daily recap · what we ate

Chicken Jalfrezi Sandwiches & Hummus (Day 27 Recap 4/8/20)

We were watching the not very good miniseries The Stranger on Netflix a couple of months back and someone in it mentioned he was eating a a chicken jalfrezi sandwich and I was intrigued. I don’t think it’s actually a popular thing anywhere (did they make it up for the show??) but I really wanted to try one. I had some chicken to use up and thought why not now? I didn’t have any store bought or leftover naan (the obvious choice for the bread part) and while I could make it myself, I thought I’d speed it up a bit and make it more quarantine friendly by making a stove top flatbread leavened with baking powder vs yeast. It turned out great and since I marinated the chicken last night, even with prepping the flatbreads, I made it in about 30 minutes for lunch. It was so good! I posted the recipe here. It was fun coming up with something entirely new just using what we had on hand.

Matt wasn’t feeling up to the vegetable soup I planned to make for dinner so he had noodles and cottage cheese again. I had a can of soup and some cucumbers with hummus.

Non-food related activities:

I finished Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet. I have a couple of library books out on my Kindle but I can’t decide what to read next. I also have some physical books from the library left too. I don’t like to read them in bed (after finding a Cheeto in one!) so I always put them off. Normally they’d be overdue but the library keeps renewing them for me since they are closed.

We started the second season of Blood on Acorn but it wasn’t very compelling. The father is so different in this season! Maybe because it’s about his favorite daughter?

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Orange Oatmeal Muffins & Hot Dogs (Day 26 recap, 4/7/20)

Matt made those sweet potato cornbread muffins a little over a week ago (time both flies and doesn’t move) and ate his last one today. After lunch I whipped up a batch of orange-oatmeal muffins. They are perfect for self-quarantining because they don’t use a lot of flour (because of using oats), citrus lasts a long time (these oranges are around a month old) , use only one egg and instead of a whole cup of milk, I made up a third with fresh orange juice. Plus they use oil instead of butter. They are really tasty too! A lovely light orange flavor and they are filling without being heavy.

I made a little too much of spaetzle dish yesterday because I didn’t want to have to come up with something new to use the pork in again and I knew today would be the last day the pork would be safe to eat. However the leftovers weren’t quite enough for both of us to have some. Luckily we had some leftover chicken from Sunday so for lunch Matt had the leftover chicken and potatoes and I had the leftover spätzle with smoked pork and cabbage. It was a relief just to have to heat something up in the skillet vs making something new!

For dinner we had hot dogs, tots and salad with lettuce from last week’s produce box and some red onion, tomato and cucumber I bought last week at Aldi. I am planning more hands-on meals for tomorrow and what we had expiring the soonest was chicken and Matt had some for lunch. I really enjoyed having an easy meal day!

We froze the bone-in chicken thighs I bought last week. The expiration dates weren’t as great as they were when I shopped on 3/12 but I really wanted to stock up so I ended up with a lot of chicken (1 whole, 2x boneless thighs and 1 pack bone-in thighs) with very similar expiration dates (4/9,4/11). I don’t love chicken so I don’t want to eat it every day! Anyway, I marinated some thighs (expiration 4/9) tonight to have for tomorrow’s main meal.

Non-food related activities:

I’m reading Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet and really identifying with the main character’s experience at college. It’s sort of unsettling.

I tried to read Gish Jen’s newest book, The Resisters because I have loved all of her other novels but I couldn’t get into at all. It’s not my genre and while it is kind of cute I don’t really enjoy books with made up names and worlds.

We are watching Blood on Acorn. I had watched the first season a couple years ago but now the second season is out so I am re-watching the first with Matt. It’s one of those shows were you really have to pick out not only the mystery aspect but who everyone is, how old they are, why they are reacting the way they are, where they are.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Deviled Ham Toasties & Spätzle with Smoked Pork and Cabbage (Day 25 Recap, 4/6/20)


I saw this tweet from Helen Rosner about the wholesomeness of the comments on an article about deviled ham and realized I had never tried it before. I tracked down the article felt like now was the time to try deviled ham. If you aren’t going to eat canned meat on day 25(!) of self-quarantine, then when? I really didn’t know what to expect but it was tasty! I posted the “recipe” I made here based on some of the suggestions in the comments of that article.

