A food I discovered during the pandemic is quiche, made with MN wild rice. I was tired of cooking the same things over and over, and so I looked in my new Gustavus Adolphus cookbook. That’s where I discovered it. For decades eggs had been completely absent from our diet (the best scientific thinking at the time.) But now dieticians are telling a different story. Besides that, I am taking a statin to keep my cholesterol down. So I found this recipe and decided I had all the ingredients for it, including the wild rice, that I buy any time I can get it.
It is fun to make, putting in a layer of wild rice over the lower pie crust. It takes awhile to put together because I make my own oil-based crust, and it takes about an hour to cook the wild rice to its tenderest. I also cook up vegetables I have on hand, and cook up either chicken or turkey for the next layer. On top of that is butter, mozzarella cheese (different from the recipe, but it’s the only cheese I like!) and four eggs and milk poured over the top. It all fits perfectly in my special glass pie pan.
The amazing thing about it is that it tastes different each time, depending on what vegetables and meat I use. The most amazing thing about it is that it gives us three meals. We eat 1/3 the first day, 1/3 2 days later, and I put 1/3 in the freezer for days when I don’t want to cook. We’re having it for dinner tonight with a little salad. Can’t wait!
We've been fond of brown rice for years. I usually baked a pan and had it on hand for quick meals. But in the last couple of years, I've discovered the best grains of all. Packaged by Seeds of Change brand, it's a timesaver deluxe. Brown rice and quinoa precooked, 90 seconds in the microwave, in the package and it is ready to use.
Saute mushrooms and chopped onion in butter and olive oil until soft, stir in the packaged rice mix and a perfect side dish. Pick a can of soup, heat it up and add the packaged rice mix. Makes a really filling lunch with lots of flavor.
Want salad? Use a chopped salad mix from the grocery, add cooled rice mix, left-over fried chicken and light ranch dressing. A filling salad for lunch with crackers or flatbread.
When I have run out of noodles, I've even put pasta sauce over it!
Thankfully Chris will eat anything he is served, without complaint, thanks to his time in the Marines and working crazy schedules all over the country.
We like to go out for lunch but that has been put on hold for the time being. But as Spring comes along and the outdoor dining picks up we will be able to get out again.
I've always liked cooking. I used to say, "I like eating, so I like to cook." The truth was that if I didn't cook, I didn't eat. No one else in our home liked to cook until our kids got old enough to help, and by then, I was too used to cooking my way. It was hard to watch them cooking "the wrong way."
Over time, especially after retirement, cooking all our meals became less enjoyable. Even though we only eat one or two full meals a day (thank goodness for that!), I didn't cook lunch while we worked; we each did our own thing. So I was growing weary of the obligation to plan, shop, prep, and cook. At least Tim took over the kitchen cleanup when he retired, which I greatly appreciated. And we ate out a couple of meals a week.
Then came the Covid pandemic, and we didn't eat out at all for a long time. Some days, cooking seemed a real chore. But suddenly a couple of weeks ago, Tim suggested he cook a meal. I loved the idea! Though he chose a fairly simple menu, it was so good! A meal tastes much better when someone cooks it for you anyway. Since then, he's been cooking a couple of dinners a week, and he won't let me help him beyond finding things in the kitchen. It's been a lot of fun! Of course, when he cooks, I clean up. In fact, I'm glad to clean the kitchen after a delicious meal cooked by someone who loves me!
There are some small ways that my cooking has changed over the last year due to the pandemic, but I will tell you how it specifically changed this past weekend. My birthday was on Sunday, and since I could not celebrate in the usual way by going to lunch with several close friends, my brother and sister-in-law came for a visit. Even though eating out had been my way of celebrating for many years, I decided that I wanted to cook some of my favorite foods that I haven’t had for some time due to the quantity the recipe makes. These are dishes that under normal circumstances, I would have invited others over to share with me, but, obviously, that hasn’t happened. So, I made a small batch of biscuits, chicken pot pie, Bolognese and waffles! They were all delicious. I told my family that it actually was one of the best birthdays that I had had in several years because I was able to celebrate all weekend!
On a side note, Glenda baked me a birthday cake, and they brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers that I am still enjoying, along with a 1000 piece puzzle with pictures from all of the national parks that I had admired when I was at their house for Christmas.
My pattern during this time of staying in has not really been to prepare new things, but to rediscover old recipes that I hadn't made in a while. My daughter has come here instead of us going out, so we have had some of our family favorite things, like Swedish pancakes, hamburger skillet and creamed eggs on toast. Part of those are family meals from my family of origin and continued on with my family. Almost no company came to my mom's house and stayed without getting Swedish pancakes and it was made by all the aunts on either side when we went to visit. How we eat the pancakes has evolved, but the recipes are really close to each other. That's what we did for our holiday meals as well, things we like or what my daughter requested. Food is a great way to remember family and family times. One of my cousins just posted about strawberry rhubarb jam and that brought back memories of visits to family in Nebraska and in Missouri. One aunt made sure I got a recipe because she said it was one that Erik would eat. So many memories tied to food!
For meals here, I have also gone back through things I made earlier, especially when I was entertaining a bit more and things that are too much for one person. That has included Salisbury steak, turkey meatloaf, strawberry dessert and chocolate eclair cake Turkey meatloaf was not a hit so didn't get made again. I have tried some new soups with chicken and enchiladas with chicken. I have done more cooking as I am home more as is everyone. It's fun to get back to things I have done and I'm thankful for the time to.
