Like many people, the quarantine, stay-at-home, shelter in doors orders we have been living under for these past many weeks have caused disruptions we had never expected. Our work schedules have been disrupted, whether you have been furloughed or have adjusted to working online. Our recreation, family time, or even shopping for necessities have changed dramatically. In our own lives, one of the things that has changed, hopefully for the better, has been our meals.
While I have always enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes, I’ve never been much of a meal planner. We’ve always had ready access to a local grocery and farmers markets. I would shop every two or three days and plan meals based on what looked good, what was on sale, or even what I had seen browsing a magazine while sitting in my dentist’s waiting room. But plan and shop for a week or two in advance? Never happen.
So the first time my wife came back from our local Giant grocery and reported what she had found—empty shelves, bread aisles picked clean, meat coolers cleaned out— well I was shocked. And worried. What if this lasted for more than two or three days? Like many of us, I found that it was too late to stock up the pantry and freezer. If you hadn’t already been putting away that extra pound of hamburger or loaf of bread, well good luck friend. But we lived thru snowmageddon and blizzards before, power outages and hurricanes. Surely after a week, all would return to normal. We are still waiting for that to happen.
Which brings me to zucchini. Last week I stopped at our local international foods grocery, Lotte. One of the things I love about shopping there is the amazing selection of fruits and vegetables. So wandering the aisles, trying to keep my face mask on and pick up veggies using a plastic bag so as not to touch anything else, I filled my cart. Like a man liberated from a low calorie diet, I just grabbed stuff. When I got home, I had baby bok choy, plantains, Thai eggplant, scallions, garlic. And zucchini.
But no plan how to use any of these foods. No menus, no recipes, just plastic bags full of my winnings.
The bok choy and scallions ended up in a Korean meal with bulgogi (thank you Suki). Plantains became Puerto Rican pastelon. And the eggplant ended up in a casserole. But a week later the zucchini still lay in the bottom of my crisper. So two of them went into zucchini bread. That was easy. But the rest? What to do, what to do.
When I can, I reach back to my Dad’s cooking for inspiration. Nothing fancy, meat and potatoes kind of cooking, but he always had zucchini in the garden. And he always prepared it the same way, fried up with onion and green peppers. Which I had. So that’s what we had, though I’ve added seasonings that my Dad had never seen (and truthfully would never have used). And I like garlic more than he did. And I don’t think he ever bought olive oil. But still the same, here’s Dad’s fried zucchini with onions and peppers. Dressed up with pimientos and seasoned with Sazon.
Bueno provecho! Thanks Dad.