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  • Writer's pictureMarylee

COVID Cooking:Science Experiment or Episode of "Chopped"

For most of us, the Self-Quarantine and Social Distancing practices have us cooking at home a lot more often than we used to do. Especially considering that it can be up to all three meals a day now with the whole family home. No matter how much grocery shopping we do, I am sure we have all found ourselves digging in our pantries and finding archeological artifacts! It can be challenging and also rewarding to discover new uses for that jar ofRotelchilis and tomatoes! My husband often praises me that I am able to make “something out of nothing” with what I find in the fridge and pantry. But this “togetherness” is bringing it to a whole new level!

In digging through my pantry, the first item I decided to make was a box of Duncan Hines Blueberry muffins. Now this was really an episode in “Eating History.” If you have not heard of it yet, there is a new show on the History Channel where the two guys eat rations from the cold war or other preserved delicacies from the past! I say this about my Blueberry muffins because I could not find a use by or sell by date on the box. Hmm. How bad could they be? The mini blueberries from Maine are packaged in a small can, just like I remember making with my mom when I was a kid. I opened them, and they were fine. Color was perfect. Looked just like I remembered them. The mix was fine, so I went ahead and made them. All was well and we enjoyed them for breakfast the first weekend of the “lock down.” After that success story, I was brave and decided to try another box, this was a box of chocolate chip cookies mix. This box also lacked a sell by date–hmm, could my pantry have magically erased those dates? The cookies were also fine–I added some chopped nuts that I found in the pantry, too, as a bonus! Lol!

As we move into week two, I am having to dig deeper for desserts. I found sugar free Jell-O pudding, Pistachio of all flavors! That survived as if I just bought it yesterday! Do not fear the Green color! But the flavor–how do you makePistachio flavoring? We took bets on the ingredients then Googled it, and sure enough in case you wondered, it is mostly Almond extract and some Vanilla extract and some real Pistachio flavor, too–thank goodness for the real pistachio flavor!

Now I felt brave and decided to dig into my freezer. I have the style where the freezer is on the bottom, and usually we are pretty good at keeping track of what we put in there. But as I moved items around taking an inventory and making a plan for what I would thaw and cook next, I came across a package of steak that had fallen under some items in the bottom. “Oh, nice Skirt Steak! We like that! Perfect! We can have that this week.” Until I looked at the date on the packaging…. 3/25/17! Yikes! I told my co-worker, and he said, “They say that freezing preserves foods indefinitely, it should be fine to eat- how bad could it be?”  Well, I am here to tell you, freezer burn is a real condition that affects the flavor and texture of the meat. I don’t recommend it! Lol!

So if you are running out of artifacts to cook or are tired of trying to playChopped, maybe it is time to do some curbside takeout or delivery to support our local small businesses and restaurants.All this home togetherness has been fun, and we know it is not over yet, so be sure to vary your meals and try something different. I would love to hear some of your "Chopped" experiences! Feel free to reply and share. We are all in this together, and we will all get out of this together with Grace. So let’s not forget our sense of humor and our compassion for each other. Be Well, Stay Safe, Continue to follow Social Distancing. It is my pleasure to stay in touch with you all.️

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