Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Logan Whips Up Some Chicken Thighs and Black Beans and Rice

Monday came around again and it was Master Logan James’ time to make dinner. What started perhaps as a non-preferred task has morphed into a a young man speaking to me the night before to discuss the meal and the time he’s going to get started. Today I asked him to do something with chicken thighs.

First, Logan washed and boiled the rice. He ran down to our overflow pantry and grabbed a can of black beans or sometimes they are called Turtle beans. He drained and rinsed them and added them to the rice pot. He put in a dash of oregano, pepper sauce a la Trinidad (every Trini has a bottle of home made pepper sauce in their fridge but you could use Franks or Tabasco or whatever you have on hand). He added some paprika and a little olive oil to the pot so that the rice would be nice and moist without being clumpy.

While the rice and beans were boiling down, he seasoned the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper and some Frank’s Red Hot with a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

He decided he wanted the chicken crispy but not deep fried. He is very aware of saturated fat and prefers to eat food that is baked or air fried. So, to help him achieve what he wanted I showed him how to combine mustard (usually I use Dijon mustard for this but I didn’t have any) and a little maple syrup. Once the meat was seasoned I told him to pour the mixture over the pieces and let it marinate for about 10 minutes.

  Maple Mustard glaze on seasoned chicken  lightly frying in olive oil

   Logan turning chicken pieces occasionally to get the skin to the crisp and colour he wants.

Fry chicken on medium heat turning occasionally until it stops bleeding and when it attains a golden brown colour. Next, take the time to check your phone for updates and send a quick one word or emoji response. Maybe send a snap. If you are not 12 through 30, put the phone down because this is a skill you cannot do well. Once your message has been sent, lightly moisten a sheet of foil and place on a baking dish

   

   Check your phone again while the next set of chicken thighs brown. Do not miss anything. Also, inform your mother of the latest news headline on Covid-19, to prove to her that your phone is vital to you for more than just staying in touch with friends. Physical newspapers are a thing of the past and too hard to hold. Also, today’s man can multi-task. Mic drop.

The chicken should cook in the olive oil for no more than 10-12 minutes on medium high heat. Place in foil lined baking dish and tent with another piece of foil to finish the cooking process and keep the crisp without burning the chicken skin.

Plate your meal, serve and enjoy. Cooking time an hour if prepping everything from scratch (that is seasoning meat, washing and boiling rice) This rice recipe can be done with left over rice as well. I would suggest using the seasonings Logan used for the rice dish with the beans (which you can cook separately) and fold in once beans are cooked. Stay home, Stay safe. Wash your hands and take precautions when going out shopping. Teach your teen/kid to cook. I am LOVING this time with Logan and while we are happy to share this with you and your family, I take comfort knowing that he can refer to this blog any time in the future should he need help making any of these meals. It also gives him a chance to read the mini stories that go along with them and it will hopefully keep these special moments alive for him for years to come. ~ Daniella and family.

 

 

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Logan takes on Rice Noodles with Pork and Vegetables

Young Logan, as I mentioned before LOVES Asian cuisine and after cooking up some pork for him and Adam the other day, I held back a few cutlets so he could do something Asian style last evening. So as usual, here is photos, is Logan using the slow cooker to prepare this meal. I like using the slow cooker with him because when he is on his own, it is a good way for him to make his meals while he is in class or at practice or a game. This prevents him from having to cook when he gets home. After practice or class one can feel tired and when you are tired, the temptation to go out and grab fast food is too great and as an athlete he has to eat well and as a single guy on a fixed budget, he has to not waste his money. When a young person is on their own, a slow cooker, an Instant Pot and a smart oven is the way to go.

The pork was seasoned with a pinch of all purpose seasoning and put into a tightly sealed baggie earlier that morning and left for an hour in the fridge. Next, he cut the pork into strips and placed them into the slow cooker. Then he added a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder, followed by 3 teaspoons of reduced sodium soy sauce.

We keep a fair supply of frozen vegetables on hand. Logan chose the Thai Style Stir-Fry ready veggie mix. He pot them in their frozen state with the port in the slow cooker and he added 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. He covered the pot and set it to low for 2 hours.