For dinner I turned some leftover dried spätzle, the leftover kalua pork, cabbage and carrots into a very satisfying dinner. I posted the recipe here, it’s very adaptable for any sort of leftover pork or really any other meat, it’s just especially good with pork.

Non-food related activities:

I did get to take out the hammock and finish  If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio! The book wasn’t great but it was lovely to be outside.

We watched a couple shows on Acorn tonight.

So many dishes! We don’t have a dishwasher and making 2-3 meals from scratch every day even when they are simple is really creating an obscene amount of dishes.

recipe · repurposing leftovers

Spätzle with Smoked Pork and Cabbage

This simple recipe is a great way to use up leftovers from smoking, grilling or slow cooking a pork shoulder or butt when maybe you don’t have some rolls to make a sandwich on.

It’s a complete meal unto itself and requires minimal effort. Last winter I added some pulled pork leftovers in some haluski (a Polish-American cabbage and egg noodle dish, I posted the recipe here) and it was an unexpected delight. I took inspiration from that meal tonight. Halušky, the Eastern European dumpling that gives the Polish-American dish it’s name is very similar to spätzle; they are both thick, egg based noodles. I do a lot of shopping at Aldi and they frequently have spätzle on sale. The bags are an odd size (20 oz, I think) so I end up only making part of the bag and then collecting the rest in a large resealable bag I add to every time I make spätzle until it is enough for a meal. This was that meal. I had some cabbage leftover from two other recipes, some sad carrots plus the leftover pork and turned into this extremely satisfying dinner. The trick is not to overcook the cabbage so there is some texture difference, lightly brown the pork and stir it all together in the skillet before serving.

Ingredients:

1/4 medium cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cups smoked/grilled pork (I used leftover kalua pork*)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 oz dried spätzle (or egg noodles or regular pasta)

Cook spätzle according to package instructions.

In a large pan, sauté the onion, cabbage and carrots until the cabbage starts to wilt and the onion is translucent. Add the pork and spices and sauté until the vegetables are tender and the pork is heated through. Drain the spaetzle. Add to the pan, stir and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

*Or pulled pork. Any leftover meal would work, really but I think pork is tastiest with the cabbage.

Yield: about 4 servings

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 24 Recap: Kalua Pork + Dandelion Mi Goreng & Gamja Jorim + Grilled Chicken (4/5/20)

For lunch I dressed up a Indomie Mi Goreng packet with some sauteed leftover kalua pork and chopped dandelion greens. The greens were fairly wilted but they cooked up fine. I heated up the leftover kofta and fava bean rice for Matt while he worked.

For dinner Matt made gamja jorim and grilled some boneless, skinless thighs he marinated in a bulgogi- inspired mixture similar to this.

Non-food related activities:

More Animal Crossing, of course. I gave up on a couple books and started If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio. It’s okay. I’m not sure what the point is of including whole pages from the various Shakespeare plays the characters are in. It’s very tedious and doesn’t add any depth to the book. The random quotes they use in their conversations with each other make more sense but I don’t need to know every single line of dialogue while they are on stage.

The weather was quite nice today! Our elderly dachshund really enjoyed puttering around the yard. Not quite warm enough for the hammock but soon, I hope.

We watched Parasite, finally! I liked it best out of his other movies. I couldn’t quite figure out why Chung-Sook wanted to call the police on Mun-Kwang so quickly. Why not just ask her to take her husband and leave so no one got in trouble? Things really escalated from there (understatement) and while I get that Mun-Kwang didn’t have a house to go to after losing their money with the bakery and wanted to give Chung-Sook money to care for the husband (which I understand not wanting to do) I don’t know if calling the police made sense. Chung-Sook was also in a jam so you’d think she’d be sympathetic or at least not jump to the police. Maybe it’s my Baltimore City not imagining calling the police for anything beyond activity witnessing a violent crime but it seemed like she was really ratcheting up a situation where no one was in a good position. Was it just because she was drunk and wanted the Park’s to think she was protecting them and to look like a hero? Mun-Kwang didn’t know about her’s family’s plan yet but Chung-Sook also had a lot to lose. It had to happen for the plot but it didn’t ring as true to me as the rest of the movie did.

