Cooking My Way Out

Quarantine Survival Post #1

I have been going back and forth on whether the world needs another post on “What I Did On My Worldwide Pandemic”. As you can tell from the fact that you’re reading this, I decided “Why the heck not?” Maybe some small part of my journey will help someone with theirs. That’s more than enough reason to sit down and write.

So, let’s set the scene. I have been in a voluntary semi-quarantine for three weeks at this point. Due to my current employment situation, I work entirely in the gig economy. I’m a substitute teacher in the local school district and I am a rideshare driver (Uber/Lyft). Which means I’m out of work at the moment. Schools closed here a month ago, and with minimal travel orders issued, few people are going anywhere. Could I be doing delivery stuff? Yes, but I’m in a moderate risk group (age and underlying conditions) and so is my wife. I’m uncomfortable with the potential exposure and outcomes. So I stay at home.

And about a week ago, I started to go stir-crazy.

I’m an extroverted introvert which means I can do bursts of social interaction but I need my quiet time in between. The loss of social interaction weighs heavy on my shoulders at the moment. So I needed to find something to occupy my time.
Yes, I’m reading, and binge-watching (something I never do under normal circumstances), and cleaning, and even doing a bit of writing. But I need something to challenge me and take me out of my funk. I’ve come up with several ideas. I’ll share them with you over the course of the next couple weeks.

The first activity is cooking. I love to cook, but the 10 days of teaching and driving left little time for the joy of. Instead, it was about producing meals NOW. But it can’t be just another chore for the day. I needed to find something creative (cause that’s my thang) to push me to focus on it.

And I came up with two. First, I have a modest collection of cookbooks, and assorted recipes gathered over the years. Lots of things “I want to try someday”. Well, someday has arrived. I try for one or two new dishes each week. No point in going overboard, I’m cooking for more than myself. Some old familiar meals need to form the foundation of the week. Tilapia in a Thai Curry Coconut sauce. A Balsamic Chicken. Pork Carnitas. A chicken and sausage dish called Chicken Guillaume. Pasta with Tuna and Capers. All have or will shortly grace our table. The ones so far have been solid to very good so far. And I’m having fun.
Then it occurred to me. Cookbooks aren’t the only thing I’ve collected for kitchen use. I am descended from a gadget-loving dad. As an example, after he died we found 13 or so TV remotes. All in a house with two televisions in it. Simple ones with a handful of buttons to one that looked like you could launch the space shuttle with it. He loved “toys” and I do too.

Well, here’s my collection of kitchen toys:
Kitchen Aid Mixer                          Pizzelle Press
George Foreman Toaster Oven    Hot Air Popcorn popper
Instant Pot                                        Wok
Blender                                              Pizza Pan
SodaStream soda maker                Pizza Stone
Keurig                                                Pizza Peel
Crockpot                                            Pizza Pan for Grill
Electric Grill                                     Double Boiler
Panini Press                                      Ricer
Single Serve Ice Cream Maker      Electric Ice Cream Maker
Food Processor                                 Rice Steamer
Waffle Press                                     Stick Blender
IP Egg Bites Mold                            Microwave Chip Maker
Cast Iron Bread Pans                     Hand Blender (Electric)
A Mini-Maker Griddle                   Braising Pan

(Digging through my cupboards I found MORE: Garlic roaster, mandolin, Pyrex bread baking tube!  Christmas Pudding Bowl (I think that’s what it is))

That’s the list – at the moment. I keep finding more things tucked away in corners.

And the challenge is to use them all by the end of the year. Some of them are easy. The IP, the Foreman, the electric grill, and the blender see regular use. Since I drink neither coffee nor tea, the Keurig may be a challenge. On the other hand, the SodaStream (which is technically the Kid’s) has become a favorite. One that I have to control since I’m also trying to drop a few pounds.

It’s easy to come up with ways to use all these toys. It’s more that in “meal production” mode, I need things that require little planning and less thought. If put my mind to it, I should be able to complete this part of the challenge in a matter of months. The cookbooks will keep me challenged for a while to come.

I’ve taken to calling the current “situation”, the “Great Isolation of 2020”. So cooking is my first isolation survival concept. Do you have kitchen toys hiding in your cupboards? Pull them out and put them to work. Let me know if you find a recipe or a toy that you enjoy.


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