As most of you know, my parents returned from Europe on Saturday and therefore, we are all quarantined at my home in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of the possibility that they were exposed to Coronavirus during their time abroad (or more likely, on their way home), we are acting with an abundance of caution in order to do our part in “flattening the curve.” My husband Sam and I stocked up on groceries (and wine, beer, and Campari of course) in the week leading up to my parents’ return in order to avoid grocery stores entirely during our two-week self-quarantine. I’m the type of person who shops for food frequently (often daily) based on what I’m craving or feel like making for dinner, so it was somewhat challenging for me to buy enough for 14 days worth of meals, but things are working out well so far. Though these are difficult times, I’m filled with gratitude for this unexpected time with my family. Our days are often centered around cooking dinner together. It’s a true joy (and great distraction) to spend time in the kitchen chopping vegetables, tending to dishes on the stove, drinking wine, and laughing.
As people across the nation hunker down to keep themselves and others safe, I thought I’d share what I filled my pantry and fridge with as well as some of the recipes we’ve cooked so far and plan to cook in the future.
Stocking Up for Self Quarantine
When Sam and I did our big grocery shop last weekend, we agreed before we went into the store not to buy anything that we wouldn’t normally eat. I really didn’t want to come out the other side of all this with a bunch of uneaten canned soup and protein bars in our basement – we don’t really like those things and we have more time than ever to cook, so it just didn’t make sense for us to buy those items. Here’s what we did buy:
We love chickpeas, so if we could be accused of hoarding anything, chickpeas would be it (we bought a dozen cans, decided that wasn’t enough and went back for four more). Whether they are crisped on the stove top, roasted in the oven, added to a braise, or used in a stew, chickpeas are delicious and nutritious. We also bought other canned legumes – black beans for taco night or chili and white beans (butter, cannellini, great northern, etc.) for beans on toast and hearty stews. Coconut milk is another staple for me – you can add it to a pureed soup for extra creaminess, make a quick curry with it, or use it to braise chicken. Canned tomatoes are also a must. I bought a mix of whole, crushed, and diced as well as a few cans of tomato paste. Of course if you’re going to be making soups and braises you’ll also need some stock – I freeze chicken bones and make my own, but often supplement with Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Stock and Vegetable Stock.
By the end of quarantine, we will have celebrated both of my parents’ birthdays – my dad’s was the day after they arrived and my mom’s is on Monday – so I knew I needed to stock up on baking supplies including flour, sugar (brown, granulated, and powdered), cocoa powder, and baking soda/powder. I also bought yeast (for making focaccia, pizza dough, and bread) and a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Oatmeal, rice, pasta, and lentils rounded out my dry goods shopping.
I figured it was a good time to do a quick inventory of my spice rack and see what I running low on or hadn’t replaced in a while (spices lose flavor overtime)! In alphabetical order, my most frequently used spices are: cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and I also made sure I had plenty of kosher salt, Maldon (my favorite flaky finishing salt), and peppercorns for my pepper grinder.
Dairy and Eggs
Eggs, butter and fermented dairy products (yogurt and buttermilk) last for a long time in the fridge and are key for both baking and breakfasts, so I bought more than I normally would of those items (I’m glad I did – the eggs, butter, and buttermilk are going fast thanks to a big batch of waffles and a cake I made). I also bought a few cartons of oat milk (I know, technically not dairy) for smoothies. I made sure we had some hard cheeses with long shelf lives (parmesan, aged cheddar, and gruyere) which are great for snacking and adding to pastas and soups. Though soft cheeses won’t last long once cut, a whole wheel of soft cheese will last for a while, so I picked up a small wheel of triple crème brie (we’ll probably dig into it during cocktail “hour” on my mom’s birthday and then finish it over the following few days).
Fruits and Vegetables
Yay for root vegetables. They last for ages in a cool dark place, so we bought lots of sweet potatoes, baby red potatoes, carrots, ginger, and alliums (definitely should have bought more onions and garlic though…I’m having to ration a bit). We stocked up on some other fresh fruits and veggies with a long shelf life as well including squash, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lemons, limes, oranges, and apples. In addition, we filled our upstairs freezer with fruit for smoothies and some frozen peas and spinach for adding to soups.
Pickles, Condiments, Oils and Vinegars
I love kimchi and use it frequently in my cooking, so I went to my favorite Asian grocery store and bought a large 64oz jar. Unfortunatley, I’ve already used most of it – should have bought two! Luckily, kimchi and other pickles and fermented foods last a long time in the refrigerator, so as long as you have the space, there’s no harm in stocking up. I also made sure we had mustard, soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin, gochujang, sambal olek, harissa, nut butters (tahini, almond butter, and peanut butter), honey, and most importantly oil (olive and canola) and vinegar (apple cider, rice, and white wine).
