what we ate

Day 11 Recap: Gussied Up Ramen & Phryne Fisher (3/23/20)

We sliced up and marinated the second half of the package of thin pork chops we opened on Saturday in soy sauce, mirin, ginger and garlic. Today I sauteed them, cut up some nori, made some 6 1/2 minute eggs and added some peas to a packet of Nissin RAOH tonkotsu ramen. It’s their “premium” line of instant ramen and it’s really good! It even makes the cloudy broth you find in tonkotsu ramen at restaurants. I buy it at Shoppers. It’s more expensive than their Top Ramen but still under around $3. Totally worth keeping on hand. It was a great lunch on a dreary day.

We had hot dogs a few days ago and thus opened the packages of both the hot dogs and rolls so I had them again tonight. Matt’s stomach wasn’t feeling great so he just had some saltines. Normally I wouldn’t have hot dogs after having ramen for lunch but the rolls aren’t going to last much longer (they were already slightly stale so I revived them in the oven) and I don’t feel like hot dogs keep too long out of the package either. In the long run, I don’t think it really matters. I’ll have some less sodium rich meals tomorrow.

Non-food related activities:

Marylanders have been urged to stay at home and non-essential businesses have been closed. I’m disappointed he is still allowing gatherings of 10 or more and isn’t saying in more plain language what staying at home means but it’s better than nothing!

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears premiered on Acorn today! We loved the show and have been eagerly awaiting the movie. Her outfits were amazing as always!

daily recap · what we ate

Day 10 Recap: Pikelets, Bacon & Khoresh Bademjan (3/22/20)

Time seems to have lost all meaning to me but it is the weekend. Matt’s busy working from home during the week so I’ve been doing most of the cooking but he’s doing all the cooking this weekend.

I requested pikelets for brunch. I’ve read about them in Australian books for years and I figured now’s my chance to finally eat them! We don’t often make breakfast/brunch/lunch at home on the weekends so I never got around to making them. I am much better at waffles than pancakes so this seemed like a good recipe to pass off to Matt. They use mostly staples but not too much of any one ingredient. I’m seeing a lot of people making bread which is fun but bread uses so much flour! Pancakes are a good way to scratch that carby itch using less flour. We also had bacon, we buy it at Costco and freeze it and had just stocked up last month.

I bought two eggplants when I last left the store and thought today was the best day to use them up. Eggplant are pretty sturdy as fresh vegetables do but they don’t last forever! They had started to look wrinkly but somehow they were fine when I sliced them up. Maybe because they weren’t bruised? I had them balancing on mustards on the top shelf of the fridge. I bought them over 10 days ago! The next expiration date was stew meat (3/30/20) so I thought maybe we could make a stew with them both. We have plenty of time to monitor a pot on the stove right now!

Lucky me, Matt made khoresh bademjan. We even had some dried Persian limes we had bought for a recipe a while back but I’m sure it would be good without them. He used this recipe and it turned out great. We don’t have a ton of leftovers but I think with some fresh rice it might be enough for lunch one day.

Non-food related activities/thoughts:

We watched Bohemian Rhapsody. It was okay but I thought it would have more backstory for the band. It was really just them arguing and preforming. I read Follow Me by Kathleen Barber. It was pretty good but not exceptional. Really the day felt long but we didn’t do much at all. Matt did practice the ukulele again.

We are trying to plan for when we might actually leave the house. It’s hard to know what’s going on or what will be. We have food for a good bit but it won’t last forever. I’m aiming for maybe the beginning of April for re-stocking. I’d really rather do it in person vs ordering online because I’d like to be able to pick food by expiration date and make decisions about what will last and I don’t want to put other people at risk. When I’ve tried ordering groceries online I always end up with food that has to be used with a couple days and that is not the goal here. I’m hoping that by the time we go out they will be further limiting the numbers of people in stores at once and maybe even screening people for fevers at the door.

daily recap · what we ate

Day 9 Recap: Popcorn & Pork Piccata with Gnocchi (3/21/20)

We split what was little was left of the chicken and rice from Thursday for breakfast. Then I had a snack of air-popped popcorn with butter and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Elote seasoning.

