In My Kitchen – April 2020

How are you all doing out there? I know that we are facing some hard times. In California we are in our third week of shelter-in-place and going a little stir crazy. I am spending a lot of time in the kitchen, but it’s not the same. I’m trying to avoid the grocery store and market, shopping only once a week or less (which is not my common practice).

By the end of the week, when fresh produce (and other essential ingredients) are running out, we find ourselves eating a lot of pantry meals. Some of them have been surprisingly delicious. Others, not so much.

Meanwhile I have been struggling with so many emotions, seemingly all at the same time.

  • I am sad and grieving, for all of us. It is heartbreaking to read what is happening in Italy, and NY, and Detroit…all over the world.
  • I am encouraged and hopeful. I know many people and companies are ramping up research and production to meet our needs in this medical emergency.
  • I am afraid for my family, friends, my community, the world and myself.
  • I feel full of appreciation, respect, pride and even love for those that are stepping up. In my book our medical caregivers, our first responders, and many in our local and state government are my new heroes.
  • The day seems to go so slowly but then again, the day is over before I know it.
  • I am accomplishing very little even though I have all day to do it.
  • And I am mesmerized by the news.

For the first time in a long time, the world feels very small. We are all connected. We are all in this together. Things will never be the same. That might be a hopeful thing.

Exercise helps, taking a walk or a Zoom class or getting out in the garden helps, a lot.

So what’s happening in my kitchen? More ambivalence… I want to spend time in the kitchen. But, then again, I’m not interested in spending time in the kitchen.

Emotions are complicated things aren’t they?

So, in my kitchen, I have pickled asparagus. Spring is happening, ignoring the reports of doom. The asparagus is amazing. I purchased 4 big bunches at the market (before the lockdown) and made 4 quarts of pickled asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus

Pickled Asparagus

I couldn’t decide whether to pickle them tip up or tip down, so I did some of each. Does it make a difference, what do you think? Our weekend brunch favorite is pickled asparagus on avocado toast with a poached egg on top. The sharpness of the pickle contrasts delightfully with the crisp toast, creamy avocado, and the rich soft egg.

I made fennel spice rub with a few adaptations for Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder. There was plenty left over for other dishes.

Roast Fennel Spice

Roast Fennel Spice

Forever roasted pork shoulder

Forever roasted pork shoulder. You will find the recipe for the pork shoulder and the spice rub here.

In my kitchen you will find me using my electric pressure cooker more often. It’s not an Instant Pot but it works the same. The market seems to have large packages of chicken and I cooked a big batch of chicken thighs so we would have leftovers for lunch. It was very successful.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot. You can find the recipe for Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs here.

It’s useful to know you can cook an entire family sized package of thighs quickly. Most of the recipes online call for only four. Now that everyone is home for lunch each day, leftovers are very welcome. Use any kind of rub or spices that are family favorites.

Towards the middle of the week, and thinking about lunches again, I made a pantry soup while there was still a few zucchini and potatoes hanging around. This recipe is endlessly adaptable. I chose to make it more Italian spiced but you could easily change it to Mexican by using beans instead of potatoes, frozen corn, and chili powder. Or Indian if you have ground lamb and some curry powder. Customize it to what you have on hand and the flavor profile you feel like in the moment.

There’s a wonderful book, first published in 1991, called From Pantry to Table by Marlena Spieler. She has some creative cooking ideas and suggestions from a well stocked pantry or kitchen. I know Amazon did not rate it highly but for me it’s a go-to for ideas when my pantry is down to the bottom of the barrel.

Italian Soup - Sausage, Zucchini and Tomato

Italian Soup – Sausage, Zucchini and TomatoThe recipe for Sausage, Zucchini and Tomato soup is here.

In my kitchen I have one new cookbook, recommended by a friend. I haven’t cooked from it yet but am looking forward to it. It may need to wait until I can do some more expansive food shopping.

The Beauty Chef

I do like her emphasis on self care and that your skin reflects what you eat. We all need to be reminded to take care of ourselves right now.

In My Kitchen is a collection of posts from around the world. It’s hosted by Mae from Sherrys Picking’s. Please do check in with us, this month the world is very small. And please, if you are a blogger or writer (or a poet), think about joining us and adding your own thoughts, it will help all of us through these difficult times.

I welcome any comments. What are you doing to stay sane right now?

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – April 2020

  1. You wrote: “the world feels very small.” I totally agree with you. The dimensions of our personal worlds are shrinking while everyone on earth shares an existential risk, whether they know it or not. Your cooking actually appears pretty ambitious to me. I guess shortages vary from place to place: we find chicken hard to get.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • I live in a fairly small community so it could be different. But last week the only chicken available was large family sized packages of bone in thighs, which is why I ended up cooking so many. And it wasn’t my usual organic and humanely raised brand. There wasn’t a whole bird to be had! Things were better when I shopped yesterday, except for paper products. What’s with that anyway? We should go back to using tea towels instead of paper towels.