daily recap · what we ate

Day 23 Recap: Sausage and Hominy & Kalua Pork (4/4/20)

Sausage and hominy is a real old school Baltimore breakfast. Manning’s Hominy was first canned here in 1904 and Mrs. Manning used to sell it door to door before it was mass-produced in 1917. It’s made in VA now, but they use the same process, it’s white corn steamed open, not processed with lye like most commercial hominy. It’s remained a staple for a lot of families with Baltimore roots. I don’t hear much about it anymore but growing up it wasn’t unusual to have it for breakfast with sausage. My grandfather was born in 1914 and had my mother when he was in his mid-40s and she grew up with him and very close to her grandparents (born in the 1880s here in Baltimore) who lived to be quite old so I grew up with quite a close connection to Baltimore’s distant past. I’ve come across a few references to hominey being served with sausage for breakfast in local cookbooks and old newspaper articles and I can only assume it was becuase Manning’s was right here. 1917 was pretty early in the convenience food game so it would make sense it was popular For some reason my grandpop always served it with frozen ready to serve sausages (he was a single father so maybe that’s why) so when the urge hits, I do the same. I get the “lite” sausage and a box of 10 is about a dollar. Between that and the canned hominey you have a breakfast made for quarantine. It’s surprisingly tasty and filling.

I had a small snack in the afternoon of Julius Sturgis sourdough pretzels, apple slices, and cheddar.

Meanwhile, Matt made kalua pork on the grill. He rubbed it in Hawaiian salt and freshly ground black pepper then using the snake method, smoked it on the Weber grill for about 4 hours then wrapped it in (frozen, defrosted) banana leaves and baked it at 325 for another 3 hours in the oven. It was so tender! We served it on white rice and with a side salad. Normally we make it in the instant pot (recipe here) and it’s quite good but this was so much better and I’d think more like the real thing which is cooked in a pit. I wrote up what we did here.

A lot of meat on white food today!

Non-food related activities:

We watched a poorly done documentary about interesting people: Advanced Style. It was about older woman in NYC who were really into fashion. The women were interesting but there was no narrative and the man who I guess brought them together (that I could piece together) was a sort of creepy photography blogger, Ari Seth Cohen, who seemed like a weird hanger on type. The women were all fun characters (but oddly most were very insecure despite being very into design and standing out) but the documentary was so amateurish, it didn’t do them justice. His parts of a documentary were very odd and while it looked like he had put together a book of the women, it was never explicitly mentioned and there was no mention of how the women met or why they were on TV together with this man. Did he become their de facto manager? Was he trying to get famous by latching himself onto the elderly? Maybe the director left a lot out because of his strange vibes about the women but then she should have decided to leave him out all together or clarify his role. The opening where he was just accosting elderly women on the street and saying they were beautiful and that he was a photographer was so cringey it was almost like a parody of a predatory man lurking about the Port Authority trying to lure women fresh off the bus from the Midwest into the life of being a “model”. Cohen wasn’t a relative to any of them and wore circa 1992 Big Dog and colored block button down shirts. No idea what his story was beyond his fixation on well-dressed older women. So bizarre.

We also watched Top Hat which had pretty much no real plot but the dancing was great.

I played so much Animal Crossing. I hate to cheat but I did time travel 2 days so I could get Nook’s Cranny and have the museum open and then switched right back to the right time. I couldn’t take another day or two of not being able to donate bugs or buy a slingshot. It’s a pandemic.

Matt’s been on call this week but not too much stuff in the middle of the night. At least it isn’t disrupting our plans.

