Working from home has recently been rather difficult for me. I am someone who gets energy from being around other people and I miss being able to tell my coworkers about my weekend, or what I made for dinner the night before. I even miss the sometimes sad small talk in the lunch room waiting for fresh coffee to be made.
There isn’t a good answer for what ails me, because it’s what we all are experiencing at the moment. The ups and the downs of a pandemic, the fear of the unknown, the crippling anxiety of getting COVID or knowing someone who has COVID or getting the COVID vaccine or COVID! COVID! COVID! screaming at you from all angles of your life.
Because cooking is one of the only things that has grounded me during COVID and writing seems to calm me down, the two naturally seemed like a perfect outlet for me. I suppose this is my new way of vocalizing something, anything, when I don’t get my regular dose of human interaction.
So, here are my current obsessions and new discoveries in eating:
- Being a popcorn-aholic is not a new discovery for me. I did, however, recently discover how delicious popcorn is with coconut oil. I never buy coconut oil but we just so happened to have a jar of it in the pantry and were running low on vegetable oil. The discovery: there is a sweet, luscious, almost creamy taste to the popcorn when you use coconut oil.
- On the subject of popcorn, I recently discovered Trader Joe’s Everything but the Elote seasoning, which is described as “salt, chile pepper, cheese, chipotle & cumin.” It’s fantastic on popcorn, but I’m looking forward to using it on tacos, roasted vegetables, eggs, avocado toast with sea salt, you name it. The possibilities are endless!
- Radishes have become a staple in our fridge. While they aren’t quite in season right now so they don’t have as much of that sharp, peppery taste, sliced thinly and topped with a sprinkling of sea salt is like an orchestra in your mouth anytime of the year.
- I didn’t know what I was missing until I started eating hominy. We’ve been on a hominy kick lately because they were in the discount section of Metro Market and we managed to get a handful of cans, but I will certainly be paying full price for a can of these bad boys in the future. So far, I’ve made a vegetarian version of pozole soup twice, added it to chili, and our personal favorite: crisped them up in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. It produces a crunchy, almost popcorn-like flavor, except it’s mushier on the inside and tastes heartier. Tonight, we are trying fried hominy in tacos with roasted potatoes, leftover cabbage, avocado and blended chipotles in adobo (that we slather on pretty much anything savory).
- I bought this new olive oil off of Amazon that so far, I am loving. The brand is ZOE and while I am not an olive oil fanatic (I usually just buy the cheap stuff), nor do I know much about “authentic” olive oil, this one tastes pretty authentic to me. I paid more than I would normally but considering how much I cook, I thought quality olive oil was a required Big Girl Cooking Step.
- Finally, I would not be able to end this post without sharing a little something about my new favorite salad: panzanella. Why didn’t I know about this before?! I love salt, I love acid, I love vegetables, and I love all things bread. If you don’t know about panzanella, you should. It’s crusty bread (often day old bread), with a variety of vegetables (cucumbers, peppers, red onion, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) topped with something salty like capers or olives, dressed in a vinaigrette of dijon mustard, a generous glug of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. My partner made this for us last Friday after we saw it being prepared on an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games and it was fantastic. He said it tasted even better the next day so next time, I think we will try and make it ahead of time. I would consider adding some feta, and maybe some jalapenos for heat, but it was a quite lovely, comforting salad that would pair well with some type of meat as a main course or a couple bowls-worth on its own.