Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sequestration Meal #180


I discovered some forgotten Yves veggie ham in my fridge on a night I felt like putting in only slightly more effort than a sandwich, so I made a quesadilla with it and some Daiya mozzarella shreds and served it with a side of quick guacamole for dipping. (It's the kind that consists entirely of avocado, salt, pepper, and lime juice, and perhaps should not even be called guacamole so much as mashed avocado with lime.)

It was satisfying, albeit hard to photograph after the sun went down.

I hope everyone stayed safe this Thanksgiving, though I admit from what I've seen I think we're in trouble. I am well-stocked with things to ward off the supply chain issues that could come soon. Whatever you're doing in this moment to take care of yourself, know that I'm sure you're doing a good job.

Sometimes I think about the people who will re-enact this on some future documentary, like people re-enacting life in, say, World War II Britain in our own century, and I wonder how the filmmakers will structure it. Deny them toilet paper? Send them capricious grocery deliveries missing things? But how will they give them the stress-induced lethargy that makes everything so much harder? The anger that takes over sometimes, and won't make room for thoughts of cooking vegetables and beans? The sudden waves of ennui that make food itself seem pointless? The strange bursts of joy over grocery deliveries that finally include things like tater tots and ginger beer? The satisfaction from pushing through and accomplishing something anyway?

The past is a foreign country we can never hope to visit, and I've never really felt that as much as I do these days. I work in an archive (well, theoretically; I work from home now) and the past is part of my present all the time, but I think I know, more than I ever did, how little I can ever hope to recapture of what people felt if we weren't there to feel it with them. So I guess Food for Dissertating has sometimes become, in a way, one of the ways I'm trying to capture it for them, in the future. But there is hope in that, hope for a future that will have the mercy not to understand. 

I'm rambling today, I guess! See you tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

My Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner for One in Isolation

I did it! Mostly. Looking back at my plan, I made almost everything I thought I would for Thanksgiving, but did not make crescent rolls. I had a lot of trouble with motivation and appetite, but for some reason, it was important to me to actually do it. I had my Thanksgiving dinner yesterday (Friday), because I spent Thursday resting and doing prep work (so many veggies to wash and chop, cashews to soak, etc.) and baking a pie.

Yes, there was pie!

I haven't been all that interested in eating over the past several days, and honestly it was hard to convince myself to eat some of these things. They tasted great, so it wasn't that. I think depression is taking a toll, perhaps. But! Once I tasted things, I was glad I had them, especially that green bean casserole and stuffing.

The gravy I ended up making was the one from Nora Cooks, because it looked easier. It was good, but the Dijon mustard taste was a bit out of the norm for Thanksgiving. Also, when I plated things, I realized just how brown everything looked. I'd usually have had something brighter--some carrots, some cranberry sauce, maybe some brussels sprouts, yams--but nobody is going to do all that alone, are they? (Somebody probably did, who is not me.)

I'll be eating leftovers for a bit, but I think I'll try making tofu steaks to go with the sides. I need something light. I wanted to show this to you right away, so you're going to see what I ate before Thanksgiving next, and later on you'll see how I dealt with my Thanksgiving leftovers.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was happy! Hang in there. I'm not sure how we get out of this but I think eventually we will.

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Review of New Things I've Tried #12 (Bubbly Drinks Edition)

 I don't know why carbonated beverages improve my mood. I just know that they do! I generally drink plain seltzer or seltzer with a squeeze of lemon, but I do sometimes get flavored bubbly drinks. So as I've had the chance to get a few more unusual ones, I have looked forward to telling you about them. 

1. Polar Orange Dry

Okay, okay, this is something I know is not new-to-me, but I had to include it here because I've never mentioned it but it is wonderful. It's not that easy to find, but I love it. Orange Dry is an orange soda made with actual orange juice that is not nearly so sweet or strangely colored as most orange sodas are. If you can find it, I highly recommend it. It's about as sweet as orange juice is, but not quite so thick, and obviously because it's a sugary soda it's not health food. (Unless you need that. I'm not a medical doctor, and your doctor will be the best person to help you understand what you need.)

2. San Pellegrino Sparkling Arancia & Fico d'India (Orange & Prickly Pear) Juice

I bought this because it was half price. It has both real orange and real prickly pear juices, but I kind of wanted it to have one or the other rather than both. I'm not sure how well those things complement each other. But this was a good break from the ordinary, anyway. I did think it was a bit odd to get an Italian soda using a fruit native to North America's hotter places, but Wikipedia tells me that it has been introduced to many regions in the world, including southern Europe. Go figure.

