I hope you and your loved ones are as well as possible. We’ve been doing our best to stay home. Our dog is thrilled. Here’s a few notes on things I’ve been cooking and take-out meals we’ve really enjoyed.
Easy Home Cooking Ideas:
There are many brands of Japanese curry sauce blocks – this is a commonly-found brand I bought last month. You can sauté whatever vegetables and protein you have in your kitchen. Then, just add water and melt in the appropriate number of curry blocks. I am just learning about all of the ways you can customize the sauce.
What I’m gathering is that adding a sweet note is essential to round out the flavor, such as grated apple, a touch of sugar or honey, or even chocolate. I took a few suggestions from this post and Reddit posts (like this), adding caramelized diced onion, Worcestershire sauce, and some shredded cheese to each bowl. It was delicious and perfect for leftovers.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
One of the easiest side-dishes is cut-up sweet potato roasted in oil with your favorites seasonings. Lately, I’ve enjoyed using salt, pepper, garlic powder and berbere.
Something my folks do is bake the whole sweet potato in foil until it’s super soft and melting. I rub the potato with olive oil, salt and pepper. Typically I don’t like to bake potatoes in foil because it prevents the skin from crisping, but this is how my folks make it and it’s comfort food to us.
Smush in some butter and/or sour cream and you’re good to go.
Eggs last a long time in the fridge. While I’m hearing about egg shortages, we haven’t struggled to find them in our smaller grocery stores. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are lots of smaller stores like neighborhood grocers, Lunds & Byerlys, Asian, Mexican markets, etc. that have the basics like kimchi, eggs, and toilet paper.
For dinner, I’ll often fold whatever vegetables and cheese that we have into a giant omelette.
First, I cook three scrambled eggs until a patty starts to form. Then, I add some cheese and vegetables such as diced bell pepper, leftover roasted potato, onion, or a handful of spinach. Finally, I fold and flip until the cheese is melted and everything melds together. It’s enough food to serve two with a side dish or save for a second meal.
Whole cabbage also lasts a long time in the fridge. Cabbage doesn’t get enough love. When it’s simply sautéed or steamed and seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper, it’s sweet and delicious.
Cabbage is also perfect to bulk up stir fries, soups, the Japanese curry I mentioned above, or omelettes.
Local Foods Available Via Curbside Pick-Up:
I was sad to see Rise bagels is closed. St. Paul Bagelry is open and they also make good bagels. Order online and pick-up curbside. For $18 (before tax and tip), you can order 13 bagels of your choice + two containers of cream cheese. Bagels freeze well – simply pop some in the freezer for later. If you’re like me, the two tubs of cream cheese won’t last long. My favorite combo is a salt bagel + honey walnut cream cheese. Their everything bagels are absolutely crusted with everything bagel seasoning.
Salsa from El Burrito Mercado
The salsa bar at El Burrito Mercardo in West. St. Paul has been our favorite for years. We love the Salsa Nortena, a spicy, creamy red salsa. Their new website allows you to order groceries (and dishes) online to pick-up curbside. Some of their salsas, including the Salsa Nortena, are available by the pint. Now that I work from home, I have time to make quesadillas for breakfast. I love toasting up corn tortillas with a little bit of cheese (and maybe a smear of honey) and dipping into salsa.
You can order fresh jalapeños by the pound. I roast them until their soft and the skin is charred.
We feel gutted about the local restaurant closures including two of our favorites, Stewart’s and Broders. We’re grateful our jobs have allowed us to work from home and try to order takeout when we can. Here are some meals we’ve enjoyed recently. We feel so grateful for everyone who is risking their health to feed others and care for the sick. The least we can do is stay home as much as possible.
Mucci’s Italian Chicken Parmesan dinner: If you like leftovers, call and see if you can order the big chicken parm dinner. Depending on what size you get, the chicken parm dinner costs about $30-$40 and comes with bucatini and tomato sauce, a whole focaccia and choice of house or chopped salad. Made with care, delicious. Would highly recommend.
Bull’s Horn makes it very easy to order online and pick-up curbside. I feel bad we’d never visited and hope to as soon as things get better. The burgers are really delicious. We ordered the basic Bulls Horn Burgers which reminded me of an elevated Big Mac with the shredded lettuce, onion, pickle, and “special sauce.”
The cheese curds are fried in an airy crisp batter and served with homemade thousand island. I saved every bit of the leftover thousand island and side of ranch to dip things into during the week. I doubt it will be long before we go back for more burgers.
Shuang Cheng is not too far from our home and my go-to for Chinese food. It’s located in Dinkeytown the University of Minnesota. For best social distancing, I would recommend calling and paying over the phone by credit card. There’s some parking spots out front for take-out where you can call them again upon arrival. The food is made with care and generously portioned. Lots of fresh veggies and sauces that aren’t too sweet.