Rice Noodles are really easy to make. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Shut off the heat. Pull out the noodles from the package and place them in the pot and stir for 5 minutes. They will become al dente. Drain. Rinse in warm water. Drain and place in a pasta bowl or plate and top with the pork and veg. Enjoy. Smells fantastic. Tastes delicious and is completely satiating.

Stay home. Stay safe. Teach your teen to cook. Have important conversations, silly conversations. Get to know them even better. They are pretty amazing people. This pandemic is a bitch but, it too shall pass. Make the most of the time together. ~ Daniella and family.

 

 

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: They Wanted Fast Food – As In Me Cooking Something Fast

It was work out day for my guys. Adam was at his apartment using his heavy bag and Logan was working out in the basement and with work and an afternoon nap, I was running late on my day to cook.The wanted to eat right after they were done. Adam called and said he would have liked it if we could do a delivery at about 6:15 pm, and Logan was looking for his around the same time. So, I needed to cook food fast. Pulled out some pork cutlets, and of course, Adam put in a request for rice and beans.

So, I opened up a can or mixed beans, put a little water in the pot, seasoned salt and a little dash of Trini pepper sauce (you can us any hot sauce you have available to add a little zing). I let that heat on low while I boiled the rice and got the pork underway.

I seasoned the pork with the juice of half a large lemon, stole a pinch of Tom’s Kosher salt. added a few twists of the pepper mill grinder and 2 chopped cloves of garlic and a dash or onion powder. Next, I put some vegan butter in a pan and added the pork. I added chopped parsley and 2 caps of white wine and covered the pan and lowered the heat and simmered the pork. When the pork is slightly brown and tender when poked with a fork, it is done. Pork cooks quickly so pay attention to it. We don’t eat pork cutlets often but I thought it would be a nice change for the boys.

   One meal for here…..

 

   The other to go….

So, if you are looking for something to cook quickly, that will fill up hungry people, try the other white meat for dinner. It can be all done in 25 to 30 minutes.  Logan’s was plated and waiting for him at 6 pm and I did the sliding door social distancing drop off at 6:15 pm at Adam’s apartment. This meal is also a good source of protein for my guys after a workout or anytime.

Stay safe. Stay inside. Be patient. Cook ~ Daniella and family

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Left Overs, Having Time to Bake and Have Breakfast Every Day.

With all the cooking we have been doing at home, we are trying to use up ingredients before grocery shopping. When Logan made his Chinese food, we had quite a few beansprouts left over, we had some pot stickers in the freezer, and left over peas and carrots. Well, this is I suppose pot sticker soup instead of won ton soup but in a pandemic lock-down, a dumpling is a dumpling and we had a nice simple meal for lunch on a chilly day that satisfied.

Soup is pretty easy. Basically you are boiling ingredients together and getting the juices in the liquid and the yum taste in the solids. Obviously you have to have a little zing – a little added flavor so obviously you have to add your pepper, your salt (in this case soy, as we are making an Asian styled soup) your chives, garlic and onion. I added a bit of sesame oil for added flavor. Bring to a boil and stir before lowering heat to simmer the soup for about another 5 to 8 minutes. If you have soup noodles you can add that in as well but it’s not necessary. Stir-frys and soups are great ways to use up left overs and create new yummy dishes. Don’t throw out. Figure it out and enjoy your new creation.

While locked-down, there has been a lot more treat making – I don’t really bake but there has been time to use out those frozen pie shells I’ve been accused of hoarding. So there has been apple pie, pumpkin  pie and chocolate chip cookies – No wonder the 20-year-old treats us like Skip the Dishes.

One thing I do like about being off the usual clock, is the time to make what you want to eat for breakfast. I like breakfast but I rarely eat it. Now, while we still get up around 7, we have a much more relaxed routine in the morning. Coffee and Latte comes first as always but we sit and watch the news longer. Then we decide what we feel like eating. For me it is usually just the latte or a smoothie to go. The only time I eat breakfast is when we are away on holiday or on business. It’s has been nice having pancakes around here a few times a week, or bacon and eggs and orange juice, or a non-rushed grilled cheese, or actual yogurt and fruit instead of protein powder, water and maybe a l bit of fruit. I love having time.

