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 . . .

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 5 - Variety, or Lack Thereof

As I track my cooking and eating escapades, I have realized that, even in normal times, I cook larger batches and then eat leftovers. A lot. I also repeat meals, depending on what's in the house. Case in point: yesterday I had avocado toast for breakfast (technically mashed avocado on a toasted english muffin with sea salt, chili flakes, and a squeeze of lemon, and lentil soup, arugula salad and the last of the Cheetos for lunch (sniffle). We still have some lentil soup left, which will probably go today, and I'll likely hit up leftover sausage and potato roast for lunch (although I've been craving tuna melts -- we'll see). For dinner, I made linguine with lemon and peas, based on this recipe, and we paired it with an arugula salad. Leftover brownie for dessert. There is at least one serving of leftovers from this as well to add to our mix. Additionally, we picked up a box of produce (and some additional frozen meats, dairy, and ice cream) from Halas Farm in Danbury. They are offering boxes of mixed produce that you order/prepay for online and then you pick it up at their farmstand (limited/no contact). Alas no garlic, but plenty of onions! And scallions! And so much more. This will keep us busy for a while and we were able to support a local farm. Note to anyone in the area: they are taking pre orders for baked goods this weekend. Check their Facebook page for details If you can support your local farmers markets, please do. At least in NYC they usually supply restaurants, which are generally closed, and you can shop in the open air. Markets have adjusted their shopping practices to limit personal contact, but are still open.

Some potentially helpful resources that I've stumbled upon:

COVID-19: A Food Diary Day 4 - Assessment

Sausage and potato roastSo I spent a chunk of time yesterday and this morning really looking carefully at our larder and searching recipes. We have PLENTY of food. What's interesting is that there are certain things that I realize we need. Well, NEED is a strong word -- more like it would be really helpful if we had. Garlic and onions, most definitely, as they are a key ingredient in almost everything -- soups, stews, Indian cuisine and other curries -- and probably some ginger, too. And speaking of curry, we could use some curry and/or garam masala as well as some cumin, which seems to pop up in many recipes I'm seeing with chickpeas. I also realized that although we have tons of pasta, it's all linguine. Again, these are not major problems at all, just makes me have to think more creatively. I also discovered in my exploration that we do, in fact, have the fish sauce I has hoping we had the other day.

Yesterday, I had avocado toast for breakfast, and made some fried rice for lunch with an egg, a slice of bacon, some onion, frozen peas, a few baby carrots, some leftover rice, and soy sauce, topped with a squirt of sriracha. I'm also starting to assess what will go bad first and trying to plan from there. We have a large open container of arugula, which we've been eating a bit for salads, and I combined some of that with sausages from the freezer and potatoes to make this simple and delicious dish from Smitten Kitchen. The recipe calls for shallots, but I substituted a bit of onion (making those onions last as long as I can), and it's topped with a squirt of lemon. We have leftovers which we can munch on today, plus we've still got that lentil soup (I think it's time to freeze whatever we don't eat today.

Tonight I'm pondering a pasta or chickpea dish of some sort. Tune in tomorrow to see what happens!

COVID 19: A Food Diary - Day 3 Leftovers and Improvisation

First of all, I keep forgetting to take pictures. Gotta work on that. Yesterday wasn't a particularly exciting cooking day, and I'll get to that, but I wanted to share two important recipes that came up when I posted on Facebook about my cooking diary. Both are from Marcella Hazan, the queen of Italian cooking, and both are staples that you should make anytime. First is her bolognese sauce -- great to simmer away all day while you're cleaning your house/apartment. Definitely make at least a double batch and freeze it. Second is her three-ingredient tomato sauce, which I've (embarrassingly) never made. Perhaps now's the time.

20200317_130123Breakfast was -- I have no idea what I ate for breakfast. A bit of cheese and an apple, I think? For lunch, I had leftover lentil soup, a small arugula salad, and some of my beloved Cheetos (I bought a bag of Baked Cheetos as part of my most recent hunker-down haul in the city; you know I had to bring those with me to CT for medicinal purposes).  As for dinner, one of the more interesting things in our pantry are a few jars of Watcharee Thai sauces. I've used their pad thai sauce before at home (tasty) and last night, took out a jar of their massaman curry sauce. They have a bunch of recipes on their site for utilizing their sauces, both for traditional versions of Thai dishes and more non-traditional recipes. I was aiming for a basic massaman curry, but realized quickly that we didn't have chicken breast, thighs, or cuts of beef more traditionally used in the dish, but we did have ground meats galore in the freezer. I thawed some ground chicken, and with this recipe in mind (which has caught my eye, but I haven't yet made), I made some chicken meatballs, browned them, and then followed the remainder of this recipe for chicken massaman curry.  Here's where I had to get a little creative. The Thai-inspired chicken meatball soup recipe I mentioned called for ginger, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and fish sauce -- traditional Thai flavors. We had none of those things, so I added some grated onion, and a few Asian-ish ingredients: soy sauce and sriracha.  Definitely not as flavorful, but the curry sauce was so delicious that none of us seemed to mind. We served the dish over rice and, of course, I forgot to take a picture. 

COVID-19: A Food Diary, Day 2 - The Magic of a Well-Stocked Pantry and Freezer

Snack plateRemember how I mentioned that I'm staying at a house with a well-stocked larder? Well, that is most definitely an understatement. Just off the top of my head (pre-coffee), I know we have canned goods including beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, tuna, and vegetables; frozen fruits and vegetables; pasta galore; jarred sauces (tomato sauce, salsas, thai curry sauces); bulk goods like rice, lentils, baking staples (flour, sugar, baking soda) and popcorn; oils and vinegars; condiments up the wazoo; frozen ground meats and sausages; salamis and cheeses; potatoes and onions (no garlic!); trail mix, chips, crackers; and fresh fruits, veggies, bread, deli meats, eggs, milk, hummus, and butter. I'm probably forgetting a bunch, honestly. This means that I have a LOT to choose from, but generally, even in my tiny kitchen, I have a lot of this stuff on hand (in smaller quantities). I cannot stress the importance of having a well-stocked pantry generally, but particularly when times are tough. The NYT has a great article on stocking your pantry, and I found collections from Budget Bytes and Smitten Kitchen on pantry cooking.

RaosYesterday was a great example of pantry cooking. I made lentil soup for lunch, but left out the celery, garlic, and cumin (which we don't have) and added two links of chorizo that were in the freezer.  Snacks were some cheese, crackers, salami, and these corn nut things that Nagib likes (I have no idea what they are called). For dinner, we had a salad alongside pasta arrabbiata, made with jarred Rao's sauce -- it had been recommended to me and was really good for jarred sauce, with a spicy kick. Leftover brownies for dessert.