Well, life being locked down in this pandemic can definitely feel like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing- cleaning, laundry, walking- every day, but I really had a feeling of deja vu this week.
A UF Journalism student came over the week before to film me for a project for her TV class project. Her parents had seen photos of my garden on Facebook and suggested interviewing me about gardening in the pandemic. She came Wednesday at 10 a.m. and I showed her my garden. Unfortunately, she didn’t get one of the shots she needed, so she returned the following week, same day, same time and asked me to wear the same clothes and hat I’d worn the week before. Like I said, Groundhog Day. Here’s the resulting product.
Besides that, I’ve learned some new words- Herd Immunity (does this mean we’re cows?), contact testing and tracing. I’ve also signed up for a lot of different accounts I never had before – Zoom, Instacart, Total Wine, Twitter (so I could watch Phantom of the Opera) and the United States Postal Service (to order stamps by mail). With these new accounts, come new passwords, which I quickly forget, leading to resetting of the password and a labyrinth maze of computer hell. I forgot the security question for the USPS, so it instructed me to make a new account, but when I tried to and entered my e-mail, it says: “There is already an account under this name”, leading me back to where I started. Guess I’ll give up and risk my life at the post office.
I signed up for Instacart Express for $9.99 per month since I’ve been using it so much. It will save me the delivery fee. This week I saved $8.92- almost what I spent to sign up, so it’s worth it. My order went better this week, but for some reason I ordered one plum tomato and seven heads of garlic. I did follow Tami’s instructions and followed my shopper on my phone as he shopped. This way I was able to let him know if the replacements he was substituting were acceptable. Despite me say “No, string mozzarella isn’t acceptable as a replacement for a block”, he ignored my orders and now I have three packages of string cheese in my fridge. I did get refunded for it, however. Publix is still out of Clorox Wipes, 409, Charmin TP and yeast and tofu. A lot of bakers and vegetarians out there, I guess.
Our take-out this week was from Atchana’s Thai in Coconut Grove. Atchana is a friend of my sister Elise’s and used to run the “ugly green building” on U.S. 1 serving Thai food. We ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp, Green Curry with Pork, rice and Steamed Dumplings. It was all good and I would definitely get Atchana’s Thai again.
I also ordered a restaurant coupon booklet through Travelzoo. For $25, I will get $25 off orders of $100 or more to: Glass and Vine, Root and Bone, Mi’talia, Fooq’s, Stiltsville and other restaurants; $10 off $50 order from Pubbelly Sushi. $100 does seem like a lot, but I figure it would be a meal and leftovers and, I want to support local restaurants. Travelzoo is in partnership with FIU Hospitality and the South Beach Food and Wine Festival. $5 of every coupon booklet purchased will go to the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality Industry Relief Fund.
Other things I’ve discovered this week. Turkey Bacon is no bacon. It kind of sucks, actually. Since I was out of regular bacon, I decided to give it a try since we had some in the freezer. Its color is that of radioactive baloney and it has a weird scalloped edge, obviously machine-made. It’s basically ground turkey, shaped into a bacon shape and loaded with nitrates. Bottom line: it doesn’t taste very good. The only upside is it’s only 25 calories, but that isn’t enough reason to recommend eating it again.
Zeke apparently caught on to my complaints (hint, hint) of being sick of cooking and he cooked Monday. He made grilled shrimp, which he served over spaghetti in a lemon, garlic sauce (all Wild Fork purchases). It was good and I tried Palmini, hearts of palm cut into pasta like shapes, with it. I mixed it in with spaghetti to cut down on the carb and calorie content. It wasn’t bad, although despite rinsing it repeatedly, it still retained a bit of a bitter, acidic flavor. It’s similar to zucchini noodles, but it comes in a can. If you drown it in enough sauce, it’s acceptable.
I ate ham and hard boiled eggs, ’till it came out of my ears. Sandwiches, omelets, quiches. I’m glad it’s gone. I made this easy quiche from the blog The Frugaler, which doesn’t require a pie crust or flour. It uses Bisquick, much like the zucchini pie from the 80’s. I added some sautéed kale I had in the fridge for a little green and it turned out pretty good. I served it with sautéed mushrooms and leeks and little herb salad I made with parsley and cherry tomatoes from my garden. The last of my Romaine lettuce was looking iffy so, a little helpful hint if you’re out of lettuce- you can make a salad out of herbs you may have growing or on hand. I used parsley- Italian and curly leaf- but basil, dill or mint would work as well. I tossed it with a mustardy vinaigrette. If you’re using herbs from your garden, make sure to rinse them thoroughly in cold, salty water to get rid of the dirt and bugs.
Impossibly Easy Quiche from The Frugaler
- 1 cup cooked ham, bacon, sausage
- 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc…)
- 1 cup Bisquick
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a pie pan with non-stick spray.
- Place your choice of meat in the bottom of the pan. Layer the grated cheese on top of the meat.
- Mix eggs, baking mix and milk together with a whisk or in a blender until smooth. Pour over the cheese and meat mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
I try to write three things every day I’m grateful for. Even in this fearful and stir-crazy time, there’s always something to be thankful for. Things I am grateful for:
- I don’t have to Home School small children. I can only imagine how challenging that would be. Yikes!
