’t yet grow veg in my garden — still sorting it. Two grocery deliveries a month plus the local farm shop when I run out of fresh veg and Sara’s bakery stuff for the freezer (oh, those cinnamon rolls). Corn cakes. They are like rice cakes but better. I make my own gluten free granola which is had most mornings with yoghurt and berries (I’ve decided berries are the one thing I ‘need’ even though they are out of season and silly money). I am originally from NY and bagels are my thing. I’ve not made them for a few months but I’ll get back into soon. Mine fresh from the oven make the world better. Cream cheese. If I wasn’t careful I could do that a couple of times a day. Few things I miss about the US but Zabars is one of them. My son is with me for another few weeks. He makes great chicken sloppy Joes and sushi (yes, sushi — yesterday he used hot smoked salmon and avocado for his rolls). So, yeah. I need to start looking at recipe sites though.

    • Musette says:

      I had to look up Dexys – and then I realized I know them! They are cool!

      You. Make. Bagels. OMG! I love bagels (but only savoury). I’m comin’ to your house!!!
      xoxoxoA

      • Cinnamon says:

        Look out for Kevin Rowland’s (Dexys lead singer when they were the Midnight Runners) version of the Bee Gees To Love Somebody and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now (this one is a bit weird, but the video is good). Yup, bagels. Actually reasonably easy to make. Sweet? No, never, sacrilege (feh to cinnamon and raisin).

  • Jo Ann says:

    Hi Musette and Posse peeps.
    I am literally having Dim Sum dreams.
    If we ever get out of this house, I pledge to look at the outside world with different eyes.
    Please, everyone hang in there. Hopefully we will be done with this pandemic soon. In the meantime, THANKS all you Posse folks for being a happy place to visit online.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    We don’t grow very much except for about a one meter square plot at my BFFs Dad’s house. We’ve had beefsteak and roma tomatoes, loads of different leafy lettuce, silverbeet, parsley, capsicum and coriander. Currently growing some sweet potatoes too.
    Luckily we live in one of Sydneys satellite CBDs so we have excellent shopping and deliverable restaurant foods.
    Jin also has a stock of dumplings for when we are too lazy to make. His dumpling soup is my favourite, by far. He also fries empty dumpling cases and steams up a load of fresh, chopped veg mixed with some chilli jam. Then assembles as he eats. MMMMMMMM
    My main cooking ingredients is mince beef. It goes in loads of dishes, can be made to taste so many ways and lasts well in the freezer pre and post cooking.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      Beloved. If I weren’t so flippin’ terrified of AUS (the flora & fauna) I would pack up The Girl and drive down there to live with you and Jin. I would clean, Jin would cook and you would kiss The Girl all day long!
      xoxoxoA

  • Tara C says:

    I am so sick of everything at this point, but I can pretty much always tolerate toast and eggs. I’m very squeamish though so they must be cooked dry. I don’t have a garden but I do bake bread every week. Being tired of everything, it is a struggle to manage 3 meals a day, sometimes my meal is a handful of trail mix or a bowl of cheerios. We’ve ordered pizza maybe twice, there is no good Chinese/Thai/Indian delivery within range of us unfortunately. I love clementines but the last couple of bags I bought were dry and tasteless. I do love gummies though! Those yuzu ones look yummy.

    As for grocery shopping, we go to Costco every third week. Dog food is ordered online. My hair is in a dire state but that’s a whole nother topic…

    • Musette says:

      I’m mostly eating just to stay alive, which is a very entitled thing to say (I have a freezer and extra fridge full of fabulous foods)… it’s as if there’s a global ennui happening. Since I have to personally grocery shop I make sure to choose only the bags of clems that are tight and heavy. If they feel loose I know they’re gonna suck.

      I’m with you on Egg Squeam – I don’t like them dry but I cannot abide ‘egg snot’ so they have to be thoroughly blended. 😉

      xoxoxo

      • rosarita says:

        Global ennui, so true! Mixed with flashes of terror. I could easily lie around in my favorite sweats reading on the internet every day.

      • NancyC says:

        Omg, I feel the exact same way about eggs. Egg snot phobia is a real thing with me! I whip the heck out of ‘em with a whisk before I scramble them and sometimes use the hand crank jobbies if they don’t look quite right.

  • Kathleen says:

    I love reading your musings! I’ve also settled into select favorites on repeat. I’m not grocery shopping and therefore, my creative recipe ingredients are lacking. I order groceries from my health grocer via Instacart once per week and get basics. My husband goes to the regular grocery store and comes home with broccoli every time, only vegetable he knows how to buy because it comes in a huge bulk bag. We eat a lot of grilled chicken and fish, and broccoli; always have boiled eggs in the fridge; and I am obsessed with mixed nuts, peanuts, and trail mix for snacking when I don’t feel like cooking.
    Kiss The Girl from me! xx