Creature Comforts for Quarantine

Creature Comforts for Quarantine

First of all, how are you? How are things going for you out there? I’m honestly starting to settle into the acceptance phase of this whole thing and have identified some creature comforts.

Of course I don’t prefer quarantine life, but it hasn’t felt like an outright assault on my mental health the last for 48 hours or so. So, you know, I’ll freaking take it!

What has helped me most this past week is spending less time on Twitter. Reactions to Trump’s daily briefings combined with reactions to his toilet tweets, were really wearing me down. Don’t get me wrong, all the outrage is entirely justified. I just desperately needed to limit my exposure to them.

It’s like limiting my sun exposure. Sure, I need my body to make vitamin D, but that doesn’t mean I should be exposing myself to direct sun for hours a day. Right?

Right. So here’s a photo essay on some of the stuff that’s been making me feel almost human the last week or so:

Zentangle Videos

I’m still uploading new videos on my channel. Most recently working with supplies from Project Pack No. 8. I really enjoyed drawing the black Zendala tile with the brightly colored Gelly Roll pens. It’s so satisfying to me to see the ink roll over the page that I’ve watched my own video at least a half dozen times. Don’t judge me!

Coloring Page for Patrons

I’m really proud of this! You might recall that at the beginning of the year, I listed making a coloring page as one of my goals for 2020. Well, I did it! I scanned a full-page Zentangle doodle from my notebook, scanned it, and used it traced the pattern using Krita so I could remove the dot grid and clean up the lines for coloring. It’s now a download for my Patrons. I also posted short videos of the process to my Facebook and Instagram. Go me!

More Cooking and Baking

Homemade FroYo

I promised in an earlier post that I’d tell you about the Dreamsicle flavored froyo recipe. It’s so simple. Three cups of plain homemade yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Then you just churn it in your ice cream maker (I used my handy KitchenAid ice cream attachment) until it’s the consistency of soft serve. So. Much. Yum!

Banana Bread

The banana bread is from a cookbook my mom sold as a fundraiser in high school. The book isn’t dated, but she guesstimates it is about 54 years old. This is the recipe we always used when I helped my mom bake as a kid. It’s my favorite for that simple reason alone.

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

And then there’s this chicken casserole, a recipe that came from the church potlucks of my youth. It’s chicken pieces and frozen broccoli cuts covered in a simple cheese sauce, then topped with Stove Top stuffing and baked and until everything it’s all bubbly and warm. Ah, casseroles. They aren’t fancy, but sometimes they are the only thing that will do.

Cutting My Own Hair

Yep. I really did. My mom was supposed to give me a cut, but it got delayed by coronavirus. And let me tell you, I absolutely cannot stand to grow my hair out. Not only is it impossible for me to deal with from a practical standpoint, but it also sets off the already waaaaay oversensitive nerves in my neck and shoulders post-brain surgery. So, while I’d love to have my old hair back, I have accepted that it will never happen. I have made my peace with it and I have embraced the clippers and an edgy undercut as creature comforts.

You Gonna Eat That?

You Gonna Eat That?

Not much going on at our house today. Just watching Dr. Strange on TV and eating some leftover cornbread. As you can probably guess, I never eat alone here.

Thursday, Dan made his semi-annual giant batch of Dan’s Happy Chili. It makes enough for a small army, so he divvied it up into one-pound portions, froze it into pucks, and then vacuum sealed the pucks individually with the refurbished FoodSaver he bought on meh. for $20 a couple of years ago. (Worth every penny and then some!)

I’m not a huge fan of cornbread in general. It’s got a nice flavor, but it’s usually so dry it makes me choke. (After chemo, yeah, I have issues.) However, I stumbled on a recipe years ago which has become our go-to during chili season. It’s dense, moist, and sweeter than other cornbreads I’ve tasted. And that makes it kind of the perfect side for Dan’s well-spiced chili. (Second only to the peanut butter sandwich. If you have never tried one with chili, you must.)

Anyway, we skip the glass baking dish and mix and bake the cornbread recipe from start to finish in a 10″ cast iron skillet. I love that I don’t have to lug out the stand mixer or dirty extra bowls for the recipe. 

dan's happy chili and a slice of cornbread
Best Bundt Cake Ever

Best Bundt Cake Ever

“Hey, Em,” Dan said. “I noticed the cake stand has been empty for a while.”

I laughed. “Dude, it was just washed last night. It’s only been sitting empty on the dining room table for, what? Twelve hours? Not even twelve hours!”

But, point taken.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “you go to Meijer and get the stuff I need, and I’ll make you a cake. You pick the flavor.”

Twenty minutes later, Dan had returned with three cake mixes and nine boxes of Jell-O pudding. “The grocery gods heard my cries for cake and decided to hold a 10 for $10 sale on cake mix and instant pudding!” He held a plastic bag aloft.

The recipe below is adapted from Dangerously Delicious’s Pistachio Pudding Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ingredients

CAKE MIX
1 box yellow cake mix
3 boxes pistachio pudding dry mix
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 C milk
1 C sour cream
4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all cake ingredients in stand mixer and pour into greased bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place cake on serving plate and cool.
  4. Skip the frosting.

Emily’s Notes

Change the flavors! The pistachio cake is delicious, but last week we swapped chocolate cake and pudding mix, and it was heavenly.

This batter is thick and heavy. The original recipe says to use a hand mixer, but the motor in mine just couldn’t hang and I’m still to weak to mix this effectively by hand. I let the Kitchen Aid do the heavy lifting for this recipe.

This cake is really dense and really delicious and just the right amount of sweet for me. After trying it with and without frosting, I prefer it without.

Yes, I wrote about this cake once before, and I am writing about it again. It’s that good.

Cooking with a Brain Tumor: Giant Zucchini Edition

Cooking with a Brain Tumor: Giant Zucchini Edition

This is tonight’s dinner, made by yours truly with the ginormous zucchini Dan yanked from the garden the other day. It took a long time for me to get these things done—and Dan handled everything that required knife skills or a food processor—but I feel so stinking alive making food for us.

The recipes, if you’re interested:

Summer Fresh Corn and Zucchini Chowder

and

Zucchini, Cheddar Cheese, Chive & Buttermilk Quick Bread

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