I love not rushing. This is a very busy family and we remember everything and get it all done and I work very hard at keeping a relaxed vibe in spite of the pace but with no busy schedule, it has been really nice just moving at a slower pace and not always working backwards from the time we are supposed to be somewhere. It sucks to be stuck at home this long but for what it is worth, this virus has given us time back – for ourselves, our loved ones and for the things we never seem to have time for.

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Enjoy the time. We will get there. #Teachyour teenagertocook ~ Daniella and family.

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: And the Guy Serves Up Penne with Chicken & Broccoli

MY SON DELIVERED! And man, it was tasty! Logan as you know, has been learning to cook now that we are all at home everyday, pretty much all day. This cooking was supposed to happen in Summer after graduation when he had more time, but the spread of the coronavirus, as it has for everyone, postponed everything in his life, including graduation. Knowing that he would be back at his busy life when we are able to leave the house again, I told him to consider learning to cook now since we are all on pause. Today, I told him to get started in the kitchen by seasoning up some chicken with seasonings he thought would work for a pasta dish. He dashed some Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder and oregano and let it marinate for a while.

He started the water for the penne added salt and a little splash of olive oil. Without a prompt he crushed and chopped 2 garlic cloves, measured out how much broccoli he wanted for his dish and once the water boiled, threw in his penne.

With the pasta boiling, he heated a little olive oil in a pot, added his chicken and stirred on high heat. He added his chopped garlic and the broccoli, lowered the heat and covered the pot. Once the pasta was cooked and drained, he put some butter (maybe about a teaspoon) to melt in the pot.

 

We didn’t have any Alfredo sauce so he got creative and used some Caesar’s dressing (like a couple squirts ) and some ranch dressings (again about a couple squirts) and a little milk. This mixture should measure to about 4 oz of liquid,  Logan added the pasta to the melted butter, added the chicken and broccoli and mixed in the dressing. He added in some fresh Parmesan and mixed all the ingredients together.

   

                   

 

 

The taste test apparently told Chef something was missing and he said, “I’m gonna add some salt to bring out all the flavors. I ain’t serving no bland food”. Imagine my pride in this moment as I stood silently and observed as he created this dinner for his family. Once the food was plated he suggested we top with more fresh Parm.

I have to say. I like where this cooking journey is taking us. Stay home. Stay safe. Teach your teenager to cook while we all have the time. ~ Daniella and family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Chinese Food His Way.

My son and I love Chinese food, Vietnamese, Food, Japanese and Korean…it’s our jam, one of our genetic bonds. Ever since he was little, we’d have a special lunch and he always picked Asian cuisine. I remember he had done something really cool at a group he was in at the local YMCA and he was so proud, he suggested we celebrate over Chinese food. He was just 4. For for six consecutive March Breaks, we have been on the All Chinese food get away. It started as a 3 day trip then it dwindled to 1 day as he got busy with hockey and his life, but we made time for it. We start with Dim Sum and any meal we eat on those three days or that one day is Asian cuisine. We also made a deal with each other that if we ever had anything special to tell each other, we would do it at Rol San on Spadina in Toronto, if possible.

With this love of the same cuisine, it was only fitting he felt, that I teach him how to make something close to Asian food. That, and the fact we were not able to head to Rol San for March Break this year because of the Covid 19 virus. Logan decided to try making vegetable fried rice, fried chicken and a vegetable dish. There was not a lot of variety in the grocery when it came to the seasonings we would want to use because of the effect the Covid-19 pandemic is having on deliveries. So, we used what I was able to buy along with the seasonings we have on hand and get creative.

I am teaching Logan to cook using all his senses. He smells the food, the seasonings and is able to identify them by smell and sight. He listens for the sound of the oil to know when he can add food to the pot. He touches everything to experience the different textures and he tastes the food as we go along. He is learning the way I learned from my mother and there is so much more than cooking going on. There is conversation and not just about things going on in his life or what is happening in the world with this virus. I’m telling things about other countries, talking about the different currencies around the world. I give him tidbits about history, climate, all the bits and pieces of trivia my mom and dad told me randomly, so that I would know more than just what was in my school books. I’m talking about art and music and he’s listening. You see, I think as parents we get lost sometimes in the boxes we put ourselves and our children into without realizing that the most successful of us were allowed to be creative. We had open, honest conversations and we were encouraged to think and to try and to fail and to try again. sure, Logan is doing his school work but he is learning from us as we have this time together while we are locked down. He is not scheduled to go to college until January and he still needs to figure out where and when he will start playing hockey again and his plans to go out east to university in 4 years  is still in place. We will take his path as we have always taken it – one day at a time and while we wait for this virus to be defeated, we will teach, he will learn and he will be more prepared to venture out on his own.

