Calling this a strange few months is the ultimate understatement.

The pandemic has hit us harder than most people with the death of Victor’s mother, but we’ve been spared the fear that far too many have of how to pay their bills and feed their children – or figuring out if the jail time would be worth murdering the little blighters. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. With six of us, I’m sure my mother would have gone for the jail time.

There’s no question that this has taken a real emotional toll on almost everyone, but we’ve been able to isolate with high speed internet and a roof over our heads in relative quiet and comfort. We’re lucky we like each other.

And, we’re eating well. I guess that pretty much goes without saying – we have always eaten well. We’re just getting more creative as ingredients run out or become unavailable.

The last time I was physically in a store was the end of March – wearing a mask before they were mandated. Since then it has been all delivery – from the local grocery store and a local restaurant. to a local brewery and a local distiller. It’s been great being able to put money into the local economy – and we’ve been tipping really well. That’s important, also.

I miss grocery shopping – it’s the only shopping I actually like – and I like walking up and down the aisles at my leisure, stopping and looking at things, getting ideas, creating recipes on the fly. Although I always shop with a list, I also like being able to make an impulse buy when something catches my eye, or change my mind and not get something on the list. None of that is possible with online shopping – and with product availability being what it is, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, so it’s impossible to really plan meals. One merely gets ingredients and hopes for the best.

And then… get creative.

For me, that is the fun part of all of this. Once Upon A Time, I got paid good money to be creative with different foods, create recipes, and sell the hell out of things. I find it’s actually quite easy to take an idea and completely rework it to fit what you have in front of you. A large part of that, no doubt, is because I grew up with a mother who fed her family like that. To boldly go where no man – or woman – has gone, before…

Monday’s dinner is a perfect example…


I saw a post from a Facebook friend about a Southern Italian dish called a Tiella – a layered casserole of sorts. I didn’t have the ingredients that were used in the original recipe, but, in reading through the post, there are as many variations on the recipe as there are people making it. It’s often used as a side dish, but can also be used as a main dish. Without a single Italian ingredient, I gave it a go. Later, I realized that years ago I made a totally different style of Tiella based on a recipe from Lidia Bastianich. You can check that one out, here


Into a small casserole, I layered:

  • sliced potatoes
  • chopped onion
  • barely cooked chicken
  • sliced andouille sausage
  • a can of cannellini beans
  • colby jack cheese
  • white wine
  • sourdough bread cubes drizzled with olive oil
  • thyme
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper

I covered it and baked it at 375°F for 30 minutes and then uncovered and baked at 425°F for another 15.

It came out great. Taste-wise, it was nothing like the original recipe, but it followed the concept in spirit – and was a damned fine meal!

Yesterday was a use-things-up-because-we-have-more-coming day.

The thought was open-faced burgers on the last of the Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread – because I was baking more and making some rolls – and a salad Victor had found a recipe for a fennel salad with a creamy dressing of mayonnaise, olive oil, anchovies, lemon, olives…

We didn’t have the fennel, but we had the ingredients for the dressing. To work he went!


Creamy Olive and Lemon Dressing

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together, cover, and refrigerate until use.

For the actual salad, Victor sliced celery, cucumber, and green unions and mixed them with the dressing, topping it all with fresh chives, a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano, and crushed black pepper. It was perfection.

And then it was the burgers…

Thick slices of toasted Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread topped with the same dressing as the salad, lettuce, thick slice of tomato, and a burger topped with provolone cheese.

Today, we have fresh bread and fresh rolls – ready for some BBQ Brisket, tonight…

It really doesn’t get much better…