- I didn’t lose my job and can work (write) from home.
- I’m healthy and my family’s healthy. I saw a neighbor walking her mother down the street. The mother was on a walker and struggling. I feel empathy for people caring for elderly parents at this time. Also, people who are sick, physically or mentally, hungry, homeless and women trapped in domestically violent situations. I feel blessed.
There are other silver linings during this period.
- People are acting nice to each other. At first, all I felt from other people was fear, but now, as it goes on, I’ve had people saying hello on the streets (unusual in Miami) and sharing things other people need. My friend Tami had a friend who needed flour so I gave her some and she brought me some Everglades tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and small bouquet of flowers. Flour for flowers. The bartering system is back.
- Nature is resurging. From frolicking dolphins in Italy, bears in Yosemite and goats in Wales, animals- without the presence of humans, cars and cruise ships- are making a comeback.
- Free Events. There are so many virtual tours- of museums, travel spots, national parks and free concerts steaming online, lessons- like cooking and guitar, that we definitely have more than our fair share of things to occupy our time and distract us.
Also, some restaurants and theme parks are releasing their formerly secret recipes. Disney Theme parks released their recipe for the Dole Pineapple Whip you can get outside the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room. I made one for lunch and ate it while I watch a You Tube video of the Enchanted Tiki Room. I didn’t use a star shape piping bag, so it didn’t turn out as pretty, but it was just a delicious. It was only three ingredients- 1 big scoop of vanilla ice cream, 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 2 cups of frozen pineapple. Put it in a blender, blend it up and voila! Delicious and oh so refreshing!
And McDonalds released their recipe for their Sausage Egg McMuffin. I made it according to the recipe and just substituted ham (leftover!) for sausage. I didn’t have American cheese (McDonald’s actually has their own formula that melts over a hot English muffin) so used sharp cheddar. The only item you might not have is the egg ring to break the egg into. They sell them at Bed, Bath and Beyond or online. My homemade McMuffin was quite tasty.
We had another Corona Virus Go Away! Zoom Happy Hour this weekend. It was Adele’s Birthday, so we all sang her Happy Birthday as she cooked her own birthday dinner. We were off-key but enthusiastic. Everyone seems to be holding up well during this stressful time, although some of our hair definitely looks better than others.
The Natives are Getting Restless.
I’ve had this sense for the last week or so (at least). People can only be by themselves for SO long without going a little crazy. At least two couples I know, had other couples over to their houses, six feet apart of course. Human connection is crucial.
I also had a Social Distancing Happy Hour, six feet apart, with my Book Club. While there, drinking drinks we’d brought ourselves, I asked everyone what they missed most in this continuing s**t storm of the coronavirus. Most everyone agreed getting their hair done and getting mani-pedis. Guta, an interior designer with fabulous taste, said she missed the gym and shopping to find the perfect, little thing she didn’t know she needed and then, having a leisurely lunch with a girlfriend. Diana, who owns a couple of chain restaurants, said she misses tennis and dancing. She normally takes dance lessons a couple times a week and is in great shape. She’s applied for assistance for her restaurants, but wonders what the restaurant scene will look like, when the dust settles. Vicki, our resident nurse, misses Pilates and going with friends to restaurants. Loli, who hosted, misses getting her hair done, eating out, seeing the water (she calls herself a beach bum) and going to the movies. As a former actress, she says: “streaming is ok, I guess, but like to see movies in the theaters.” I agree!
Sumita, a realtor who started our Book Club and always tries to look on the bright side of things, said “all this”, motioning with her arms to indicate hair, nails etc… Then she elaborated “going to visit my parents (they live in India), going for ice cream on a whim, dinner parties with friends, office meetings with colleagues, hugging a friend.” Louisa, an ESOL teacher, misses being able to visit her mother in Stuart, attending physical therapy sessions and eating out. She also misses her children, who live in different states; any of us with children we can’t see, miss them.
I was supposed to go visit my son Christopher and his wife Courtney in Tallahassee in April, when the weather is glorious and the dogwood and azalea trees are in full bloom. My flight, on April 2nd, was cancelled. I thought about hopping in the car and doing a road trip, but my daughter-in-law is a labor and delivery nurse who works in a hospital, so my son advised against it.
So, I miss road trips and traveling in general. Also, I really miss getting my monthly massage. I need to get my teeth cleaned and this is something I can’t do myself, despite enthusiastic brushing and flossing. They are starting to get that slimy feel. I miss going to Trader Joe’s to shop- everyone there is happy and helpful and they have things you can’t get other places. And also dinner parties- going to or throwing them.
As for what we’ve been watching on TV, we still haven’t finished McMillions (about McDonald’s Monopoly game scandal) but we did enjoy Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rodgers. This documentary, chronicling the life and legacy of Mr. Rodgers, is an upper, and honestly, who doesn’t need that these days?
Up Next: Foods to Fight Viruses and Projects to do Around the House while you’re stuck inside and have nothing else to do.