During the pandemic food has sometimes been a preoccupation. I can’t go to the store like I used to, so I have to plan more carefully. I also have to improvise if I don’t have something I thought I had, but that can actually be kind of fun. Challenging at least! Because we have more time and can’t go out, we have cooked more and enjoyed it. Food is also something to think about and spend time on during long boring days.
Like many people I have spent some time making bread. It was fun at first but I slacked off because we were eating too much bread! However, for some reason I recently decided to try making my own sourdough starter. It’s actually quite easy. I learned that there is “wild yeast “in many substances and just love that thought. Maybe we all have some wild yeast in us, growing in unexpected ways. Anyway, it’s so fun to watch it bubble and grow! And the bread is really good, probably the best I’ve made. I’ve been eyeing recipes for cinnamon rolls from sourdough starter, but so far I’ve resisted because that would be the beginning of the end for us!
The biggest food-related change we’ve made is in how we eat. We started eating our big meal in the middle of the day, when we have more time and energy for cooking. I also like not going to bed feeling full. Another benefit is that we actually sit down at the dining room table with cloth napkins and everything! We have actually enjoyed sitting and talking. When we used to eat at night we were often tired and either ate quickly at the bar or while watching the news. I like our new routine!
The inauguration ceremonies were fantastic this year! High points for me included Amanda Gorman’s incredible poem and the way she read it, and Lady Gaga’s singing of the national anthem, especially when she sang “THE FLAG WAS STILL THERE!” I also really enjoyed the celebration/concert that evening. It was well done during a pandemic, with music and people from across the nation. It was more fun to watch than inauguration dances and parties. The fireworks were the best I’ve ever seen, absolutely breathtaking.
I found myself in tears off and on through the day. I thought surely no American could fail to be stirred by the beautiful reminders of who we are. President Biden articulated very well the notion that even though we prize individual freedom, we succeed only when we are united in purpose and good will. I’m hoping that some hearts were open enough to receive the message. It feels to me like our future is hanging by a thread, and that frightens me.
Difficult questions remain. How can we find common ground with people whose lives are grounded in hatred and violence? How can we tolerate the stress of another impeachment trial, but on the other hand how can we let treason go with no consequences? Can Congress finally be inspired to rise above cynical political calculations and do what is right? I pray that the inspiration of the inauguration can make at least a little difference.
I've never watched a full inauguration before, just catching news clips after the fact. It doesn't seem any more interesting than my children's graduation ceremonies--and my children, whom I love, weren't even involved! I couldn't bring myself to watch the 2017 inauguration, because I couldn't stand the voice or the politics of the persons being inaugurated. And in the past four years, I haven't grown any fonder of either.
My hope rested on the election, and I thought my anxieties would cease. But no, one party cried foul without basis. Instead we looked forward to states certifying their votes. But those didn't ease my mind at all. The lies continued and grew louder; frivolous lawsuits followed. Then we looked forward to the Electoral College votes. Maybe then things would look better. Nope, even rational people were protecting the lies in their own desperate attempts to retain power. On January 6, when votes are certified by Congress, surely then? Instead, that was the most horrid display of hatred and violence I've seen in recent years--pretty much a culmination of what the past four years (and more) was fomenting. I was left dejected.
Finally, Inauguration Day arrived, with all the bright promise of turning the page in our collective history book. And it didn't disappoint. I watched the pomp and circumstance with great anticipation, alternating between goosebumps and tears. For one day, one day only, before the criticisms, the arguing, and the demands begin again, I wanted to see America as having one goal: to provide equal opportunities and respect for every citizen. I wanted to revel in the achievement of electing a woman of color to the second highest office in the land.
Today, I'm determined to unplug from political news as much as possible. I'm not the type to keep my head in the sand. But for now, I want my memory of the faces, the words, the poetry, and the songs of January 20 to last. I want to feel hope again.
Amanda Gorman’s poem says everything I would like to say, only better. Hope you enjoy this.
‘The Hill We Climb’
When day comes we ask ourselves,
‘where can we find light in this never-ending shade,’
the loss we carry,
a sea we must wade?
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it,
somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished,
far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew;
that even as we hurt, we hoped;
that even as we tired, we tried;
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious,
not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time
then victory won’t lie in the blade
but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb
if only we dare it,
because being American is more than a pride we inherit --
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust,
for while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter,
to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
‘how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe,’
now we assert,
‘how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be:
a country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce, and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution,
we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover
in every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it,
if only we’re brave enough to be it.
It snuck up on us. We didn't watch the news much in early 2020, because it seemed like the world just kept rolling along in the same old tracks. January was same as always, February seemed like every other Valentine's Day. By March my daughter, Karla was calling us and saying "Are you watching the news? You can't go out!"
And then, the bottom dropped out for all of us.
How many times did I think "I've never seen anything like this". Well, no one had. Ever! Thankfully many people here in Arizona took the warnings seriously, and did shelter at home. Many were able to work from home due to the increased technology but many lost their jobs, and are now in dire situations. And like the rest of the country, the school children will suffer in lots of ways.
The damage is world-wide. I really can't get my head around that fact. the whole world is reeling from the number of deaths and illnesses. And then, now we are looking at new strains of this disease!
We have gotten our first round of the vaccine, with minimal reactions, and hope the shots will be available to all our citizens.
For me, it has not been that hard or bad. I've adapted to less activities which has not been too hard because Chris is unable to get out much. The hardest part was moving across town to our new home. Once done, I know it won't happen again! We are among the fortunate. And we are thankful for that.