And Now – Chinese food Logan’s way.

Fried Rice – Boil some white rice. We used Jasmine rice because that is what we had in the pantry. Once done, set aside. Next he put some sesame oil in his pan and scrambled 2 eggs.

   

   

Next, he added in his ginger, mushrooms, peas and carrots, corn and chives and chopped onion and gradually folded in his rice. He mixed in some Soy sauce and a little Hoisen sauce, tasting all the while until he got the flavor and color he liked. The fried rice complete, he set it aside and started on the chicken.

Logan seasoned the chicken with black pepper, garlic, onion powder, ground ginger and cooked it up with some sesame oil in a large iron pot. Once again he added in soy sauce and some black bean sauce we found. He let it cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally adding a little water to the pot if he needed it so that the chicken would not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. While that cooked, he made a vegetable dish.

  

Looking at what we had to work with he chose the water chesnuts, baby corn, bean sprouts, broccoli and green onion. He tossed them in a pan of peanut oil (any oil will do if you have an allergy to peanuts) and stirred in some orange ginger sauce. Once the veggies were coated he sprinkled with sesame seeds. Earlier, I cooked up some greens that were beginning to look a little sad. I didn’t want them to go to waste so I tossed them up in a little rice vinegar to go with Logan’s meal.

And there you have it – Logan’s homemade Asian meal. It had a great smell and it was full of flavor and most of all it was delicious and he was so proud of himself.  He has impressed us in the kitchen once again and now there is one more dish he can make. By the time he is on his own, he won’t always have to rely on take out when he wants Asian food. I do hope though, that we will continue to go to our favorite Asian restaurants once the pandemic is over, pick up our chop sticks and spend some mom and son time savoring all the flavors we love.

   

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Humility Served by Logan in the Form of a Fish Sandwich on Good Friday.

There is a certain humility that comes with Good Friday. I was born and raised Roman Catholic in Trinidad and to me and my family, when it came to food, it meant a meatless, egg-less simple breakfast. The fanciest thing we might have had was smoke herring with bake or bake and buljol (saltfish aka cod) or maybe for Daddy mackerel or sardines with bake.  Lunch would have been served late, like between 2 and 3 pm as we would have gotten up late that morning anyhow and Lunch would fill you up until bedtime. My mother would do her salt salmon with her lemon and capers olive oil and onions. She served it thank God, with dumplings and what we call “blue food” so, cassava, dasheen, yam and eddoes which off set that salt.

Sometimes she would do a potato salad as a side with it, or if she felt like cooking, some callaloo that for me helped to off set even more of the fish’s saltiness. Sometimes in stead of a potato salad she might do a green fig salad. That was the way she learned to do Good Friday Lunch and thankfully, some of my cousins still do and I think it is the kind of dish my sister will attempt as she has easier access to the West Indian markets than I do. It was not a favourite of mine but I did eat it and still will, but to say I will carry it on is doubtful because salt salmon is not something readily available where I live and I don’t think my guys will gobble it up. I was even looking on line for a photo but couldn’t find a true Trini Good Friday Salmon plate of food to show you what it looks like, but I had no luck.

This year Good Friday is taking place at home. There are no stations of the cross to go to, no Masses this weekend, no Christian services and for our Jewish brothers and sisters, a very different Passover. With everyone in isolation to stop the spread of this virus, it has been nice to see that we have gotten creative and are connecting with each other  with IMO, House Party, using the Amazon Echo Show , Facetime, Google Home etc. services are being live streamed and we are sharing in a way that’s uniting us with family, friends and long lost friends more that ever. A lot of good has come from so much bad in a month and a bit and it’s nice to recognize the positive perks when the day gets boring or rough.