My mom called asking if Matt could help her with the garden when we are free to move about again. I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible this year. I’m going to talk to her and suggest maybe trying something in containers or not bothering with the mulch and seeing what happens. She loves her garden and with her brain cancer, I’d like her to have one this year but it’s hard to do with all this going on.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 22 Recap: Dandelion and Dill Chicken Salad & Kofta (4/3/20)

I used the chicken leftover from last night to make chicken salad with dandelion greens and dill for today’s lunch. I posted the recipe here. It was so good! I used the dandelion greens I got in my produce box but they are all over right now if you want to try your hand at foraging! I had it on a wrap we had leftover from lunch back on 3/19.

For dinner Matt made some beef kofta and we had the leftover rice from yesterday. Then he made chocolate chip cookies—half pain and half with cardamom and fennel seeds.

Non-food related activities:

I’m reading Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Worbel. It’s very “ripped from the headlines” from the Gypsy Rose Blancharde case which seems a little creatively lazy.

More Animal Crossing!! I need some more friends so I can travel and get new things.

We watched Pale Horse on Prime. Rufus Sewell looks good.

daily recap · what we ate

Day 21 Recap: Roasted Chicken and Dill-Fava Bean Rice (4/2/20)

Today for lunch we just had canned soup, I think we were both recovering from yesterday’s venture. For dinner I made a roasted chicken sprinkled with harissa seasoning. Matt made some basmati rice mixed with frozen fava beans, chopped Swiss chard sautéed in garlic from our produce box and plenty of fresh dill from our shop yesterday. It really really good! The rice was inspired by the baghali polo we like to order at our favorite Persian restaurant. It made a ton of rice and of course we have some chicken leftover so that will put us in a good spot for some easy meals in the future!

We froze the bones in a bag to make soup later.

Non-food related activities:

The Switch we ordered a long way back finally arrived! I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since 2001 so I’m really excited about that. I’m really disappointed you can only have one island per Switch. I hope they change that. We both wanted to play but it’s sort of pointless for the second player. We downloaded Stardew Valley after realizing that. Who wants to buy a whole new Switch and copy of Animal Crossing for two people to be able to play? Maybe they will do an update and change it?

daily recap · planning · what we ate

Day 20 Recap: A Trip to the Store, Leftovers & Hot Chocolate (4/1/20)

I finally left the house today! It has been 21 days since I last grocery shopped or left the house and actually went anywhere. It was nice seeing all of the trees and flowers in bloom while driving to the store. Our neighborhood has a lot of flowering cherry trees and I was sad I was missing them.

I went to Aldi and it was stocked as normal. Some stock was slightly lower than normal but they had everything they always do including things I heard were in short supply like flour, eggs, butter, toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies. They were very well set up–Plexiglas between you and the cashier, lots of signage about staying six feet apart (it’s about the length of your cart and you) and only one person was allowed to put things on the belt at a time. It wasn’t very busy either; about the same as it always is when I shop on Wednesday. Most people were wearing masks and a lot were also wearing gloves.

I didn’t buy more than 1-2 of each item (except tuna, they had many, many cases of tuna so I didn’t feel bad getting a few extra cans–we eat a lot of tuna) and I think I will be good for most (all?) of April, especially if I can keep getting produce delivered. I still had a few items left from my shop three weeks ago–amazingly a bagged salad (it is mostly carrots and cabbage), some cabbage, cauliflower, celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts plus a small ham and some hot dogs. We were pretty much out of fresh meat and getting very low on onions, eggs and dairy. I got a bunch of different meat and seafood (fish sticks! something I don’t think I’ve eaten since the late ’80s), a few hardy veggies, some canned goods and other basics. I’ve never spent so much at an Aldi before! The expiration dates on the meat weren’t quite as good as they were when I shopped in early March so I have to be careful to use things wisely and possibly freeze somethings for later. I honestly had a couple more non-essential things I kind of wanted but my cart was super full and starting to overflow thanks to some bulkier/weirdly shaped items. It’s really strange trying to shop for a month at once. I’m glad we were able to do that, I know a lot of people don’t have that opportunity. It kind of throws off our budget for the next two weeks but since we aren’t doing any socially or spending money commuting it should even out. Plus there should be little to no food shopping for the rest of the month. It’s just a lot up front.