Food for the Freezer
We are very fortunate to have a chest freezer in our basement. I typically buy meat in bulk from my favorite butcher and put it in the freezer for when we need it, so we already had a pretty good supply of sausages, ground pork, bacon, chicken, and some braising meats (all of which come in very handy during our time in quarantine). I also bought sourdough bread from a local bakery and froze the loaves in freezer bags. I either unthaw them in the oven using this method or just set them out at room temperature to thaw (which is fine if it’s mostly being used for toast). It’s been really nice to have these items on hand.
Recipes We Love
Below is a list of some of our favorite recipes.
Nekisia Davis’ Olive Oil and Maple Granola
This granola disappears quickly…especially when my dad is in the house! Don’t skimp on the salt.
These are a bit of a project, but so worth it.
Buttermilk Waffles (This recipe is from the 1995 Stephenville First United Methodist Church Cookbook. It was submitted by Cynthia Sweeney.)
½ cup butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Melt and cool butter. Sift dry ingredients in large bowl. Beat eggs in small bowl at high speed. Add buttermilk and vanilla to eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir in melted butter. Bake in preheated waffle iron.
Lunch and Dinner
Who doesn’t like hummus? Eat it as a snack with carrots or add a scoop to grain bowls!
Carrot Top Pesto
You know those carrots that come with an excessive amount of greenery attached to them? Don’t throw it away! Make this instead! You can use it on pasta or pizza or really double down on the carrot factor by spreading it on a platter arranging roasted carrots on top.
Basic New York Style Pizza Dough
So easy and a great way to use up things in your fridge like leftover roasted veggies or the last little bit of a dried sausage. If you don’t have fresh mozzarella on hand (again, not really quarantine food), try baking the pizza without cheese and then grate parmesan over top after it comes out of the oven.
Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup
I like to stir in some greens at the end for a balanced one pot meal.
Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric
This is one of my absolute favorite dishes. It’s super easy, satisfying and it’s vegetarian (vegan without the yogurt)! Make sure to take the time to get the chickpeas nice and golden brown at the beginning – I recommend adding the garlic halfway through cooking the chickpeas so that it doesn’t burn.
Brothy Beans with Kimchi and Squash
If I’ve got extra time on my hands (like now!) I’ll roast the squash and stir it in with the beans.
BA’s Best Bolognese
We made this with chunks of stew beef instead of ground beef, which worked great. If you do that, skip the step where you smash the beef with a wooden spoon and double the cooking time in order to get the beef fall-apart tender – I recommend simmering the mixture on the stove top for 2 hours as directed, then transferring it to a 300 degree oven for another 2 hours or so.
I love making this with roasted cauliflower instead of lamb for meatless Monday! Just roast oiled and lightly salted cauliflower florets at 425 degrees until browned, chop the roasted cauliflower, and proceed with the recipe as normal substituting the cauliflower for the lamb. You may need to add some additional oil to the pan before adding the shallot mixture. We have also subbed cabbage for bib lettuce with great success.
Like the larb, you can sub cabbage for bib lettuce if you wish. Also, as much as I love raw oysters, they are really not necessary in the dish and definitely aren’t quarantine food.
Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Cabbage and Bacon
Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up all the tasty cooking liquid.
Harissa Rubbed Pork Shoulder with White Beans
I like to stir some hearty greens in along with the beans.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cake
A family favorite!
This recipe is from our wonderful family friend and master baker Marilyn Knight.
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups finely grated carrot
1 (14oz) crushed pineapple (drained)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups of icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavoring
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease a 13×9 inch pan.
Spread out walnuts on a large baking sheet and toast in oven for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant. Cool completely.
Whisk together first five ingredients in large bowl. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together and add to wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, then fold in walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until the center of the cake bounces back when you put light pressure on it. Cool completely.
While waiting for the cake to cool, make the frosting. Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. With the mixer running at low speed, add powdered sugar gradually until combined. Add salt and the extracts and mix at high speed until creamy.
Frost cake and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting!
We believe it is the responsible thing to do right now to practice social distancing. We look forward to this crisis coming to an end in time, and getting to travel again when it is safe. Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, the UK and all of Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips to European destinations. We also book European cruises! Feel free to reach out via email — We’re always available to talk about travel!
Chelsea is one third of the Euro Travel Coach team (and is the daughter of the other two thirds of the team, Greg and Betsy). She has a passion for food and wine and has a background in hospitality. She attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and interned with two of New York City’s best restaurant groups while she was in school. After graduation she worked at the number one wine auction house in the United States, Chicago’s Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. There, she organized various wine centric events for HDH’s most valuable clients. She and her husband moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2016 and then to Bristol, UK in 2018 and have traveled extensively during their time living in Europe. Her expertise in food and wine and her experience living abroad helps her to find amazing accommodations, delicious restaurants, and unique experiences for Euro Travel Coach clients.
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