This Good Friday, we used the Bassa we had in the freezer to make our lunch. No one wanted to cook a lot but we wanted something tasty and a little different from how we usually serve it. Logan cooks on Mondays and Fridays so that he can learn a new dish with a little supervision from me. Knowing it was fish for Good Friday, he thought that maybe we could do some sort of sandwich. Instead of using Kaiser buns, I asked him if he would be interested in using bake and he was eager to learn how to make it. You must understand that when a Trini says bake, it means that chances are, the dough is fried. Sometimes we call it float as it floats in the hot oil as it fries. Now there are bakes that you do bake in the oven but sometimes to differentiate between the two we call it roast bake which, if if is made with coconut, can be called coconut bake and in some recipe books you will even see floats or fry bake, called Johnny bake. Whatever you call it, they all taste good. So,now that I have confused anyone not from the Caribbean, just try and keep up.

For the Bake you will need – 4 cups of flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, 4 teaspoons of baking powder and some water and enough oil for frying. (if you are looking for 8 bakes then ½ this recipe. This will be enough to make sandwiches for 4 people)

 

Sift your dry ingredients together, add enough water to make a soft dough and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover and let the dough rest for ½ hour or more.  Cut in pieces and roll each to 5 to 6 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Fry in hot oil turning once and draining on kitchen paper. Place bakes in a dish, cover with foil and put in oven on the Warm setting while you cook the fish.

 

Always, vegetables are served with meals in this house so to make it interesting, I had Logan cut up some carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and cabbage to top the fish and to use up lingering ingredients in the fridge. If you have been following me, you know how I feel about lingerers.

 

How about a Sauce? So, there were two that I did very quickly. The first was poured out of the bottle – lol – I have tamarind sauce and it has quite a hot kick to it so for sure that was a must and the other was a quick mix of mayonnaise, relish and a pinch of salt for a tangy kick for anyone not interested in the heat of the tamarind sauce.

Preparing and cooking the fish. I cut the Bassa into 4 pieces, rinsed them and patted dry. Logan seasoned some flour with thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon zest of ½ a large lemon and added some chopped green onion. He coated the fish with the seasoned flour and covered the bottom of the frying pan with olive oil. Once the oil was hot, he fried his fish turning 3 or four times, removing and draining on a paper towel once golden brown with a light crust. Drizzle the fish with the juice of ½ a lemon.

 

And there you have it. Good Friday lunch served made with just what we had in the house. Logan’s version of a fish sandwich. In my head I was imagining shark and bake however what he did with the Bassa was very tasty. It was simple and humble in keeping with what Good Friday is supposed to mean to Christians. It was a meal that went along with the quiet reflection we are supposed to do on the day Christ died. We reflect on what that means in our religion – the sacrifice and love and compassion and forgiveness it represents and in this time of pandemic, we could use this time in isolation to reflect on how we live our lives, what we are learning to do to achieve our simple goals, such as keeping our students engaged in learning, using the money we have for what we need as opposed to using it for what we want. We are practicing selflessness by staying indoors to prevent not just ourselves but others from becoming ill and we are patiently lining up at the grocery store and showing tolerance and respect for the protocols in place to keep us safe when we have to be outdoors. We are making masks to help those working with the public and we are shopping on behalf of others too compromised to go out. We are showing the goodness we hold in our hearts and it is wonderful to see. This Good Friday was not just part of the usual Easter long weekend, it was exactly what it is supposed to be – a time of selflessness, humility and reflection.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay healthy ~ Daniella and family.

     

   

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Let’s Throw Together Something Thursday

Tomorrow is Thursday. Again. I think we have all been home about a month now, in Canada. Life is very different and keeping your spirits high is important. I am finding that the hardest part about this pandemic is leaving the house.  I prefer to e at home. I really do. Going out to shop is draining and a little frightening as you have your guard up the entire time you are out. I don’t mind lining up and the sanitizing of the carts and our hands when we go to the grocery. I don’t mind waiting 2 metres away from the person ahead of me in a lane if they are reading package instructions or price comparing. What I do mind are the inconsiderate people who refuse to glance down at the entrance to an aisle and see what direction we are supposed to move. The arrow means follow the arrow down the aisle. This avoids multiple people moving in opposite directions and accidentally coughing, sneezing or touching each other. This has been put in place to prevent us from spreading this virus. If you see an X at the end of the aisle, it means you are going the wrong way. It’s not that hard to figure out. I also lose my mind when you and your husband bring your baby and your toddler to the grocery and to top it off, yell DON’T TOUCH when your baby reaches out for something that has caught her eye. Oh, and another thing that got on my nerves today – the need for people to socialize while social distancing in the line to get into the store. Spit flies! It flies all the time when you talk. The more you talk, the less you realize you have moved a bit closer to the stranger you are trying to distance from. Can’t we just line up and shut up? And when the person ahead of them gets to enter the store, the person lleft in line, looks like they’ve lost a friend and feel the need to turn around to maybe try and talk to the brown girl….wait, no never mind, the brown girl looks kinda angry. That’s right lady. I don’t need a longer Christmas list. I don’t need any more friends and I certainly don’t want to risk your spit landing on me. Turrrrnnn Arounnnnd. That’s right.