Matt went to a local Weis and it was apparently the Wild West. No one kept their distance, most people didn’t have masks and the shelves were missing a lot. Yuck! We only get a few things there that we can’t get at Aldi and he was able to pick up most of them. Some more unusual shapes of pasta (for soup), beef Better Than Bouillon, frozen pierogi, kasha, specialty rice, frozen puff pastry, banana leaves, empanada wrappers and phyllo dough and a bunch of rolls and bread. Now that we know we are probably going to be home for a long, long time, we wanted to make sure we have things beyond just the absolute basics so we could make some fun meals. Plus they aren’t as popular of items so they were in stock!

I know there is some debate about whether we should wipe off or disinfect food packaging. I don’t really know. I wiped off the packages of meat and stuff I put in the fridge and freezer. Produce will be washed as usual and we left the nonperishable items on our (locked) enclosed porch to sit for a day or two. They seem to think it would be difficult to get the virus off cardboard or plastic surfaces but it does apparently live on them for a bit. Who knows? I can’t really find any definitive answers and I don’t think they have any. We did a lot of hand washing, changed our clothes and took a shower after we came home and unpacked.

I knew we wouldn’t want to cook after all the shopping (and unloading, oy) so I planned our meals earlier this week so we could have leftover borscht for lunch and quesadillas with the leftover pork for dinner. A lot of very similar/repeat meals the last few days. I bought a whole chicken today so I think I will roast that tomorrow for something different.

For a bedtime snack I had a really good cup of hot chocolate made with a mix by Amara. Seriously the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. And four marshmallows. It was an exhausting day.

Non-food related activities:

Since I actually left the house I was able to spin some stops for Pokemon Go and leave some things in gyms. My friends in the game keep sending me gifts every day but I haven’t been able to reciprocate since we don’t live near a stop.

We watched The Mallorca Files on Britbox. It was pretty cute. A very light mystery series set in a pretty place–perfect quarantine watching. I feel like the woman who plays the “serious” woman detective must be secretly funny, she always seems to be almost ready to laugh or smile but then fixes her face.

Not much else, I’m so tired!

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 19 Recap: Repurposing Leftovers in Borscht & Nachos (3/31/20)

This morning I made borscht using the leftover pot roast and cooking liquid for our lunch. It was so good! A wonderful use of the leftovers. I even have enough for us to have it again tomorrow for lunch.

We started up our Washington Green Grocer deliveries again since it’s spring and there is actually fresh produce in season locally; we normally skip the winter months since nothing really grows here then. It was great opening that box and seeing all that fresh food! I hope it keeps going, it will cut down on having to go to the store and provide more produce variety than we’ve had.

I’m finalizing our lists for the grocery store tomorrow. It’s kind of nerve-wracking to think of interacting with all those people because we are healthy and virus-free due to extreme self-quarantine but I haven’t shopped for food since 3/12/20 and we are getting down to the ends of our fresh food (well, until the produce delivery showed up this afternoon). We are going to each go to one store then self-quarantine again for a few weeks. Fingers crossed I can get everything we want/need. I’m going to go in the morning then Matt is going to fill in at another store.

For dinner I made a small batch of sheet pan nachos made with leftover ingredients from last night’s quesadilla. Matt had leftover pork on leftover rice from yesterday and some leftover sweet potatoes.

Non-food related thoughts/activities:

Matt was chatting with one of the owners of the studio where he does tai chi that we were going to the store tomorrow and he was worried because we don’t have masks (well, one construction mask). She mentioned she is making fabric masks for hospitals and said she’d put a pair out on her porch for us if we wanted them! Matt drove over and non-contact picked them up. How nice was that? I can’t imagine it’s a bad idea to wear a mask. Matt said there were a lot of people still on the streets wondering around maskless and ducking into convenience stores. Go home!

How did I miss that Queen Sugar season 4 is on Hulu? It didn’t pop up on my “continue watching” screen. Maybe it just became available? I saw a thumbnail of it in a Hulu ad so I thought I’d check and there it was! How did Nova not think her family was going to react like that? Seriously?