Quarantine Meals #1

These first few (or many) posts will be a retrospective… as I write this, it’s March 31st, but we officially quarantined our household on Friday, March 13th. That’s two and a half weeks – so far – for those who are counting. The existential dread of waiting to see if we have the virus has lifted, so let’s look back at the excellent ways we’ve been eating.

Friday the 13th, Little Chef went to school for the last time, and Littlest Chef and I ran some errands. It was Spouse’s first day working from home, as well. We did one more “panic stock-up” at Greengrocer Foodhub, and I stopped at Supreme Bakery for some bread and rolls.

That night, we had delicious sandwiches – tomato for the 5 year-old, but BBQ Baked Tofu for the adults.

Everything about this sandwich was amazing. The tomato came from Greengrocer – I don’t know what voodoo the farmer was working, but that tomato actually tasted like it was in-season! The greens were also from Greengrocer – pea shoots and swiss chard. Barbecue baked tofu is easy, though requires a little time. You take the tofu out of the packaging, wrap it in paper towels, and place it in between 2 cookie sheets. Place some gentle weight on top – I use soup cans – and leave it for an hour or two. Then slice, put into a container, and top with the marinade of your choice (in this case, barbecue sauce). Leave it in the fridge to steep as long as you please – the longer the better – and when you’re ready, put the slices on a baking sheet lined with foil (you’ll thank me at cleanup) and bake at 375. Flip the tofu after about 10-15 minutes, and bake for another 10-15, until the texture seems right. It should be dense and not watery anymore, with a little more backbone than regular firm tofu. Don’t fear any burned bits of barbecue sauce – just like when cooking wings, that’s bound to happen. The finishing touch here was the Portuguese rolls from Supreme Bakery.

After my delicious dinner and the usual routine of getting the kids to bed, I had a conversation with my sister-in-law that spooked me. She felt that we should be prepared for longer than the official reports were saying (and it turns out, she was right, though not as dire as she was warning). Of course, this came at the worst time of year for me – we’re skidding through the end of the off-season. I was purposely letting my freezer run down so I could defrost it before the mania of CSA season. I didn’t can much of anything last year, because I had an infant. I began to panic… and blanch and freeze every vegetable in my fridge that would tolerate it.

 

 

No harm done. Actually, the broccoli in the last picture went into my dinner tonight, but that’s a post for a different time. Stay tuned for further quarantine meal chronicles…

 

Welcome Back – Quarantine Edition

Now that life is settling down into this strange new normal that is our quarantine, I figured it was time to get this blog fired up again for the season. Ever since Littlest Chef was born, my cooking life has, understandably, suffered. We’ve eaten out more, gotten take out more, and relied on quick and easy meals more. That’s understandable and part of an era in parenting. However, with this new shakeup, we’re obviously at home, so I’ve had a chance to start getting excited about cooking again.

Let’s talk shopping. When a mandatory quarantine, to varying degrees, began to obviously loom, everyone went crazy. I did not want to be part of the throng of people at ShopRite. It didn’t feel safe or wise, plus I couldn’t deal with the stress of it. In a way that honestly aligns with my principles anyway, I turned super local for my needs. I bought bread from Supreme Bakery and did last minute food stocking from Greengrocer Food Hub. I ordered basically everything else I needed online. I attempted an Instacart order that failed miserably; after scheduling it days in advance, the shopper abandoned the cart during the shopping because the app was being glitchy. We ended up needing to cancel my order, but Instacart’s customer service was really kind and generous with some compensation for my trouble.

As the shutdown intensified, Chelsa moved Greengrocer’s operation to an order-online and contactless pickup model. It’s worked fabulously. We’ve been able to be eating fresh, healthy foods while maintaining the integrity of our self-quarantine. I can’t remember a time when salad tasted quite so good. I also got in on a group order from a wholesaler, so I was able to get things like hummus, seltzer, flour, etc.

The interesting thing is that, by piecing my groceries together and working with what is available, I’ve basically been back in CSA mode- looking at what’s in front of me and trying to find interesting ways to turn it into healthy meals and snacks for my family. What better time to get this blog back up and running? If you follow the Instagram account (@omgcsa), you’ll have already gotten a good preview of what’s been going on in my kitchen thus far, but I’ll break it up into a series of posts here. I’ll likely also have interludes to talk about the quarantine and to share tips and information that I have. I won’t be talking about the disease itself – there’s plenty of that going on on social media, and it is not my field of expertise. We are, however, in strange times when it comes to procuring meals, and that is an area I can speak to with confidence.

I encourage each of you to record your experiences during this strange time. I read someone’s observation recently that we are the ones who will be creating the primary sources that historians will be referencing decades from now. Even if it’s just a personal journal, even if it’s just a Google Doc with your thoughts jotted down – record your navigation through these challenges.

Be well.