In our house, two days ago was the anniversary of the lockdown, the advent of COVID (Friday, March 12, 2020). Many terms and phrases have been used to classify how we survived in the past year – lockdown, isolation, social distance. I have referred to it as Hotel California in a number of these blogs. And so it continues … until it’s over.
In the meantime, I continue to create in a number of ways. Family meals, trying to present diversity with the same old ingredients, is the most frequent outlet.
January 4 (it seems like almost yesterday, where is the time going?) was National Spaghetti Day. National Meatball Day was just last week, March 9. Yesterday, March 14, many marked Pi Day. This annual celebration of the mathematical sign pi was created in 1988, by physicist Larry Shaw working at San Francisco’s Exploratorium.
National Spaghetti Day. For the actual day, I’m not sure I even followed a recipe. I guess I sautéed Chinese style vegetables – onion, zucchini, green beans, snow pea pods – most likely with soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. When they were done, I topped the vegetables with shrimp and steamed for about 6 minutes. Served on a bed of spaghetti with a salad.
A few weeks later I tried another spaghetti dish gleaned from the internet, Mark Bittman to be specific. This was pasta with sardines, bread crumbs, and capers. Usually I’d be averse to combing carb with carb, I thought I’d give it a try.
Start by putting about 2 tbsp of oil in a sauté pan. Add ½ cup of breadcrumbs and stir frequently for about 5 minutes, til golden. Remove. Add a bit more oil to the pan, then 1 chopped onion; cook about 5 minutes til softened. At the same time bring your pot of water for the spaghetti (or pasta) to a boil.
Turn the heat on the onions to medium high. Add 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 tbsp drained capers, and 2 cans oil-packed sardines* (I also had fresh snap peas that I added); stir occasionally for about 2 minutes. Cook and drain the pasta, reserve a cup or so of starch-rich pasta water. Add the pasta to the sardine mixture; toss to combine. Add ½ cup fresh parsley, the bread crumbs, and some reserved pasta water to moisten. Enjoy …
*I had never used this brand of sardines, King Oscar. I have no memory of how they entered the pantry. They were tiny, about 2 inches long, delicious.
National Meatball Day. I think the family has come to enjoy meatballs in soup, like Italian wedding soup. Again, a new recipe crossed my desktop and I thought I’d give it a try – something new during this extended period of mostly staying home.
Pho Meatball Soup. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degreesF. For the meatballs, mix one pound of ground beef*, ¼ cup of bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg, 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1-2 tbsps chili sauce (as usual, I omitted this), 1 tsp garlic powder, and ½ tsp ground ginger til well blended. Shape into 1 inch meatballs, arrange on a lined baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, drain the fat.
*I prefer to cook with ground turkey, but had the ground beef.
This recipe calls for ready-made Pho Soup broth, which I just happened to have on hand. Heat the broth, add the rice noodles (see package instructions), and meatballs. I also had some fresh baby bok choy and snap peas in the fridge and I added them – use your creativity when cooking! Cook 3-5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro, finely chopped green onions, and lime wedges.
Pi Day. I returned to one of Constant Companion’s favorites – onion pie. This recipe came from some food magazine or other that I subscribe to. It’s very easy and I probably leave something out of the original recipe.
Thinly slice loads of onions, I used three large ones this time. Cook them down til they are very, very soft. During the cooking add about 3 anchovy filets and mix them in thoroughly. When nice and soft and cooled, open a pie crust. I use pre-made because I’m not good at rolling a circle. Mound them in the center of the crust. Fold up the edges like a gallette. Put in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 45 minutes. Enjoy on pi or any other day.
So, as life moves on and we continue to expect the unexpected, our household continues wearing our masks, washing hands, and socially distancing if out and about. Let’s see what comes next!