3. Seagram's Ginger Ale

This one isn't uncommon, probably--Seagram's is owned by Coca-cola, I think--but I am far more of a ginger beer person than a ginger ale person, so it may be uncommon for me. Ginger beer is sold as non-alcoholic in the United States, although it is fermented and does have a little bit of alcohol in it. It doesn't cause me any of the issues that things actually requiring ID do, and I adore it. But after months of not being able to get any ginger beer, I decided to splurge on some ginger ale in the grocery delivery. I don't know if I'd had Seagram's before. I know I've had Canada Dry. I think ginger ale in general has a distinct flavor but Seagram's isn't very gingery; it just tastes like something sugary and leaves an indescribable aftertaste. I don't dislike it, but I think Canada Dry is better. Sometimes, however, a nice class of icy sugar water really hits the spot.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Interlude: Inspiration

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans who celebrate! We'll see if I manage to eat what I'd planned and I look forward to showing it off later. In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about something positive--someting I'm thankful for, if you will. 

I've been feeling more inspired in the kitchen lately. Letting go of what I can't get right now and embracing what I can has been part of the reason. But I also ran across a YouTube video at just the right time to knock me out of a rut. Delish (the channel) isn't vegan. The person who made the video isn't vegan. But she was doing a "budget challenge" video and to make it "harder" on herself she made it vegan and gluten free.

It's a long video, but I was mesmerized. She emphasized using what you have and exploring within that. Although I don't necessarily have to budget as strictly as I know many people do, I do have challenges as we all do now with respect to what I can get, and I am concerned about having to spend more to get it. I'm not a wealthy person and I came from a family that can properly be described as poor--food stamps, charity, and occasionally just not having enough to eat were all part of my childhood--so I do try to be frugal even while I make a point of giving myself the freedom to get treats.

It's not that I would make all the things she made--I can't see myself making peanut milk, for example--but seeing what she did sparked my interest in being creative. Some of what you've seen recently--the Haitian food, for example--came out of that.

This isn't my usual content and I don't intend on making it so; if you're looking forward to seeing what I ate, don't worry, you'll see plenty of that soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sequestration Meal #179


I did not set out to make this, but a different Haitian dish, but found I didn't have all the ingredients the way I thought I did. Back to the drawing board! This is diri ak pwa (rice and beans) from the recipe at I topped it with some sliced avocado and salt and pepper because I was really too exhausted to cook anything else to go with it.

I don't think I've ever had Haitian food, aside from a wedding I attended long ago where the only thing I remember eating or drinking is the cremas, some sort of rum-infused milky coconut drink that reminded me why I don't drink. (This is not because I was drunk--far from it--just that even drinking a tiny bit has ill effects. But in that setting it was virtually impossible not to drink the stuff.) But I recently saw some Haitian recipes that intrigued me, so I decided to explore some of them while I'm stuck at home and have no hope of travel. A lot of them seem to be incidentally vegan, like this beans and rice dish.

Diri ak pwa is a kind of pilaf with onions, green pepper, garlic, kidney beans, tomato sauce, and a handful of spices. It is both like, and not like, the Mexican or Spanish rice I usually make by a very similar method. I left out the hot pepper so it wasn't at all spicy, though I suspect in Haiti it would be spicy. Maybe I'll have the leftovers with some hot sauce and see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sequestration Meal #178


I caved. I bought JUST Egg scramble mix. The price had come down, it was available to me, and I was still looking for a way to make Asian rolled omelets. I still haven't quite gotten it right, but that's mostly because the "egg" stuck to my pan. Back to the drawing board!

Here I have a most basic of assortments: A quick cucumber salad made from tossing slices of Persian cucumber in rice vinegar spiced with gochujang and then topping them with black sesame seeds, rice with shiso furikake, and my best effort at a traditional Korean rolled omelet (계란말이, i.e., gyeran mari, literally "egg roll"). 

I've always thought they were so beautiful with the orange and green of the finely chopped carrots and scallions against the yellow, but my own mung bean egg mix hadn't ever quite gotten me where I needed to be with rolled omelets, whether Korean or Japanese style (Japanese tamagoyaki is very similar to Korean gyeran mari, but sweeter and often just a seasoned egg mix without veggies). JUST Egg was a bit different than eggs--it behaved more like thin pancake batter, plus it somehow adhered to the pan I used to use for these things--so I have some work to do to get this right. But I know I'm very close. Next time, if it doesn't stick, I can make a bigger omelet.

This is very much bento food--도시락 (dosirak), I suppose, since it's Korean aside from the shiso furikake--and next time I make these, even at home, I think I'll put them into a bento box. Life is rough and we need things to look forward to.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Sequestration Meal #177


It is hard to be sensible sometimes. But on occasion my logical mind wins out and does things like remember there is half a can of chickpeas in the fridge and it would make sense to make some sort of easy meal out of that rather than something elaborate. So I made 15 Minute Chickpea Scramble from Darn Good Veggies.

Mine looked nothing like the picture, probably because I was cutting the recipe down and making a few substitutions like grape tomatoes for whatever tomato was intended. But it was pretty good with some avocado and toast, and I'd do this again if confronted with half a can of chickpeas and overwhelming fatigue.