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Posts from March 2020

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 14 - Sunday Dinner

20200329_194241Yesterday was definitely a Sunday. I woke up, let Mox out and fed her, then went back to sleep while attempting a meditation. Didn't roll out of bed until fairly late morning and the only "exercise" I did was a stretching routine that was entirely in bed. After a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich I lazed around, caught up on my junk TV, and facilitated our first family Zoom (for one part of the family) with mediocre results and some technical difficulties (good to "see" everyone regardless).

After a snack of chips and guacamole we had a classic Sunday dinner -- roast chicken and potatoes with rosemary. Perfect comfort food despite the fact that we watched our jackass President's presser while we ate. N uses Thomas Keller's roast chicken recipe, which I really like. It was delicious even without the trussing. I also like the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe if you have a day or two to plan in advance.

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 13 -- Restocking and Resetting

Mango sauceI started off the day with a Zoom class run by Circuit of Change -- a yoga/bootcampish studio that I used to attend in Chelsea. It closed within the past year and the owners moved out of NYC, but they are offering online classes during this time. I always liked their classes because they've got an element of yoga and an element of martial arts and, given this time, they are perfect because there is no equipment needed and they make you sweat, for sure. It definitely started my day off in a good place, both mind and body, which was the reset I needed.

After a workout I came upstairs to scrambled eggs with tomato and mushrooms and some oven-cooked bacon. Nothing like smelling bacon to incentivize you during a workout! N had gone out to Stew Leonards for groceries early yesterday morning (but after senior hour) and reported back that they had taken many precautions to keep customers and staff safe, including sanitizer, plexiglass partitions, fewer customers and space between checkout lanes. Their prepared foods were pre-portioned and boxed, but he reported that everything seemed well-stocked and plentiful. At one point I mentioned that At some point during the afternoon I took Mox for a walk but it started to rain, so we didn't make it very far, unfortunately. I caught up via Zoom and phone with a bunch of friends/family during the afternoon and evening including some folks from our old wine club society that we had about 15 years ago give or take. It was great to connect with everyone, if only virtually. During wine club society I had a glass of Tempranillo and some cheese and crackers.

N had gotten some seafood during his Stew Leonards run, so we had a sheet pan dinner of cod with a very tasty mango, coconut and pepper marinade and roasted brussels sprouts, along with a green salad. I never think to buy bottled marinades, but this one -- available at Whole Foods -- would definitely be something I'd purchase in the future. Coincidentally, a friend texted me today asking about ideas for seasonings sauces and marinades. I stumbled across this list of marinades, which is a great place to start, and utilizes many of the things you may have in the house if you have a well-stocked pantry. Finally, I had a Zoom birthday celebration for a college friend, including a trivia game that his wife and kids created that involved breakout sessions -- it was really fun and made me realize I'm merely scratching the surface with what it can do!

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 12 -- Friday Night Festivities

Steak dinner
I'm sure that many people feel like the days are sort of blurring together -- I know I do. I've been losing track of the days of the week, but we noted Thursday as we took stuff out to thaw for dinner that we should do something "special" for Friday and one of the other weekend nights, so we took some steaks for Friday and a whole chicken for one of the other nights (depending on how long it takes to thaw) out of the freezer. A roast chicken sounds particularly cozy and comforting to me right now, so I'm really looking forward to it, whenever we get to it.

Breakfast was some yogurt, granola, strawberries and honey with a small slice of banana bread and lunch was tomato soup and grilled cheese (again, but this time with the addition of some Stonewall Kitchen onion and garlic jam. It was gorgeous in the afternoon, so after lunch I took Mox for a walk and then we relocated to the deck, where we basked in the sunshine -- after Thursday's run I decided to take a day off and just do a meditation, and then I spent some time playing/practicing the ukulele. R&N finished working a bit earlier, so we had a lovely cocktail hour on the deck with some chips and one of my favorite salsas (from Jalapa Jar) -- I had a 50/50 martini (half gin/half dry vermouth) on the rocks with orange bitters.

After a Zoom session with "the beach house girls," we ate our festive Friday night steak dinner -- steak on the grill with sides of thick sliced tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic glaze and a some creamed spinach, made with one of the packages of frozen spinach from our stash (note, we were out of half and half, so just used melted butter and milk -- guestimated the proportions. Once again, I forgot to take a picture until we were most of the way done.  My old food blogger self would be ashamed!