For dinner Matt made pork piccata with some vacuum packed gnocchi I picked up awhile back. I had earmarked the very thin pork chops for schnitzel but I realized we are a little low on canola oil. We strained it after making the chicken (which normally I don’t do) and kept it but I want to be careful with the oil. The packages was only about 1 1/2 lbs but had 10 chops in it. Since we are home to cook, we cooked half and marinated the other half for another meal vs making it all at once. Reheating such thin chops is tricky.

Anyway, it was a simple piccata with just stock, capers, lots of lemon juice, red pepper flakes and a dusting of flour. Lots of flavor yet few ingredients is the goal. Citrus keeps very well at room temp or refrigerated.

Non-food related activities:

We watched The Rescuers on Disney + and I worked on my embroidery. I forgot how slow going hand stitching is! Matt practiced the ukulele again; he dug out some old music books he has for it, one is from 1914! I read a bit.

My Causebox subscription (Hanukkah gift) arrived. It was shipped almost two weeks ago! I wiped down the box before I opened it. Nearly everything inside was in biodegradable protective packaging so I wiped that off and tossed the fabric stuff (reusable produce bags and a handkerchief) to be washed. It was nice getting mail but I’m not seeing me using any of it soon! The big items were a purse, a bento box and the produce bags. There was a bottle of “calming” spray so that might get a work out.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 8 Recap: Shakshuka, Hot Dogs & Tots (3/20/20)

For lunch I made shakshuka using a “breakfast sauce” I bought at Aldi months ago. Oddly the directions have you adding a lot of ingredients—onions, garlic, peppers, parsley— to the sauce which seems to defeat the advantage of using the jar vs making it from scratch with a (cheaper) can of regular tomatoes. Anyway, I didn’t want to waste my reserves of fresh onions and garlic on a jarred sauce so I stirred in a bit of dehydrated onions, granulated garlic and some ground hot chile into the sauce. I sauteed the rest of the seemingly never-ending bag of arugula and the remaining fresh spinach I had from over a week ago then stirred in the sauce. I added the leftover chickpeas from last night, heated it through, and then poached the eggs in it. I served it over couscous because we didn’t have pita. It was tasty enough but not something I feel like I need to buy again. We ended up some couscous and sauce leftover so I stirred it together and refrigerated it to do something(?) with it another day. It was surprisingly filling!

I took it very easy with dinner and had hot dogs (with slightly squished brioche hot dog rolls from Aldi), bagged salad and tots for dinner. There is a place in Fenwick Island, Delaware just outside of Ocean City, Maryland that has great “fancy” hot dogs. The first time we went there we asked what brand of hot dogs they used and they told us they used Berks. The brand seems to be fairly regional because only PA-based Weis Markets sell them here in the Baltimore area but they are my new go-to. They have a great flavor and aren’t too greasy.

I’m kind of worn out from making two meals a day plus making a cake and cookies this week. A lot of the fresh meat I gave from here on out isn’t quite as hands-on—more roasts and less smaller cuts of meat—which will be nice. Matt won’t have to work over the weekend and is eager to take over some cooking duties as well.

Non-food related activities/thoughts:

I started working on an embroidery kit I bought at (surprise!) Aldi a few months ago. I haven’t embroidered in over ten years but why not now?

I talked to my mom who is doing well and staying home with my dad. I also talked to my neighbor from a very safe distance and she is taking all of this seriously too. I hope more people do and that more states start making people stay inside. I’m still seeing people who otherwise seem to be taking this seriously talk about how they are “socially isolating” and telling family members to stay home but then they getting take out every night or talking about how they went to three stores looking for peppers. Stay home! These are not people in essential jobs or who can’t work from home either. Many of them already had flexible, work at home jobs.

