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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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!
- 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?! 😉
- 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
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!