    • You are welcome Francesca, please stay well and safe. I think I have been reading your blog ever since I started over 5 years ago. I feel like I know you.

      • Oh thanks Liz, your comment has made my day. I have been so slack with communicating lately in the blog world, but have come to realise how important and enduring our friendships are, forged many years ago. xx

  2. Myself as well, there haven’t been many posts the last year or more. But I appreciate the international aspect of keeping in touch even more right now. It’s much more personal than reading the news.

  3. For the first time ever I am not stuck to the TV watching the news. I am trying to stay focussed on routine even while locked in my home. Yesterday we went shopping – I also usually go every day so it is weird to go once a week. Stay safe!

    • Hi Tandy, I cannot watch much of the news on TV. It’s too immediate and strikes at my heart. I can read the news though and do that compulsively, all the latest that comes out around the world and from our scientific experts. Routine helps doesn’t it? Some of the instructors from my gym are doing Zoom classes and that helps put some structure into my day. And, more and more of my regular gatherings (like book club or a board meeting) are being done by Zoom or conference call.

      I will never take a coffee date or restaurant meal for granted again. I miss meeting with my friends although we talk on the phone.

      You stay safe and well. And please keep posting so I know what is going on in the world on a more personal level.

  4. hi liz
    thanks to you too for doing an IMK this month. i am feeling down, and finding it hard to keep blogging – but at least i did IMK! i too am doing lots of cooking and baking. it seems like many people are, if the lack of flour is anything to go by. keep safe!

    • I understand that down feeling, in fact I find myself getting irritated with those folks who are all ‘perky’. There must be something wrong if you don’t feel the pain of the world right now. Sending you a virtual hug. Thank you for hosting IMK, and please do keep blogging. I want to know what’s going on in your corner of the world, from somewhere other than the news. Be well, be safe.

  5. These are certainly weird times! I love your pickled asparagus. My son in law uses it in bloody Mary’s and I think it must be the secret ingredient! But I buy mine. I guess these days I should be pickling! I have so many posts already ready because Iwas supposed to have hand surgery on the 13th, so i planned ahead. Now I wish I could cook everything again! Take care.

    • Sorry about the delay of the hand surgery, all non essential surgeries are postponed here as well as hospitals prepare. And posts that are already written are like money in the bank. Save them for weeks when you are otherwise occupied.

      I have a friend who uses pickled green beans in her bloody Mary, they are good as well.

  6. Working from home and I really feel busier than ever. Same here with the pantry. We do order Hello Fresh but only for two meals every other week (although I may increase that). Otherwise, relying on the pantry and freezer and we are not making out to badly.

    Stay safe!!!!! I appreciated all of your bullet points.

    • I have heard that busyness echoed by other folks who are now working from home. You need to be careful it doesn’t slip into working weekends and after hours. Hello Fresh unfortunately doesn’t deliver here, but hopefully the garden will start to pick up the slack soon.

      And thank you, we all are conflicted right now. Stay well.

  7. Yup, that pretty much sums up how I feel these days. I didn’t quite know how to express my feelings and thoughts but your descriptions are pretty accurate. It’s actually a relief reading them, knowing that we’re not alone, so thanks for that. Also, thanks for cohosting the past 2 weeks. I may need you again in a few weeks. I’ll let you know.

  8. Ciao Liz
    You have very nicely summed up the conflicting emotions/ambivalence I think all of us are feeling in some way. It is important for everyone to stay hopeful, as there will not be a quick fix here. For me, getting stuff done helps take my mind away from worrying about my family. Zoom yoga had done amazing things, and soon the garden will distract me too. I would love to do some writing and artwork, but i just can’t seem to get motivated. Tomorrow i’m off to work for the first time in 2 weeks, so that will be interesting! Ciao and stay safe, Cristina

    • Thank you Cristina, I feel the same way about writing and artwork. Exercise certainly helps a lot. Stay safe and well. Zoom has expanded my world as well, thank goodness.

  9. Thanks for being honest and open with your emotions in this challenging time. I’ve never thought of pickling asparagus, must try that in the spring!

    • Yes, do try it. I love the combination of a little pickled asparagus mixed with mayo or sour cream and served as a sauce with fresh asparagus. Add a poached egg and you are close to heaven. Thanks for visiting and stay safe.

  10. Liz, these are indeed weird and difficult times, but they shall pass with time.
    FYI, I love pickled asparagus. We used to pickle them when we lived in Washington state and asparagus prices were very reasonable. Like Mimi’s SiL, I also like them in a Bloody Mary or just to munch on. Oh, we always put the spear towards the bottom of the jar as it made getting them back out after pickling easier.

  11. Hi Ron, yes eventually it will pass. I do wonder what the world will look like at the end of it. I can see it going both ways and will probably be a combination. They are easier to get out if the tip is down, that’s how I will do them next time. Stay safe and well.

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