Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Pandemic Pantry: Cooking Covid-19 Style, Days 22 - 28

Day 22: Sun Apr 5
Steamed piggy egg yolk custard bun massacre and pork dumplings.
This is what happens when you steam these piggy buns a couple of minutes too long.  Poor things look they've been bludgeoned in some sort of dim sum gang war.

Roasted carrots and shallot with dill, served with lamb rarra gosht, rice, and pickles.  Guava juice and a few drops of tequila for flavour.
I roasted carrots and a whole shallot in grapeseed oil (my favourite for cooking), dried dill, kosher salt and black pepper.  I'm working on using up a few things in time for my grocery delivery on Tuesday, and it was very satisfying eating my last shallot and two carrots. Dill just works so well with carrots, and I'll credit the old Market by Jean-Georges for inspiring the carrots and Linh Café for the shallot.  When restaurants open up again, it will be interesting to see what they've done with the new iteration, Marketplace on 3rd.

Day 23: Mon Apr 6
IKEA meatballs, tater tots, Tesco brand instant gravy, cranberry sauce, canned dolmades.
I've got an entire week where I don't need to work at home (a previously scheduled block of time lining up with the Easter stat holidays).  I was expecting my first grocery delivery order on Tuesday, so I was working on using up what I had in my fridge.  Unfortunately, I didn't anticipate how many items (20) would be sold out in my order.  This order was the first fresh groceries that I've had for three weeks, so I was very excited about it.  However, it was also very satisfying using up so many items that had been lingering in my freezer.

Pineapple and peach "Julius."
This pineapple and peach Julius-style smoothie (with vanilla and just a bit of water and sugar) was made with some frozen fruit that I have had in my freezer for ages because the chunks froze together in a big blob in each bag, so I never got around to using it.  

Day 24: Tue Apr 7
Ketchup chips and blueberry pie with yoghurt.
My groceries arrived in the morning, and I dove into some of the more indulgent items for lunch.  I had been wanting chips since they didn't make it into my previous London Drugs order.  I never liked ketchup chips when I was little but now I definitely have a taste for them.  I bought a big multipack of chips so that they would last a long time, and I would be able to just eat a small portion each time.  I normally very rarely buy myself potato chips to have around my place, and really look forward to having them when I have a party or something like that.  But I figured it would be good to have a treat.  Same with the individual portions - I would normally be trying to reduce packaging, but these chips packed this way should last me weeks, maybe months.  I had rice with an egg and some seaweed sprinkled for breakfast before the order came and was sad to learn that the eggs in my order were not available (and no substition was offered even though I checked that option).  Blueberry pie was delicious though, and I did receive my big tub of Balkan style yoghurt which will have many savoury and sweet uses.

Japanese curry with carrots, potato, mushroom, onion, celery, daikon, garlic sausage, tiny bit of deli ham and tofu.  Served with rice and raita (yoghurt, cilantro, green onion, toasted cumin seeds, garam masala, cayenne, salt, cucumber). Diet Orange Crush.
I was looking forward to making this curry for a long time, but just needed the ingredients. I was planning to put beef in it, but they weren't able fulfill that in my order, so I threw in sausage, and bits of other protein around.  I haven't made Kraft Dinner for ages, but I think I have a similar type of childhood nostalgia fondness for packaged Japanese curry sauce, even though I never had it as a child.  I made so much of this and planned to freeze some for later.  In addition to the serving shown, I had three more servings for the fridge, and four for the freezer.  I was also planning to make a huge meatloaf if my ground beef had come in the order, and was going to preslice the portions for the freezer so that I could take out a bit at a time.  Maybe I can get some ground beef later.  I've been wanting a good diet version of orange pop for a long time, as it's one of my vices.  I do like things like Diet A&W Rootbeer and Diet Pepsi.  All I can say about the Crush is that it's the right colour and looks appetizing.  The artificial taste of the sweetener is too prominent for me.

Day 25: Wed Apr 8
Bits and bobs. Hummus, homemade raita, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, sour cream and onion Ridgies, digestive biscuits, mixed nuts, gala apple with caramel sauce. 
This was a plate of munchies to eat in front of a movie.  I wound up adding HBO to my Crave subscription this week on top of my existing Netflix account, and over this pandemic, I have watched (in part or whole) things like Beyonce's Homecoming, Tiger King, Ferdinand, Bear Grylls' You vs. Wild, Tropic Thunder, American Made, Picard, Killing Eve, Aquaman, The Hustle, Once Upon a Hollywood, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, Pokemon Detective Pikachu, and Oceans 8. 

Day 26: Thu Apr 9
Blueberry pie, yoghurt with a bit of sugar and vanilla, and pan-fried garlic sausage.
I don't know if anybody else does this, but I find a warm slice of fruit pie to be a great breakfast once in a while, or at least as good as a strudel or other breakfast pastry.

Day 27: Fri Apr 10, Good Friday
Buttery flaky roll with grape jelly, (unphotographed)
This was a leftovers day as I worked through more Japanese curry, rice, and pie.  I had been wanting grape jelly for classic PB&J sandwiches even before I started staying at home, and had some trouble finding a jar in person and online, so I was excited to receive the jar.  Here's a photo of the jelly and the rolls separately, photographed on another day.  I have several preserves, but I always seem to go back to strawberry jam and grape jelly.

