Recent food and random Monday silliness

Today was hard—one of those days where I thought I had all my ducks in a row only to be asked why the sheep were still out to pasture.

A goofy image, but how I feel.

The teenager and I have been eating well. My neighbor has been sharing some of her Hungryroot deliveries. If she doesn’t like it, she sends it to my house.

That’s how I discovered that I like polenta.

So this weekend, I made spaghetti with Hungryroot’s Spicy Thai peanut sauce and sautéed fresh radishes and frozen stir fry vegetables in sesame oil and Bragg’s liquid aminos.

For breakfast that morning we’d had scrambled eggs in homemade crepes with turkey bacon, Gouda and a pickle.

Today for breakfast, the teenager had the last of the Thai peanut sauce and bacon on a bagel.

For lunch today we had leftover spaghetti, vegetable dumplings and Green Giant Steamfresh superfood edamame mix. So yummy.

Dinner was salad with sesame dressing and Hungryroot lemongrass tofu.

And yesterday the teenager baked me the most amazing dark chocolate cookies with dark chocolate chips and piles of fresh coconut.

My dear friend and traveling companion M got to meet Nala over FaceTime today and commented how she was more cuddly and quiet than he expected.

She’s been very tired lately, but she’s been waking often in the night.

Nana sleeping on my chest

And for one last burst of cheer, here’s a pile of kittens:

And the teen and I did some taste-testing:

Strawberry Twinkies

Lemon Hostess Cupcakes

Shopping is different now

My teenager wanted junk food and wanted out of the house so she accompanied her father grocery shopping. At Target. Her choice.

I made her a list, downloaded the Target Circle app to her phone, logged her into my account and loaded all my coupon.

We weren’t at the point where we needed groceries, but if things are going to get scarce, I want to be ready. I’m not hoarding but I’m trying to stay ahead of what people want next.

I use a lot of bleach, white vinegar, Borax powder and baking soda when I clean because of all the animals so I asked her to grab them if she saw them.

Flour, cooking oil, tuna fish, peanut butter. Things like that. Well, tuna is getting more scarce so I asked her to get canned chicken. It was that or the expensive tuna. Next time we’ll grab some Spam.

She even nabbed a bottle of acetaminophen— PM. But hey, if I need the acetaminophen I might need sleep, too.

This morning for breakfast we had the last of our homemade crepes, turkey bacon, scrambled egg and smoked Gouda (with pickles).

The teenager and I FaceTimed my parents— which was a riot because I don’t think they ever FaceTimed before so they were struggling with the camera angles and my stepmom was showing me pages from her cookbook while my daughter chased cats around the house.

And then I got a text. My prescription was ready at CVS.

The teen and I had a 30% off coupon expiring today so we walked the half mile to the pharmacy. I got my prescription. We got a bottle of acetaminophen without sleep aid. And she got a gallon of Arizona iced tea. We got some other impulse buys that included a strawberry Twinkie, which resulted in a very silly video of us:

Taste test of the Strawberry Twinkie

Recipe: our own spicy tortilla chips

Even before these Coronavirus quarantine times and empty grocery store shelves, I have long practiced frugal living and using everything I can of my groceries— down to composting my food waste.

For example, every time my little dog friend comes to visit, she brings a rotisserie chicken for her meals. I always save the carcass in my freezer to make chicken bone broth in my crock pot.

So a couple weeks ago I was cleaning the fridge, I found a pack of flour tortilla shells that said “use by December 30, 2019.” But I didn’t throw them out. They were actually still soft, but there’s nothing worse than going to wrap a taco or make a sandwich and the shell splits in the middle because it was dry and stale.

I put the shells aside to make homemade Doritos.

I decided today was the day.

  1. First, I cut these four shells into eight triangles each.
  2. Because I am low on oil, I opted for a small pan and a big dollop of coconut oil. I heated the oil until it was bubbly but not sputtering.
  3. I dropped the triangles in, turning each after about 30 seconds as they browned very quickly.
  4. I dropped them into a small bowl where the teenager sprinkled them with spices and Parmesan I had put out for her to choose.

5. Then she moved them back to the main plate.

These were amazing. Crunchy yet fluffy. Though the teenager did overdo it on the chili powder so some were very spicy.

Crepes and the evaporating weekend

The teenager and I made crepes with Nutella and banana for breakfast and while they were delicious— let me assure you neither of us will be employed as a street vendor in France any time soon.

Our crepes were either small or large and reminiscent of cartoon characters.

