Tuesday, April 21, 2020


OK. I'm bored with the evening meals...it will get repetitious.

Besides I spent all day digging, planting, re-potting the geraniums that were in the garage all winter, pulling weeds, raking up pine needles, bending, crouching, on my knees, lifting big pots, carrying plants, trimming, pruning, removing rocks....I am bushed, wiped out, tired.

And that was just the beginning of the spring time gardening chores... 

But a good tired. I really enjoy gardening and being outdoors. It's my Zen.

However, I need a change of scenery so I'll take the dog to the big dog park (Frank Ortiz Dog Park) tomorrow - we can hike an hour on the trails through the park in Santa Fe and Benni will be excited even BEFORE we get there.

Maybe I'll also try to get one more tomato plant (looking for a San Marzano) and a gallon of milk...and...

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic - 15

Bacon Cheeseburgers
Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion 
Fried Potatoes

I feel guilty. I don't really miss socializing that much. I am something of a recluse, no maybe that's too strong a word; I busy myself with projects and pass the time in mostly solitary pursuits and enjoy doing so. People tend to be interruptions. Phone calls are interruptions. I just really want to get back to what I was doing.

Some neighbors invited us to dinner. That was probably not a good idea as we are all supposed to be practicing social distancing.

We, Leon and I, explained that as we had both been out in public this past week, we could not guarantee that we had not been infected. (We didn't ask where they might have been.) So it was on us. We declined the invitation - to protect them. They understood.

So I don't have to feel TOO guilty about not socializing. I hope they will be more diligent about observing the proper ritual from now on.

Besides, as Sunday is our Saturday (no it's not some religious thing - Leon works Saturdays, so Saturday is our Friday, if our re-defined weekend makes any sense), I had planned to make bacon cheeseburgers and fries this evening.

I have been bad. What is with me? Buying beef? Yes, is was on sale at Sprouts, but I usually pass right by the beef. Maybe it is pandemic cravings. Burger.

As I had no rolls, I made some this morning.

Then we went for a walk and by noon we were doing a project...skirting the deck.

That's been on my to-do list for two years. And because it was a four-handed project, Leon helped - a lot. It is not completed but the major work is done.
That is a branch of a Juniper tree  
that we left growing when we built the new deck.

I am so lucky to have such a hubby. He is always ready and willing to help with my big projects, like replacing the fence in the back yard a couple of weeks ago.

So we worked through lunch until 5pm.

Then Leon cut up several potatoes - I had to get out the huge frying pan - for french fries. He put some bacon on the grill. I made the patties, sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce and cheese. Leon did the grilling.

Benni was standing by for his little burger and any bites that might fly through the air for him to catch.

Bacon Cheeseburgers, LTO with Fries

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 14

Back when Venice, Italy canceled Carnival, or actually just before the festivities began I became concerned that we might get sick and started making chicken soup to freeze.

How naive to think that chicken soup would get us through if we actually came down with the virus.

But I didn't stop there. I made ratatouille, ham hock and bean soup, tomato sauce with meatballs and sausage, stuffed peppers, and we got staples at Costco: Italian sausage, pork loins, ground turkey and a couple of whole chickens and packages of chicken parts. Coffee, chicken stock, sliced ham for sandwiches, and a large bag of tortilla chips.

(No, I did not buy toilet paper.)

Tonight I thawed out the stuffed peppers and made some steamed broccoli on the side. A little red wine and a loaf of decent, but not great, bread to sop up the juices.

Watching the news each evening we are thankful that we have food to eat and are not living paycheck to paycheck or in a free food line.

Years of frugality has not only given us a cushion but has taught us what we can do without.

Fortunately Leon is still working, though his regular duty station, Kasha Katuwe/Tent Rocks has been closed since March 13. He is on patrol at other BLM properties, a lonely, boring job in desert wilderness, but it's a job.

There are about 1800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico - one of the states with the lowest prevalence of infections so far.

I had to do some errands in town today. Most people are wearing masks, but not all. I was surprised how busy the shopping centers were. I bought some fresh veggies and some garden plants.

Well, time for dessert: a cup of decaf and a half of an apple turnover, from Sprouts.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 11-12-13

11 - Leftover Pasta from Easter Dinner

12- Lightly Fried Pacific Cod (Costco frozen cod) (No Photos)

      Leftover Cauliflower (No Photos)

      Bread Pudding

 Tonight - April 17

Beef Stew with Beef Chuck, olive oil, garlic, red wine, onions, celery, rutabaga, carrots, potatoes, crushed tomatoes, peas, bay leaf, s&p.

Bread Pudding with Hazelnut liqueur sauce.

So there is some town gossip I could share but I've had rotator cuff pain flare up for over a month and it has been keeping me awake for hours each night. Last night was difficult so today I'm just wiped out and cranky.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 9 & 10

9 Last evening just leftover pasta from Easter dinner.

10 Tonight:
Fried Boneless Chicken Thighs (Chicken Fried Chicken)
Sweet Potatoes
Red Potatoes
Chicken Gravy

Most of the time I enjoy cooking. Tonight everything just seemed like  a chore and I wasn't enjoying it at all. Almost - I say almost - burnt everything, but luckily I caught it all before disaster ensued.