Seemingly healthy people can spread the disease and the incubation time is so long (nearly 2 weeks!) that you might still get sick from an exposure you had back before things really took a turn nationally. I really want us to make it out of this alive and knowing we did everything we possibly could do to not spread it to others or endanger other people. I feel bad enough getting prescriptions delivered and making someone deliver a custom order I had placed a month ago that couldn’t be canceled, I’m really not going to make someone do my grocery shopping or cook my dinner as long as I am an able-bodied person. Delivery workers are under a lot of pressure and are putting themselves (and you!) at risk. There’s also no reason to go to the store daily. Stock up on whatever they have and stay home until you are totally out. Minimize your exposure.

Matt took our dog Lulu for a walk after he logged off work. We have a large fenced in yard despite living in the city and little dogs so we don’t have to walk them unless we want. Pippi can’t go on walks because she is an elderly dachshund with back issues but Lulu enjoys them. Lulu has been driving me nuts today because everyone is home in the neighborhood and being noisy. The trees are still bare so she has clear sightlines and nothing is muffled so it sounds like our neighbors are right in our yard woo-ing, building a deck(?) and shrieking at each other. Normally we don’t really hear anyone! Lulu only has two modes: protective rage and extreme cuddling. No in-between. The noisy neighbors are really activating the rage side. Hopefully, the walk tired her out and she’ll chill. Apparently, her feisty behavior kept people from coming too close so yay, social distancing success. Matt walked her on the median to further avoid people as well.

daily recap · what we ate

Day 7(!) Recap: Mochiko Chicken, Chocolate Cake & Mediterranean-ish Wraps (3/19/20)

Happy Spring! If I have to be stuck at home it’s nice to see flowers and hear the birds chirping.

Last Thursday was the last day either of us went out. I did an early morning shop for some last minute items (it turned out to be good timing because things really ramped up after that) and Matt went into work but was sent home because someone in the building felt sick so I counted that as our first day since we were both home before lunch time. We found out today that someone in his building at work tested positive so we are extra happy we are taking this seriously.

I’m glad we decided to stay home, we are still in the incubation time and could be spreading it without knowing. My hope is to stay home at least until they mandate protections in grocery stores like Italy did—taking the temperatures of people before they are allowed in and limiting the number of customers at a time.

Today I made our main meal at lunch today again. It seems silly to wait all day to make “dinner” when I could get all of that work out of the way early. Mochiko Chicken is a favorite of ours and if you aren’t going to fry chicken now, then when? It didn’t yield too much in the way of leftovers but I’m going to trying think of a way to turn it into another meal for the two of us. I served it with sticky rice sprinkled with furikake, and steamed broccoli. I peeled the broccoli stumps and cooked them too–it’s not the time to waste food!

In the afternoon I made a quick snack cake with some pantry staples. It’s based on a old fashioned “wacky” or “crazy” cake which were popular during wartime and the Depression due to budgets and rationing. It doesn’t use any fresh ingredients (so it’s actually vegan) but it’s really tasty and only dirties up one bowl. I posted the recipe here.

For dinner I made wraps. I mixed one (5 oz) can tuna (drained) with half a (15 oz) can of chickpeas (drained), mayo, Goddess Dressing (sub tahini or leave it out), crumbled feta, chopped celery, red onion and lemon pepper. I lined the spinach wrap (from Aldi–they are like $1.49 for a pack of six and tasty) with leftover arugula from last week. It’s the never ending bag of arugula. I think this is the fourth meal I’ve used it in!

Non-food related activities:

Watched a little All-American on Netflix at lunch. It’s like a 2020 version of The OC. Why can’t I resist the teen drama? I read Lost Restaurants of Baltimore by Suzanne Loudermilk and Kit Waskom Pollard. It was neat seeing the pictures of old Baltimore but the entries were mostly summarized old Baltimore Sun reviews and a few interviews. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that.

We also watched the last available episode of Little Fires Everywhere and Stumptown on Hulu. Stumptown is always enjoyable! I liked seeing more of Dex’s backstory.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 6 Recap: Mi Goreng & Baked Potatoes (3/18/20)

It’s a bright sunny day today! I swear until this week I’ve never heard a child play in their yard on our street but now it is clear more kids live near me than I thought.