The teenager is preparing to go to her dad’s for a few days. So later she’ll practice some low brass musical instruments for me. And I’ll come to terms with the fact that somehow the weekend is ending.

But let me relish the crepe memory:

An unexpected surprised— my friends Rachel called. She moved to Florida years ago and I don’t see her as much as I used to.

She was one of my freelance writers when I served as managing editor of Lehigh Valley News Group.

Through tired eyes

I. Am. Exhausted.

March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.

Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.

And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.

My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.

So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.

And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.

Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)

Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.

And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!

Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.

To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:

And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):

Universal Yums March 2020

Sunday update in the midst of the Pandemic

These are indeed interesting times.

My mom and I went to Grocery Outlet because I wanted some fresh produce. Got blood oranges, spaghetti squash, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, and fresh Brussel sprouts. I was looking for items that would store nicely if something does confine us with COVID-19.

When I got home, the teenager helped me dig a splinter out of my foot and treat it with betadine.

We did two loads of laundry and the teen taught the budgies to hand feed.

We stripped and made both our beds— which ended up with some Oz antics.

And I made two delicious meals for myself prior to my fasting bloodwork tomorrow: leftover sesame chicken with pan-seared Brussel sprouts seasoned with four color peppercorns and tofu burger on whole grain wheat with avocado, sautéed radish and dill havarti cheese.

Of course, the afternoon led to some discussions among my neighbors of whether or not Coronavirus is worse than the normal flu. Does it matter? Flu outbreaks have killed people at fairly regular intervals. I’m not concerned that I will die from it, but I am concerned that I could help spread it if I’m not careful.

The neighbor we went to dinner last night spent the evening playing Yahtzee with another neighbor whose son just came home from college. The son woke up with a 102 degree fever today coughing. And his lab partner just got home from Germany.

And there’s a presumptive positive case in the next town over where my in-laws live. So it’s coming.

And I’m not an alarmist or panic-stricken but I agree that we all should be limiting our interactions. The more careful we are now, hopefully we can minimize the impact on our community and our economy.

And here’s some animal photos:

Just another Saturday

I woke up this morning worried about things I can’t control, and to a cat coughing up a hairball somewhere in the darkness of my room. It was 4 a.m. and to get myself back to sleep, I keep imagining a cleansing white light.

I imagined the white light getting brighter and brighter. It filled my house, came up my stairs and saturated my room. It brought me calm and helped me get to sleep.

I finally gave up on sleep around 7 a.m. but laid in bed until 7:30. I got up, fed the cats, started a load of laundry and cared for the birds.

Then I finished the first season of Hell’s Kitchen while folding clean laundry and hanging wet wash.

I had a piece of toast, put dishes away, washed the pots and pans, and scrubbed the kitchen counter (even the trivet and the toaster— have to periodically get those crumbs out of the toaster.)

And I found what could be very handy if COVID-19 ends up in my neighborhood: a bottle of Hibiclens the doctor told the teenager to use in the shower before her surgery in November.

My college professor neighbor and I had coffee on her porch, while I was clad in my African dress that I bought in Djibouti for my trip to Somalia.

I vacuumed the sun porch. Did some necessary paperwork. Gave Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, a shower. Scrubbed the tub, but not as well as I would have liked.

But I didn’t strip my bed or play with my new make up.

This evening my other neighbor took us to dinner at La Bella’s as a thank you for watching her dog.

Amazing Bread

The teenager decided to compliment our server every time she came to the table. I had chicken penne vodka. The child had seafood spaghetti vodka. The portions were ginormous and the seafood seemed good. I’m not a seafood fan.

See those bumpy calamari?

I think I’ll have enough leftovers for TWO lunches. As with the teen. And my neighbor. And then my neighbor took us to Owwowcow for ice cream. I got cinnamon bourbon.

The food was scrumptious but made me sad because I’m still having mild dental issues. My neighbor is looking at a root canal so we’re a good pair.

And now we’re home. Roomba is vacuuming my bedroom.

The teen is trying cone incense for the first time. She tried to pick natural varieties that wouldn’t burn my eyes and sinuses. She asked me what to burn, so we went for the cleansing sandalwood— vanilla sandalwood to be exact.

I used to use sandalwood soap to bathe before I practiced rituals and vanilla is a very pure, comforting flavor and scent to me.

I asked the teen, who now has her own altar with her own selected candles on it, why do you burn incense?

She answered, “because it clears my sinuses and helps me focus.”

Good girl, I thought.