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 11 - Advance Planning

20200327_164903Each day I've been doing a scan of our larder (pantry, fridge, freezer) to see what we've got and come up with cooking ideas. That said, all of our proteins (with the exception of some canned chickpeas and dried lentils) are frozen, so we need to determine at some point early enough in the day what protein we want to thaw for dinner. Last night, without consulting the others, I went rogue (HA!) and decided to thaw out some pork chops that I had gotten from Butcher Box. Side note -- I've been thoroughly impressed with Butcher Box every time I've gotten their products, but find that their subscription is too much for one person, so have taken advantage every time they offer a one-off option, which they do periodically.  We have plenty of apples and onions, so I knew I wanted to utilize them in my pork chop dish.

Meanwhile, breakfast was banana bread and coffee, and lunch was the last of the Indian food. In the late afternoon, I actually attempted a run(ish). It's INCREDIBLY hilly here. So much so that I really can't run more than 30 seconds straight without encountering either an up or downhill. I tried the best I could, and ended up walking a lot, but at least I got my sweat on. 

Pre-dinner snack was chips and onion dip and then I set out to make my pork chop dish. No real recipe, but here's an effort to re-create it:  season pork chops well with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large, deep skillet, and sear the chops. You will know they are ready to flip when they release easily from the pan. Once both sides are browned, move them to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and deglaze the pan with cognac (brandy or port would work too, or cider if you're feeling less boozy), scraping the pan to relase any browned bits. add a tablespoon or so of butter, then some sliced onions and apples. Season with salt and pepper again. At this point I added some cider syrup, which we had gotten at a local farmer's market, but perhaps a touch of sugar and some balsamic or sherry vinegar would serve the same purpose, and a bit of liquid -- water, cider, or chicken stock would probably all work. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until apples and onions are tender. Add the pork chops and either continue to cook on the stove or throw the whole pan in the oven. Stop cooking when the chops reach just under 145 (they'll continue to cook with the residual heat).


COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 10 - Simplicity

Yesterday was somewhat dreary, so I was feeling sort of dreary. Each morning I've been listening to Cuomo's update, which is somehow scary and calming at the same time. Breakfast was a slice of banana bread and coffee. R&N get up much earlier than I do, and R makes a pot of coffee every day. It is SO NICE to have someone make coffee and to wake up to the smell of coffee in the morning. I own a coffee maker with a timer, but it has a glass carafe, and I don't like the taste of coffee sitting on a hotplate for a while (I don't drink my coffee first thing). I stopped using it, but I might look into retrofitting it with a vacuum carafe for the future.

At some point during the day I took a walk (before lunch? after lunch? why do I have no idea?) and had tomato soup for lunch with some chips and onion dip. Did I mention how much I love onion dip? I will likely be eating some every day until it's gone.  For cocktail hour I had some salami and cheese with an aperol spritz, and for dinner we decided to keep it simple: pasta with pesto (premade) and a green salad. 

And yes, I forgot to take pictures. Will do better tomorrow.

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 9 - Banana Bread

BurgerThe days are starting to blend into each other a little. It's fine, but a little disconcerting when you can't remember what you ate or did yesterday . . . 

I ate the last of the pasta with lemon and peas for breakfast. I love leftovers for breakfast generally, and this was no exception. After breakfast, I did a quick inventory and realized the bananas were getting a bit overripe, so I made some banana bread. When I checked in with my dad later on in the afternoon, he too had made banana bread. My guess is that the bananas that everyone bought last week and didn't finish are just at the right point for banana bread right now, so we're not the only ones. 

Took a walk with Mox and then came back and did a quick bodyweight workout routine outside (thanks, Aaptiv!) before heading in to stretch. For lunch, I dug into some leftover chickpea and potato masala from a few days ago, then took out some of the ground frozen meat for dinner. Given our current choices (bison, chicken, and turkey), we settled on some bison burgers, which we cooked up with some oven fries and a salad. Filling and comforting. Cocktail of the day: rye whiskey Manhattan. Two parts whiskey, one part sweet vermouth, dash of bitters. Stir with ice and strain or serve on the rocks as you prefer. 

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 8 -- Restraint

20200323_135700As I have said, we have a well stocked larder and I feel incredibly fortunate. At this point, given the advance planning, shopping, ordering online, and restocking in the city, I'm convinced we could stay put for a while. At home, there are certain things I don't keep in the house on the regular, particularly since I've launched InSpirer Consulting and I'm often (and since January exclusively) working from home. I love to graze and snack, and when temptations abound, it's hard for me, particularly when I'm not exercising as much as I usually do. In my current situation, there are so many temptations. So. Many. Cheese, potato chips, ingredients to make onion dip, trail mix, salami, popcorn, candy. The good news is that there are just as many healthy options, but man, it's tough to pass up those potato chips, especially when the days seem twice as long as "normal" days.