I kept it very simple today, I spent the most of the day working on a new project. For lunch I made us packets of Indomie Mi Goreng noodles. These Indonesian noodles are only 69¢ (I normally buy them at Shoppers) and one of my emergency lunch standbys. I normally add some frozen peas to the water while it’s boiling and before adding the noodles and top it with a fried egg but it is also a very good way to stretch out some leftovers. I made extra pork chops the other day so I sliced them up, along with the leftover zucchini from the same dish, and heated them in a pan while I cooked the noodles and peas. Then I followed the instructions for flavoring the noodles (there are quite a few packets in that tiny package!) and toss the noodles with the pork. Easy, filling and more interesting than simply reheating a pork chop but just as quick. I posted a (not terribly enticing) photo on Instagram of the final dish. It was very tasty though!

For dinner we had baked potatoes again because I bought large Russets a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t want them to go bad before we eat them. I topped them with the leftover smoked salmon, sour cream, red onion and “everything” seasoning in a sort of homage to my favorite bagel. It seems a little Marie Antoinette to be eating smoked salmon during this time but hey, it was under $10 for 12 oz and we had it. Might as well enjoy ourselves!

Tomorrow I am going to cook some boneless chicken thighs (marinating them tonight) but it was nice to have two days where I was mostly using up leftovers vs making fresh food. I think that will help stretch out our groceries. I’m glad I shopped early and bought a lot of things with far off expiration dates so we hopefully won’t have to really dip into the canned goods unless we want to. Right now I’m focusing on using up things before they go bad and trying not to go overboard with the garlic and onions. I feel like a garlic hoarder!

Non-Food Related Activities:

I continued playing Cribbage with Grandpas and I think I’m actually understanding the rules. I’m 7/6 with my made up grandpa Oscar. I watched This is Us-I’m not sure if I really like any of the characters besides William and I guess the kids but for some reason I watch it each week. Last night we watched Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist which I love so it is hard not to compare the two. I worked on a mind-numbing project that hopefully will bring some money in. I don’t know how many people are going to be hiring freelance recipe developers right now. Although I am excellent at recipes using pantry staples and tinned seafood! Hire me!

At night we watched Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. I remember enjoying the book although not as much as her earlier one and I’m intrigued to see how they turn it into a show. I remember thinking that it was one of those books that had to take place in the nineties or a good bit of the plot (where’s Izzy?) would be undone by cell phones.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 5 Recap: Irish Cheddar and Chicken Fried Rice (3/17/20)

We took it easy for lunch today, I had some canned chicken and dumpling soup (I bought like 25 cans of soup a few weeks ago when they were on sale for $1.25), red pepper crackers and some triple layered Irish cheddar we bought at Costco. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

For dinner we made fried rice using the planned leftovers of chicken and zucchini I made on Sunday. It’s super simple and doesn’t really require a recipe but I posted a rough recipe here in case you need it. I would normally use more garlic but I’m trying to conserve it. I also normally add peas but we realized that while I bought a ton of food we are out of re-sealable bags and all of our bag clips are in use. All of our frozen vegetables are still in new packaging. We really need some reusable re-sealable bags but it was one of those purchases I put off because we don’t use many (which is why I didn’t realize that we were nearly out); just a few when freezing leftovers or marinating small cuts of meat. So now I need to come up with a creative solution for storing frozen leftovers. The freezer-safe glass containers we do have are already in the freezer full of meals.

Non-food related activities:

I picked some daffodils from our backyard. Normally I leave them but I thought we could use some cheering up! I caught up on some shows on Hulu while answering emails and meal planning. I finished reading My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. I liked it despite the drama around the publication and the subject matter. I read Brother & Sister by Diane Keaton–the 50th book I’ve read this year. I’m a volunteer judge for this year’s Baldwin Prize, a local scholarship for students of City College HS, so I read some essays.

In the evening we watched Zomboat! on Hulu if you are up for some British pandemic hilarity on a narrowboat. The main character is one of the women from Crazyhead; she really has found her niche after her stint on Downton Abbey.

recipe · repurposing leftovers

DIY Fried Rice

I’m not terribly sure if you need a recipe for this but here’s what we do when we make fried rice. The amounts of each ingredient is very flexible–scale up if cooking for a crowd.