I really miss going out to dinner once every week or two.

We had to go to town today for a vet appointment - routine rabies shots, heartworm test, rattlesnake vaccine, nail clipping, etc. The vet tech met us in the parking lot, took Benni inside and then delivered him back when all was done. Poor old pup. His daddies had to wait out in the car.

We had our face masks and wore them whenever out of the car. Like when I filled up the tank. Gas hasn't been this cheap since...years ago. But unfortunately there's no where to go.

Then we went through Arby's Drive through for 2 fish sandwiches and ate them in Lowes parking lot. Not exactly "dinner out" but it will do in a pandemic.

Leon had to purchase some supplies for maintenance at the Monument and I bought some tomato plants.

Exciting day. Then I really didn't feel like making dinner.

The vet asked what we feed Benni. Well, besides 3 different dog foods mixed together, he gets a serving of people food every evening after we're done eating.
Benni's Portion

Monday, April 13, 2020

What We Woke Up To This Morning

Unexpected, but not devastating like the tornadoes ripping through the south. This is New Mexico "spring".  It was in the 70s just the other day!

Those irises I posted a few days ago

I thought we were done with this stuff
I think the geranium will survive

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Explosive Easter Tradition - Florence Italy!

I'm not sure what to make of this...never heard of this Easter tradition, but it seems a bit bizarre. The history of Catholicism has many twists and turns.

Dinner for a Pandemic 8

Salad: lettuce, tomato, red onion, olives, Bosch pear chunks, strawberries, blood orange pieces. Balsamic vinaigrette.
Baked Penne Pasta with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Meat Ragu
Meatballs, Italian Hot Sausage, Roast Pork pieces
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Red Wine, Selzer

I do like to cook. Unfortunately we are not able to have guests, and I admit, that is part of the fun - feeding people good basic food.

I was either going to buy some lasagna noodles (forgot to put it on my list) or make homemade lasagna noodles with the pasta machine. I did neither. Looked in the cupboard and chose the penne pasta for this lasagna imposter - maybe the original Mac and Cheese.

I love pasta. I mean, I really love pasta.

And this was a holiday meal. Mom would usually make lasagna or manicotti for Easter. So this was also in memory of my mom.

We are also very fortunate to have food and drink and companionship and a house and a well behaved dog and a garden almost ready for planting.

We may not say a formal "grace" (latin: gratus, thankful) we do in our own simple way.

We decided to save our Easter Ham for sandwiches.
(Lost Photo of a Package of sliced deli ham)

And here are some lilacs for a visual desert.

Buona Pasqua

Good morning. Wish you could share a piece of this Easter Bread for breakfast. I am no longer very religious, but making special holiday foods reminds me of those who are no longer with us and is a connection to family and history.

Buona Pasqua alla famiglia e a tutti i nostri amici.

 The desert is blooming.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 7

Stir Fried Veggies (Onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery, bok choy)
Chicken (leftover store roasted chicken)
Leftover brown rice
Soy Sauce

Simple, healthy, lots of veggies.
Other than that, I made a bread for breakfast and a pot of sauce (ragu) for tomorrow's dinner. And wait till you see our Easter Ham.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 6

Grilled Ahi Tuna
Steamed Broccoli
Brown Rice with Onion, Garlic and Fennel 

Sautéed the onion, garlic and sliced fennel in olive oil added the rice and simmered with 1 cup chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups water. Brown rice never seems to cook here (altitude? mineral water?) but tonight it actually cooked. Put the broccoli on top of the rice in the last 5-10 minutes to let it steam. But the fennel didn't have much flavor...that was a wasted splurge.

Leon grilled the tuna that I got on sale at Sprouts yesterday.

Opened our last bottle of ALDI wine that we stocked up on last September when we were in California. A mild, sweet California moscato. Not bad for $2.49.

Spring is early - or at least some of the flowers seem early this year. The lilacs are in bloom as are some of the iris, which are my favorites.

"Truly Brave" (SFGMC Virtual Chorus)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 5

Nothing fancy...

Roasted Chicken, pre-cooked from Sprouts (More like a pigeon. $6.99 compared to Costco's twice as big for $4.99 but that's a whole other trip)
Fresh Asparagus with Mushrooms
Mashed Potatoes - leftover

Went grocery shopping today - with a little hesitation. We are still behind in virus cased in New Mexico but the numbers are climbing. I was dismayed by the fact that some customers were not wearing masks/nose-mouth covering, but walking around smugly as if they were above being infected.

They don't get it. The least they could do is have some respect for the clerks and cashiers who are working so that they, the ones above the rest, can eat. And to protect other shoppers like me from their possibly silent infections.

Really people, have some brains.

The associate at Sprouts said the store can require workers to wear masks, but not customers. I thought it was a state mandate. Saw the same irresponsible types at Smith's (Kroger's).

