A friend wrote that she was not liking her own cooking in isolation, so she and her husband were resorting to take-out. It made me sad for her, because I am having fun with the challenge of what I can and do fix. Granted, much of the time I’m cooking for just me. We are only getting groceries either delivered or curbside pick-up, and there is a great time lapse between ordering and receiving, so it’s hard to plan. I may run out of ideas, but for now my mind is full of possibilities.
Some essentials: I find it is really important to have sharp cheddar cheese in the fridge and tuna in the pantry. And you always have a meal if you have eggs:
Here are a few of the things I’ve done:
Baked a huge baked potato and mashed it with chopped green onion, crumbled bacon, grated sharp cheddar, and lots of butter. Re-stuffed the shells, and baked one for dinner one night, one for lunch a day or so later. I laid thinly sliced cheddar over the top of the lunch potato before baking it. Should have taken the picture before I tried to transfer it to a plate.
Made soup out of things I found in the freezer—beans in tomato sauce, orzo pasta, corn, peas, slices of Polish sausages. Made a base of chicken broth and a can of diced tomatoes. When serving (to myself) I topped it with grated Parmesan.
Made tuna salad, after we scored a whole, very fresh loaf of good Jewish rye bread. Next up, I think I’ll do tuna salad, top it with cheese, and bake—a tuna melt. I still intend to make tuna pasties, but that’s a bit of a chore and I find myself getting lazy these days.
Last night, I baked eggs—a new discovery for me, and I loved it. Here’s a sort-of recipe:
½ slice sourdough bread
½ can chopped spinach (fresh would be better, but we don’t have it, so I’m making do)
Grated sharp cheddar
2 tsp. milk
Grease an individual casserole dish thoroughly. Line bottom with torn bread. Layer spinach on next and top with generous amount of cheese. Crack two eggs on top, being careful not to break. Salt and pepper to taste, and cover eggs with the milk so they don’t dry out.
Bake at 350 until eggs are set to your personal taste. I like them runny, so you can stir ingredients together.
Wish I’d thought to take a picture. You can vary the layers as you want—a different vegetable, another type of cheese. .Just use the technique.
A thread on the New York Times Cooking Community Facebook page (that’s a mouthful) had varying opinions on creamed tuna—apparently you either love it or hate it. For me, it’s comfort food, and it’s on my to-make list. Here is another sort-of recipe:
1 or 2 green onions, chopped
1 medium stalk celery, diced
1 Tbsp. butter more or less
1 Tbsp. flour more or less
About 1 cup milk
1 can water-packed albacore tuna, flaked
About a half cup or less petit green peas, defrosted
A splash of white wine
Salt and pepper
For serving: toast, rice, pasta, your choice
Sauté onion and celery until just soft; sprinkle with flour and stir in thoroughly to make a roux. Slowly add milk, stirring as you do, until you get a sauce of the consistency you want. Add tuna and peas and cook over medium-low until warmed through.
I’m going to put mine on a piece of that good rye bread, toasted.
You can use this same technique for chicken or, even—dare I say it?—chipped beef, though for the latter you might want to omit the peas and wine and season with a dash of Worcestershire. Or maybe red wine? Garlic?
Tonight, smothered chicken thighs because I had them in the freezer from a curbside pickup mistake—thought I was ordering four thighs and got four packs of four thighs each. I'll feed the family. This weekend, when we finally get new groceries, we’re going to make a holiday dinner—turkey and dressing and green beans. Darn! Wish I had French’s onion rings, but crushed potato chips will do.
I think that’s part of cooking in quarantine—making do.