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 cups cubed cooked leftover chicken or other cooked protein (we used leftovers from this meal)

2-3 cups cold, cooked rice (leftovers or make it a day ahead and refrigerate it)

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1-2 cups leftover vegetables–we used chopped up zucchini from the chicken dish and 3/4 cup of “coleslaw mix” (shredded cabbage and carrot) from sandwiches from last week

1/4-1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)

1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 eggs, beaten

Directions:

In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the vegetables, meat and rice and saute about five minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir fry, scrambling the eggs and heating through the whole mixture. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

repurposing leftovers

Corned Beef Leftover Ideas

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Hopefully those of us who can be are all safe inside and not partying and spreading disease!

Corned beef is always on sale this time of year, has excellent expiration dates (I have one that doesn’t expire until May in my fridge now) and yields a ton of leftovers! Perfect for quarantine cooking. If you are lucky enough to have one, here are some recipes I’ve developed over the years that will help you use it up.

Extra Credit:

Have a brisket? Corn your own beef! Want to go even further? Make your own rye bread! Your own deli mustard! Sauerkraut!

daily recap · what we ate

Day 4 Recap: Pork Chops, Smoked Salmon and Beet Salad (5/16/20)

I made our main meal for lunch again. I made pork chops (expiration date 3/20/20) with zucchini (again, the zucchini was about a week old and I didn’t think it would last until tomorrow) that I served with baked potatoes. Normally I’d serve it with rice but I’ve had these large baking potatoes a couple of weeks and I wanted to use them up. I posted my recipe for stove top pork chops with zucchini sambal oelek .

We are a family of two but even in non-quarantine situations I normally make twice as much food as we need for dinner and we have leftovers the next day for lunch–me at home and Matt at work. Since we are both home, I don’t have to just reheat the leftovers for lunches, I can turn them into something different to add some more variety. It also will help stretch out my fresh meat reserves because cooked meat keeps longer than opened packages of fresh and I won’t have to totally cook from scratch so much. Normally I’d be making something totally fresh (normally involving some sort of meat or seafood) for dinner every night but now I can plan one easier meal a day like sandwiches, canned soup, brunch foods etc and only cook one meal’s main protein every other day or less.

For example, yesterday we had chicken for dinner and tomorrow we are going to make chicken fried rice with it. Today we had pork chops and I am planning to make a noodle dish with the leftover pork on Wednesday.

I made cookies using a bag of Reese’s Pieces and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I’ve had in the cabinet since the fall. I posted the recipe on Coconut & Lime. I also made a batch of cold brew concentrate. I’m not a huge coffee drinker but I do love caffeine and want to stretch out my supply of my true love, cans of Coke.

For dinner we had salad made with arugula (leftover from last week’s trout salad), beets (I used Love Beets which are precooked and vacuum sealed and available at Costco for less than I pay for fresh beets but you can roast your own), blue cheese, and red onion drizzled with balsamic vinegar along with crackers with smoked salmon we bought last month from Costco and this 3x protein cream cheese spread.

Non-food related activities:

Matt worked from home successfully. I did a Generation Clay Ultra Violet Brightening Purple Clay Mask while watching season two of Big Little Lies and answering emails. I’m not sure why they needed a season two?

I turned in some work I did for a local food related book that will hopefully be published this spring. I also wrote up and posted the three recipes I mentioned above. I pointed out that getting take out endangers the delivery person who can get infected and spread the disease to their family, coworkers and those getting the delivery and should be avoided (buy gift cards instead if you want to help!) to the dining reporter, Christina Tkacik, of the Baltimore Sun who tweeted a comment suggesting getting take out was our civic duty and she blocked me on twitter after making a really in bad taste, flippant joke. People are dying. Please stay home and limit interactions to what is truly essential. Take out is not a necessity for any able bodied person.

In the evening we watched the newest Murdoch Mysteries on Acorn and a couple of episodes of of Columbo –one about an orchid collector who fakes a kidnapping and one guest starring Myrna Loy and Blythe Danner. Anyone else comfort watching out there? I don’t have the attention span for anything too involved or subtitled.