Day 28: Sat Apr 11
Homemade crispy waffles with banana, pecans, maple syrup and a side of pan-fried garlic sausage (forgot to plate the yoghurt topping).  Paired with french press coffee, milk, and sugar.
I had plans with a few friends for an online camera chat over brunch.  I've missed going out to restaurants with friends so I decided to try to make it a bit special for myself by aiming for a pretty presentation and even pulling out my cute cream and sugar set.  We chat with text only all the time, but it was really nice actually seeing each other and having a planned day.  Even though it was virtual, it really did feel like having a meal together.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

The Pandemic Pantry: Cooking Covid-19 Style, Days 17 - 21

Here is part 2 of documenting my humble meals during this outbreak.  Generally, I tend to pick just one noteable meal or food item of the day to photograph.  I continue to stay at home in my small apartment.  I made it through the second half of March alright.  On April 1st, my workplace officially extended remote working arrangements to April 30th, but this was not a surprise.   Most of my food is based on nonperishables, and I will go to 23 days before getting fresh groceries; fingers crossed that my Save-on Foods delivery comes as scheduled on Tuesday as I'm excited about it.  I wonder if this will get me hooked on grocery delivery even after everything settles down.

Day 17: Tue Mar 31
H&H Thai Premium Mix dried fruit, pictured with Haribo Tangfastics.
I received a delivery of some pantry items from London Drugs, and I decided to try this dried fruit mix as I tend to miss fruit after a while, and dried fruit would hold me over until I get some fresh fruit.  I also have prunes.  I loved this mix.  There are big pineapple rings, and plump whole strawberries that seem more like a soft gummy candy than dried fruit.  The fruit was a better candy than the sour gummies in the photo.  I usually buy the imported Haribo Orangina gummies from London Drugs.  But I'll try to get this fruit mix again.  I'm not a big fan of the thick chunks of young coconut as they are bit on the hard side for me, but I ate them so they weren't that bad.

Day 18: Wed Apr 1
Congee with untraditional toppings - peanuts, cilantro, green onion, white pepper, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), bonito flakes, tortilla chips. chopped ground pork and mushroom patty.
This time I had peanuts, picked out of a nut mix, and pan roasted. Much better than my peanut butter substitute last time.

Nong shim black instant ramen with frozen mushroom wun tun and chive dumplings, frozen corn, carrots, tofu.  It seems like people really love this brand of Korean instant ramen, but I'll take plain Japanese Ichiban any day. Nong Shim does make an interesting milky soup, though. 

Day 19: Thu Apr 2
Pan-fried SPAM, sunny-side up eggs, frozen tater tots, canned baked beans, toast.
This was my first real adult taste of SPAM.  It's a food that people talk about these days a lot and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.  People are fond of Hawaiian musubi, pan-fried SPAM on rice, with nori; subtle-Asian traits social media posts show it on soup noodles like ramen, or even some people are eating it uncooked, straight out of the can!  People talk about all the different flavours that are available in different places too.  I was hoping to like it, and I was careful about getting a really good sear on it, but I just didn't like this low sodium unflavoured SPAM.    I had two more meals from this can so see below for the progression.

A little music with dinner?  I tried switching to castanets from my desk bell for the daily 7 pm thank you cheer for essential services workers, especially health care professionals.  My cat runs under the bed when she starts to hear the cheers outside.  Yes, that's how loud it is; I really love how people are getting into it here in downtown Vancouver.  I was thinking that the bell sound was unpleasant for her.  I bought the castanets as a souvenir from Spain, but forgot that there is a particular way to play them.  So I guess I did learn a new instrument during this time, kind of.  For a new language, I'm going to work on my French on Duolingo, I think.

Day 20: Fri Apr 3
Canned spicy sweet dolmades in warm corn tortillas, mixed nuts, tortilla chips, and guava juice with soda water (unphotographed).
Earlier: shrimp noodles, frozen wun tun, tofu, carrots, hoisin and chili glazed SPAM in chicken broth (unphotographed).
I continued to experiment with the rest of the can of SPAM and managed to make it tasty with a sweet glaze (inspired by a suggestion that I could use teriyaki sauce to mimic the teriyaki-flavoured SPAM).  I pan-fried the thinner SPAM slices a long time so that it really compacted down and they had a dark crust all around and then added hoisin and chill sauce to glaze it in the pan  Success!  I treated the remainder of the spam the same way the next day.  Still don't think I'll be buying it again, not even for camping (I was hoping I would like it enough because it would be great for transporting without needing any refridgeration, and I could always fry it over the campfire, or maybe even cubes on a stick.  But I'm sticking with smokies in the cooler for now).  The dolmades and snacks was a lazy late dinner.  Also a new nonperishable item for me to purchase.  They were okay, but better wrapped in tortillas.  Maybe the plain ones would be better.  They have potential for camping, but the can was too big for one meal.  I'd rather bring smoked oysters.

Day 21: Sat Apr 4
Sunny-side up eggs, hoisin and chilli-glazed SPAM, rice with furikake and shredded nori.  Paired with pour-over coffee with sweetened condensed milk.  Again, having time to make rice in the morning for breakfast is wonderful.  I enjoyed this breakfast a lot.  Also enjoyed trying out my new double-walled mug that I received by delivery. I'm still having sweetened condensed milk in my coffee until I get my grocery delivery with milk.  Running out of milk is pretty typical for me, even in pre-pandemic times.  My old bag of shredded teriyaki-flavoured nori was sticking and clumping, so I used my new bag here on the rice, and blitzed up the old stuff to make small flakes to sprinkle.  I would like to buy some finely shredded nori, but this was all that I found the last time I looked. I can't believe I've spent three full weeks at home, and it's looking like at least three more weeks are to come.

Later, I had the last of my Indian restaurant delivery food - lamb rarra gosht and my UN of pickles (Japanese, my take on "Vietnamese", Californian, and a Greek olive).  Served with chai from a teabag with a couple of extra cardamom seeds, and ice tea.