Two weeks before the 2020 lockdown, I bought a stack of bake at home pizzas from Papa Murphy’s, halved and quartered them to satisfy different tastes, re-wrapped them and stored them in the freezer.
That night, we masked up and made a flying trip to Sam’s Club, jam-packing two carts with food, drink and supplies. Back home, we unloaded our goods, rolled up the sidewalk and locked the doors. With few exceptions, we stayed there until March 1, 2022, two years later.
I spent a lot of time shopping online for food and preparing meals. We did not eat out, order in or pick up curbside. We did not purchase convenience items as packaging wasted precious freezer space. Breakfast and lunch were on your own, but I cooked dinner virtually every night. Chocoholic cleaned up. My cook once – eat twice mantra, quickly expanded to eat thrice or more. It saved on handwashing.
Food is a big deal in our household. Before the lockdown, I joked with friends that if we ever had to shelter in place, we would shortly run out of food, and one of us would probably eat the others.
We stocked up on flour, yeast, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. I guess I thought I would be baking a batch of cookies and a loaf of bread every week, but that didn’t happen. I made one batch of cookies… healthy ones, not chocolate chip. They went largely uneaten.
I made whole wheat bread once a month, but that took too much time, even with a bread maker, and I packed on 10 pandemic pounds. I routinely made pizza. We parceled out the Papa Murphy’s pizza for when we were desperate for a real treat and quick cleanup.
I began making healthy blueberry muffins using 100% whole wheat pastry flour, olive oil and little sugar for Chocoholic. They sound terrible but are really quite good.
Everyone was baking, even Flash’s husband (Flash is my good friend, workout buddy and literary mentor.) Lynn, my sister, gave me telephone tutorials on the care and storage of baking supplies. She began canning in earnest. I dragged out long dormant canning supplies and left them sitting on a table. Fifteen months later, I put everything back in the cupboard, unused, after disposing of my long unused pressure canner. Lynn wisely warned me it was unsafe to use after being dormant for so long.
I tried to anticipate what might turn into big problems and how to avoid or resolve them. I feared appliance breakdown, in particular the dishwasher, clogged drains and dental emergency such as a chipped tooth. We did not want a repairman or plumber in the house, nor did I want to go to the dentist’s office and sit there for an hour unmasked with my mouth propped wide open.
We treated drains to prevent clogs.
I ate popcorn very slowly, one kernel at a time.
I babied the failing dishwasher along, using descaling aides to keep it running, but in spite of tender loving care, it gave up the ghost. After weeks of internet search and consideration, we installed a new one.
Unfortunately, I failed to take such good care of the automatic bread maker and the electric mixer. Lockdown proved too much for them. Unknown to the rest of us, they signed a secret suicide pact and hurled themselves off the kitchen counter, crashing to the tile floor. The bread maker was a total loss. The mixer recovered after minor repairs. I bought a new bread maker from Amazon. It worked but suffered separation anxiety upon leaving the mother ship, screaming constantly when used. Lynn explained that flours are inconsistent. Cook has to figure out if the recipe needs more or less liquid, oil and yeast to make it work properly. Who knew?
I finally shut the little beastie up with recipes that bear little resemblance to those that came with the machine and watching it carefully, since what works when humidity is 40% doesn’t necessarily work when it’s raining.
Meanwhile, my stores of TLC are sadly depleted. I keep looking, but Amazon is sold out.
UPDATE 7/3/22: My community is once again located in a HIGH Covid-19 Transmission Zone. And experts estimate that there are significant numbers of positive cases that go unreported due to home testing and the decreased need for hospitalization. Unlike many others, we will once again live like hermits, social distancing to the degree possible. While vast improvements have been realized in disease severity and death rates, Long Covid which affects about 20% or more of those who have suffered the disease and Paxlovid Bounce pose real threats that we choose not to risk. This is getting very old, and there is no end currently in sight. I urge everyone to stay safe.