Today, let’s see what is still lingering in the fridge from some of the great meals we have had. I found extra plain boiled macaroni from Tom’s mac & cheese. I found some meat sauce left over from the day Logan made his first Lasagna and the very last of some cheddar and Parmesan and some mushrooms that need to be put out of their misery. I found a bottle of red wine dying to be drained and and the remainder of a yellow, red and an orange bell pepper.

This is a no-brainer really. Grab the left overs that would work well together and combine them. Place them in a casserole dish and bake. That tomatoey, tangy-ness and that hint of red wine and the sharp taste of the melted cheese all come together to make me feel good inside. My mom used to make this with her left overs for us. Usually on a Friday. It was mom’s version of fast food. I think when we asked her what it was she called it Italian Delight  because it was delightful. Delightfully made with whatever left over ingredients she had along with some kind of pasta and meat sauce or cooked chicken. After a day (3.5 hours) of being out of the house to get groceries, spending more time lining up and avoiding people while shopping and looking for alternatives to the things I wanted that were no longer in stock and of course add in the time it takes to sanitize everything. I have a spray bottle of Dettol with me, paper towels and gloves and I have a decontamination routine which involves wiping down the gear stick and the steering wheel and the entire dashboard of my car, the seat belt , the seat belt clasp…I wipe down everything I touch in the car and yea, I spray the groceries and the grocery bags. I shopped for my son who lives on his own, I shopped for my un-well in-laws and for our home. So I am taking a break tomorrow and not putting too much effort into Thursday’s meal but I am  looking forward to it and I can imagine the taste of it  – that same delightful taste that Mom captured on random Fridays when we came home starving from school.Delightful times from the past, captured in a dish made of left overs, hoping today for delightful times to come.

Cooking in the time of Covid -19: Throw together something on a Tuesday

I got to a point in this lockdown where I was almost at the end of grocery supplies and I was grabbing things that needed to be finished off from the fridge and their containers recycled or thrown out. I call these ingredients  the lingerers.   

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The first lingering thing I saw in the fridge was a radler. I like radlers but the fact that there are 3 in the fridge is an obvious indication that I am not a drinker. I have occasional gin and tonics, pretty tropical drinks, bloody ceasars and radlers but I can count the number of drinks I have in a year pretty much on one hand. That’s just me and I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. But on Throw Together Tuesday I figure I’ll drink this while I cook and get serenaded by Alexa.

Ok, what’s next. Ah…I found a lone can of red kidney beans at the back of the pantry, on it’s side, just pushed over, most likely when we were looking for another ingredient or when younger inhabitants re-stock our shelves. The can was almost a casualty of overcrowding. Now to the fridge. What have we here? Balsamic vinegar dressing  – about an eighth of a bottle. Ok, what can I do with these? How about drain and rinse the beans, thinly slice a clove of garlic, chop the sliver of onion from the fridge and lets throw them in a saucepan with the balsamic vinegar dressing and let’s add some Himalayan salt and some fresh ground pepper.

    

I let the mixture simmer for a bit on medium heat, added in the beans, stirred to make sure they were all coated with my concocted brew, before covering and reducing the heat to low.