I loaded up on fresh veggies at Sprouts and got some other items at Smith's. Had to buy "free range" eggs because the no range eggs were sold out.

Shopping is an all-afternoon task. Left home around noon and got back around 3:15. A good 35 minutes  travel each way. Then washing and storing all the veggies and stocking my shelves in the garage...this task took another hour.

The trick with fresh veggies is to wash them under cold water and then cut off the stem end (broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, cabbage, celery, etc.) and re-bag them while still a bit wet. This fresh cut gives them an opportunity to draw moisture while awaiting a future dinner.

Hopefully, I won't have to shop again for 3 weeks. Except maybe milk. Our garage shelves are pretty well stocked.

Staying safe, for now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 4

Grilled Pork Chops
Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Apples
Yogurt Mashed Potatoes

The pork chops were actually cuts that I sliced off a pork sirloin roast that we bought at Costco (4-pack) last time we were there. $2.99lb.

That cabbage had very little time left so had to peel off some of the bad outer leaves, but it was good inside; the apples were good, if suffering slightly from the dry climate here. A little red onion, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar.

The yogurt (something I always resolve to eat because "it's good for you" but rarely do because I don't care much for yogurt (well, except for Frozen Yogurt from Smith's/Kroger which is very good) had a use by date of January 27th (this year I think). But yogurt doesn't go bad. I tasted it before spooning it into the mashed potatoes with butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I usually add milk, but trying to conserve.

I pray a lot when I'm in the kitchen. Some people would call it cursing but it is my way of thanking the karma or randomness of the Universe or god's dirty tricks.

Besides minor cuts and spills, the universe seems to think I need to bend more often...so regularly throws things on the ground or floor for me to pick up. Tonight it decided to slice my finger.

If anyone can cut one's finger opening a plastic container of yogurt, it's me (and from what I've read, maybe Mitchell).

So, damn it, I gashed my finger on the plastic lid. Maybe it had adhered too tightly because it was well aged.
Anyhow, dinner was put together in 45 minutes (Leon at the grill) so I didn't make Rachael Ray's 30 minute meal. But it was good. Stay well. Stay safe.

Dinner for a Pandemic 3

Grilled Turkey Cheese Burgers
with sautéd mushrooms and onions
and steamed cauliflower
We eat a lot of fresh vegetables but that usually requires at least one trip to Sprouts each week. So trying to cut back on trips to the market, on my last grocery shopping expedition I purchased the regular broccoli, zucchini, asparagus  - and two heads of cauliflower and two cabbages as they will keep better than most other veggies.

I already used one cabbage for a delicious soup of ham hocks, white beans and cabbage. We had that last week, but half is in the freezer for another meal.

I'm considering a trip to the store this week, but with a great deal of caution. New Mexico is still not considered an epicenter for the pandemic but as of this morning (April 8th) we have 794 cases, 13 deaths; 426 of those cases are in the Navajo Nation and 83 cases are on two Pueblos in our county.

I took a break from yard work yesterday and worked on my next book? story? novel? flop? writing exercise? The only good to really come of it was that my right shoulder/rotator cuff had a rest, so I slept pretty well without pain.

Leon is off to work this morning - he will be patrolling a wilderness area alone, which is a good thing, but VERY boring. I would offer to go along, but I am not allowed to ride in a government vehicle.

Till dinner...that other cabbage is waiting.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Dinner for a Pandemic 2

I'm going to try to keep a little dairy of our dinners as we use what's in the cupboard over the next weeks. I always buy what's on sale in quantity (but not the junky pre-packaged stuff with ingredients you need a chemistry degree to decifer). So we have a little store in our garage. Should do for several weeks, except for the milk, eggs and fresh veggies.

Tuna Burgers and Leftover Breaded Eggplant and Cauliflower 
with Fresh Home Made Bread Rolls 

(I have about 20 pounds of flour on hand - I bought a lot of King Arthur when it was on sale about a month ago, however as I am running low on yeast I am keeping a starter in the fridge)

Tuna Burgers:

One large can of tuna (bought in an 8-pack at Costco weeks ago)
Chopped fresh mushrooms, about a cup (bought last Friday at Smith's)
Assorted crackers, wizzed in a small processor. (They've been in the cupboard for months)
2 eggs
Yellow onion, chopped (about a 1/4 cup or more)
Black pepper, garlic powder

Formed into patties and fried in a little vegetable oil in the cast iron skillet. Lettuce, tomato for garnish

Leon put a little horseradish and a slice of cheese on his. I had mine "plain" but made sure to sop up the tomato sauce from the eggplant and cauliflower parmigiana with another roll.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dinner For Four

We had a very nice dinner this evening: homemade ricotta/spinach ravioli with tomato sauce and Italian sausages, meatballs and pork; fresh grated Reggiano Parmigiano; olives; red wine. Dinner music was late night jazz via YouTube.

There was enough for four, but we couldn't invite two friends, so it was dinner for two. Later we walked up the street (actually up the arroyo) and delivered dinner for two to neighbors John and Randy.

We hope to be able to have people to dinner once again...someday. Stay healthy, be safe. 


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