20200323_171302Yesterday, I give myself about a B on the restraint front. I had some yogurt and granola for breakfast and went for a walk in the snow afterwards, followed by some ab work and stretching. Lunch was pure comfort on a snowy, dreary day -- tomato soup and grilled cheese with ham. I did NOT open up any chips to go with it. Gold star. At about 5:45 I made myself a snack plate, but a tightly rationed one, because that's where I can go terribly wrong. Pre-dinner snacks that are sufficient to serve as dinner, followed by, well, real dinner. Real dinner was also on the lighter side -- roasted salmon and broccoli rabe, served with a mixed green salad. No recipes today - the soup was boxed and the salmon/broccoli rabe were just seasoned and roasted. I will admit to some sour gummy candies for dessert, however. . . 

Overall, I am trying to be kind to myself -- these are weird and stressful times, and I know I have a habit of turning to food for comfort. I also know that I'm uncomfortable when I overeat and underexercise, so I'm trying to figure it out given my current circumstances.

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 7 - Sunday?

20200322_204550When I'm home on a regular Sunday, I'll often make myself brunch. Usually bacon (cooked in the oven -- if you don't cook your bacon this way, you should; I usually do it at 350 for 15 minutes, flip it once and then check it every few minutes until it's done to my liking, then drain on paper towels), an omelette of some sort, and toast or hash browns depending on what I've got around (I've started keeping a loaf of sliced sourdough bread in the freezer as well as some Trader Joe's shredded potatoes (which definitely need to be cooked with plenty of seasoning and grated onion). Yesterday we didn't make brunch -- I had coffee and a banana -- then went for a short walk with Mox, followed by a longer walking meditation (this has become a bit of a routine).

While my hosts were working, I had leftovers for lunch -- the pasta with lemon and peas. and scanned the newly restocked pantry/fridge/freezer for dinner ideas.  As most of the meat proteins are in the freezer and we had steak last night, I opted to use my newly re-homed Indian spices to make Chana Aloo Masala -- chickpeas with potatoes masala. I substituted diced for crushed tomatoes as that's what we had, and we didn't have cilantro, which definitely would've made it better. I was so excited to have garlic and ginger (brought this frozen ginger from my home freezer, which was delicious; might look into some of their other products in the future), but learned that not everyone in the house likes ginger -- alas. I knew the other dislikes but somehow didn't know that one. Oh well. More leftovers for the rest of us!

I also wanted to highlight a cocktail I made yesterday as well as a few days ago -- a French 75. Use gin or cognac, whichever you prefer!

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 7 - Replenishing

RibeyeToday everyone slept in and after my first really sweaty workout of the week, had scrambled eggs and english muffins for breakfast. After realizing that our initial week away from NYC was going to be a much longer stay, we decided to drive back to the city to pick up food/supplies/clothes, etc. from our respective apartments. Among the things I brought back were some of the spices I had been craving -- GARLIC! Woo hoo! Cumin, curry, garam masala, and ginger. Also brought back some of the food I had stocked up on -- some frozen food from Butcher Box, including salmon, scallops and pork chops, more coffee, a bottle of rye, sweet and dry vermouth, and some perishables (eggs, cheese, clementines). I also picked up food and meds for Moxie and some additional clothes and toiletries. It was nice to spend even a little time in my apartment, and I cooked up a few Trader Joe's chicken gyoza as a snack while I was there. We had some cheese, crackers, and sopressata when we returned (accompanied, for me, by a 50/50 martini on the rocks with grapefruit bitters, and then N cooked up a rib eye that was among things he picked up from his favorite butcher in Brooklyn while they were there. He served it with a side of garlicky green beans and a green salad. Brownie for dessert.

I'm hoping to cook up something Indian this week and looking forward to having some seafood along the way. When I was home briefly, I looked at Caviar to check on the delivery services and noticed that Nami Nori now delivers. I can tell I'm going to be seriously craving sushi when this is all over . . .

I also made sure to pick up one "real" pair of pants since everything else I have here has an elastic waist. I'm happy to report they still fit. Perhaps a tad snug, but they still fit. I'm even sore from yesterday's workout. 30 minute walk and some stretching today, back at it tomorrow.

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 6 -- Craving Comfort

During a time of crisis, it's easy to gravitate towards things that are comforting, and yesterday was no exception. I had some ham and cheese for breakfast with an apple and coffee, then made myself a tuna melt on an english muffin for lunch, with an arugula salad, and a side of salt and vinegar chips (now that the Cheetos are gone, salt and vinegar chips are my next favorite in the house).  I didn't cook dinner yesterday -- N made a fantastic pork tenderloin with some sauteed mushrooms and cauliflower and a green salad. Dessert was way too much wine and a stress-releasing dance party on the deck on an unseasonally balmy night. Of course, I forgot to take pictures . . .