  Earlier this morning, I realized I had one more bag of seasoned chicken in the freezer.with this being cooked and consumed today, chicken is on the grocery list for tomorrow. I want to make it quickly and easily without using oil that causes the lingering smell of fried chicken in the house (and you know this recipe is all about ridding the kitchen of lingering anything). So, I am going to use my Tefal “air-fryer” and fry 6 pieces at a time for 30 minutes. While that cooks I am going to rummage through the vegetable crisper in the fridge. I am in constant battle with myself to use up all the vegetables I buy. I lose my mind when a half used cucumber or half a bell pepper goes soggy and floopsie. Its a waste of money, and more importantly, a waste of food. I was raised not to waste either. I found 1/4 bag of carrots and some red, yellow and orange sweet peppers (bell peppers) and smidgen of bottle of maple syrup (about 2 tablespoons worth). Let’s see what I can do with that.

I found a couple pinches of dried oats and a handful of salted sunflower seeds in a little baggie in one of the kitchen cupboards. So to counteract the sweetness of the maple syrup, I stirred in the oats and the nuts and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 F. The result was a nice blend of sweet and salt that glazed the veggies to perk up the meal.

I served the finished meal with a side salad of mixed greens. And there you have it, a meal thrown together with lingering ingredients that needed to be used up. The alternative was them going to waste. Now I have the time to really look at what I have, use it all and make grocery lists as I deplete ingredients, I have saved money, reduced my time at the grocery and realized that the cooking skills I have acquired from my family have allowed me to be creative while feeding my family nutritious, satisfying and tasty meals. We all have to stay home, keep our distance and stop the spread of a terrible pandemic. We can all get organized, we can all use our creativity and flare and daring. I have learned to let cooking centre me, relax me and give me time to think, solve problems, strategize, pray, and put a smile on my face when I remember learning to make meals with my mother and later my sister, and now I am doing the same thing with my husband and my son. With every meal, we make a new a memory and to me that’s pretty comforting. Stay home. Stay safe. Stop the spread and make memories. Let’s take what we have discovered about ourselves now with us when we transition to safer, healthier times. ~Daniella and family.

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Tom’s Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Tom is leading the way with a Meatless Monday popular comfort food using the Instant Pot to make a creamy comfort food at a time in our lives that includes the words lockdown, peak, flatten the curve, epicentre, virus, masks, death, infected, quarantine, isolation, social distancing….at least for a little while, we can put those words out of our minds and create something warm and tasty.

Let’s cook!

First, measure the macaroni (this is about 450 g) and your water (about 4 cups) and put into the Instant Pot. Cover and set for 8 minutes on the Manual setting. Manual seems to be the go to setting for almost every dish we make in the Instant Pot. Make sure the toggle is set on Sealing. When the time is up, move the toggle to Venting. To prevent the mess from the starchy spray spittle, place a sheet of paper towel as shown above. Notice where his arms are – AWAY FROM THE STEAM. As the paper absorbs the steam it will curl forward. Crumple and throw out. You will have less starchy mess to clean. Great tip, Tom. I remember Tom was great at feeding babies back in the day. It was his least favorite pastime as a parent but he was always well prepared. He was always armed with a damp washcloth or damp paper towels, a bib for the baby and a make shift table cloth bib for himself as a shirt protecting shield, or he’d be shirtless along with the baby for post feeding showering for them both. Good times!

Moving on! These are the ingredients he stirs in to the macaroni in the pot while it is still piping hot.

Follow the pictures to see how he makes the macaroni cheesy and smooth.

Stir in about 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine.Then add about 2 to 3 table spoons of the Queso and fold. Next add in the evaporated milk (adding too much obviously makes the dish too watery; adding too little makes it too sticky so you add enough to make it creamy and smooth. You will feel the texture as you stir the macaroni and the ingredients with your spatula)

As you stir and the liquid is absorbed and binds with the macaroni, it looks like this:-

Plate, season with a little fresh ground pepper and serve with a slice of garlic bread (Tom’s special garlic bread recipe coming soon), smile and enjoy. Happy Meatless Monday boys and girls. Stay Home. Cook together. Share recipes. Take comfort in comfort food. Pass the time cooking and creating delicious meals for yourself and your family. ~Daniella and family

If you don’t have an instant pot, you can still make this dish. It will take a bit longer but it generally is done in 1 pot, Boil the macaroni, drain and using the same ingredients you can make a smooth pot of mac and cheese. You can also do it in a slow cooker but do check on line for a recipe for guidance for using a slow cooker.