Archive for Musings

Grocery Shopping During a Pandemic

I know a lot of people hate grocery shopping. They view it as a chore. But personally, I love it. In fact, I do it almost every day.

One of the realities of being me, a food blogger/cookbook author/someone who is unable to deny their cravings is that I need to go to the grocery store almost every day. I’m doing some recipe development, I’m out of coconut milk, off I go… I have a cute little produce store in my neighbourhood I visit often for fresh herbs, lettuce, or apples. It’s just a normal part of my every day life. It gets me out of the house, and I enjoy it.

Of course I do major grocery shops, too. I go to Costco every month or 6 weeks, and do a big box shop once every few weeks. Food is my second biggest expense, next to rent.

But the pandemic has changed all that. That thing that I used to enjoy has now become the thing that gives me anxiety. Lots and lots of anxiety.

I’m writing a new cookbook and I had to got to Costco. I’d been putting it off for weeks and weeks. In fact, right before the lockdown, I attempted to go one morning, but peaced out when I saw the lineup of cars. The situation was pretty desperate.

I made Michael stay home, even though he almost always goes with me to Costco because he loves the hot dogs.

I waited in line for nearly an hour just to get in. I had gloves, I had sanitizer, I had a podcast, I had a list. People were nice. The Costco staff was amazing. But the whole time I was standing there, the whole time I was in the freezer section, all I could think was “this trip to Costco could kill me.”

Me hugging my 10kg bag of flour that cost me more than a few grey hairs.

I know, it’s a long shot. Costco is disinfecting like crazy. The pandemic has actually been quite manageable here in BC. But this thing that I used to do on a daily basis, this thing I loved, has now potentially become deadly. I came out of the experience feeling like I’d lost a year of my life, but I had flour!!! 

It’s weird, because my life, unlike many others’ hasn’t changed significantly since the lockdown. I still work from home every day, I’m just not going to classes, I’m teaching them from home, which has been an adjustment for sure. I miss my face to face classes. I miss my friends. I miss happy hour french fries with Farzana. I miss eating at restaurants.

But I miss grocery shopping most of all. Who knew?

Sourdough Focaccia

When the going gets tough… the tough head to the kitchen.

Cooking and writing have always been my best therapy. But there’s a bonus to being able to cook and bake, and that’s being able to take care of other people.

Sourdough Focaccia

A few nights ago, I made this tray of Sourdough Focaccia. I love making sourdough bread, but I’m moving beyond it (I’m still making loads of bread) to other kinds of baked goods using sourdough. Like Focaccia. I was so happy with it, it turned out so well.

And I was able to leave some for my neighbour.

And I walked a few blocks and left some on the doorstep of my friend Lori’s apartment, and then backed away and then texted her. We had a 6-foot-distant conversation, and she placed a container of freshly made banana bread on the sidewalk in front of me.

This is love. This is the new love. Checking in, connecting, still feeding each other, even during a global pandemic when we can’t go within 6 feet of each other.

Focaccia Sourdough

Sourdough Focaccia

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour (I used 1 cup WW and 3 cups AP)

To top:

  • olive oil
  • course sea salt
  • rosemary (dried or fresh, whole)
  • cloves of roasted garlic (optional)

Method:

  1. In the workbowl of your mixer, place the sourdough starter, the water, olive oil and salt. Mix well together.
  2. Slowly add in the flour, using the doughhook attachment. (you can do all of this by hand as well, it just takes more time).
  3. Once all the flour is incorporated, continue to knead for another 5 minutes or so, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and drizzle over some olive oil. Cover the whole dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil. Place back into the bowl, cover, and allow to rise. You could also do a slow rise in the fridge over night. I let mine rise about 6 hours. It should be doubled in size.
  5. Drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil and brush it all over. Place the dough on the sheet pan and use your fingers to spread it out.
  6. Set aside for 30 minutes in a warm place, while your oven preheats.
  7. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees and allow it to preheat.
  8. Before putting the Focaccia in the oven, “dimple” it with your fingers, then drizzle over more olive oil and sprinkle with course salt. Sprinkle with rosemary and roasted garlic as well, if you like.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top. Eat while still warm. I like to dip mine in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
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