… with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez …

Who knew that going grocery shopping would become such an ordeal?

Having retired after almost 17 years in groceries, I thought I had seen it all – the frenzy of the days before Thanksgiving, the panic-buying before Hurricane Sandy, the run on milk, bread, and eggs the minute 2 inches of snow was forecast. But nothing in all of those years prepared me for this – panic-buying and the constant and continuous empty shelves.

We’ve been once-a-week shoppers for a really long time – even for fresh produce. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at using up those last stray bits in a soup or some such thing. I’d buy our basic staples – flour, beans, canned tomatoes during the winter, bananas, rice, yogurt… we do cook at home pretty much every meal. And once every few months I’d pick up the family-sized packs of toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues, laundry soap, and bleach…

I never gave it any thought. Granted, I’d never shop on weekends or the day before a major holiday, but shopping was always a brainless exercise – I’d go in, get my stuff, mentally complain about three cashiers open out of 23 registers, bag my goods, and go home.

Really simple. A chore, but a really simple one.

And now?!?

All of those things I took for granted are in short supply. And, to add insult to injury,  I stopped my online buying of bulk foods anticipating our moving west… I thought we’d just pick up the odds and ends, here, and restock at the new home. What a horrible time to be practical! All of a sudden, we don’t have those bins of lentils, beans, and flour – even core spices are running low. Things I just never thought of running out are getting low.

Being 68 years old, I really appreciate the early morning senior citizen shopping hours at a couple of our local stores, but… on my first trek out, the shelves hadn’t been very well stocked at 6 ayem. All those staples were missing. Hopefully, it will be better when I venture out, tomorrow. We’re far from destitute, and I could probably get really creative with dried fava beans and sweetened condensed milk if I had to, so I’m not concerned about going hungry. It’s just the uncertainty of it all.

In the meantime, we’re getting by quite well. We’re both stay-at-homes, for the most part, so being in the house isn’t a chore, for us. Granted, it is a bit strange knowing that we can’t do all of the things we never did, anyway, but… we’re getting by – and as long as the flour holds out, we’ll continue to eat well, too.

Last night, Victor made the best pappardelle with cherry tomato sauce. Totally awesome!

He used his basic pasta dough from Alon Shaya:

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

And the sauce… ::sigh::

Simple Fresh Sauce

  • cherry tomatoes
  • garlic
  • onion
  • anchovy paste
  • kalamata olives
  • oregano
  • S&P

Saute tomatoes, garlic, and onions in olive oil until tomatoes begin to break down. Add anchovy paste and olives, mixing well. Add oregano, and S&P, to taste. Add a bit of pasta water, if it appears too dry.

Add pasta that has been cooked about 9/10ths of the way and finish cooking in the sauce.

We had it with the rolls I made the other day – toasted in the oven with garlic butter olive oil and parmesan cheese. It was totally delicious. I pretty much licked my plate clean.

This morning, I made a batch of Lentil Soup. We’ve been doing soups for lunch for quite a while, now… they are one of the best and most nutritious things one can make – and they hide a multitude of sins.

Lentil Soup

This is a throw-together of:

  • lentils
  • celery
  • carrots
  • fennel
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • French herbs
  • cayenne pepper
  • S&P

For the large pot, I used 3 cups lentils, 5 carrots, 4 celery stalks, half a fennel bulb, and herbs and spices, to taste. After sweating the vegetables, I added the lentils, filled the pot with water, and brought it to a boil. I kept it at a low boil, adding the cayenne, herbs, and S&P, until the veggies and lentils were tender.

It’s pretty fool-proof.

So… keep eating, get creative, and don’t worry about not having an ingredient or how something will turn out.

It will be fine. We will all be fine.

Just stay home and limit those outside trips to ones that are truly necessary.