What I Learned This Week: #179/#180

Monday, January 18 – Sunday, January 31 – 2020

The Week in Resetting My Reset, Again: As I try to make sense of this Covid upended life, I’ve gone through a series of resets. I keep switching up my response of how I”m dealing with the collateral damage of living through a global pandemic. Every few weeks, as new information is available and the forced lack of social activity grinds on, I find myself getting kind of down. Because I hate that, I find a way to reset myself and my mental state and I ride that till I need to reset again. What else can I do?

I have settled in, as most of us have, but I still give myself so many pep talks I’m like a coach for a mediocre team that shows signs of brilliance but can’t get it’s act together. I’m living through Covid like any sports teams in the first half of any sports movie but I’m not sure if I’m a scrappy winner or hard luck loser. I mean, I’ve never even met my opponent, but I feel the force of Covid every day. Gah! It’s not easy!

The Week in Vege-ing Out, Literally: I treated myself to one of those single-topic cooking magazines that are always up by the registers at groceries and book stores. The topics are endless, 60 Soup Recipes for Fall, A Month of one-Skillet Dinners, 50 Meals in 30 minutes or less, and on. At 10 bucks or so, these are cheaper than full on cook books and they usually have some great ideas to get out of a cooking rut. I bought a copy of “America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Ever Slow Cooker Recipes, 90 Foolproof Favorites.” They don’t use exclamation points, but they should.

Their Vegetarian Chili looked really good. Of course, I had to work with it a little, as shown. America’s Test Kitchen recipes are designed for home cooks in a hurry. They minimize dishes used, ingredients, and fancy techniques and still come up with great food. I have time to do dishes and add an ingredient or two. I also like that they test ways of getting flavor that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own – like using soy sauce in chili. The result was outstanding. It is the best vegetarian chili I’ve made and with way less chopping than the usual versions I’ve tried. Plus, I got to use bulgur and I like to say bulgur. That’s a recipe bonus!

There were edits.

The Week in Reproduction: A friend of mine suggested that I make Copy Cat Olive Garden Tuscan Soup, a potato, sausage and kale soup. So I did. I haven’t been to Olive Garden in years and I’m actually not familiar with the original soup. I should note that I’m not an Olive Garden hater. For the price, I think their food is decent. And, like most chains, they are great sometimes, and mediocre others, but it is an easy restaurant to go to.

I always order minestrone probably because my brain thinks minestrone is the most Italian soup. Also, my brain often see the word Tuscan as Tuscon, which is decidedly not Italian. Anyway, using some high quality hot Italian sausage and traditional smoked bacon from Findlay Market, and following Delish.com’s recipe to a T, I produced a very fine Tuscan/Tuscon Soup.

The Week in Patience and Cookies: Here’s a rare glimpse into single living where I illustrate the proper, uninterrupted way to eat a tin of cookies from worst flavor (the practically gross Finnish Bread Cookie) to the sublime Coconut Cookie. #singlelife #evenagrosscookieisanokaycookie

Protestant work ethic applied to cookie eating. Save the best for last.

The Week in Snow Moves: Snow! I got to wear my snow boots on my walk to work! Probably an over-reaction to an inch of snow, but, I’m pretty stoked about wearing my snow boots. Best part…The squeaking sound they make on the floor at work and that is the closest thing to a basketball move that I have in my repertoire.

The Week Book and a Beer…During Wing Week: Here’ proof of my participation in Cincinnati Wing Week, featuring Asian style wings from Dope! Asian. Delicious, though the walk home with hot wings took a toll on their crispiness. Also, a big damn book and the not photogenic Bell’s Two Hearted IPA. Truth is, I’d rather have wing week at the restaurant, but this will do for now!

Truth is…I like wings

The Week in Screaming at Trees: In the background of the wing picture you can see the progress of my colossal struggle with a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that has been torturing me since the beginning of the month. After the water part came together so easily, I was surprised how difficult the rest of the puzzle was. And I was surprised at how much aggression I worked out cussing at the trees.

Freakin’ trees!!!

The Week in Hey Boo – Not a Really a Literary Reference: Possibly my favorite line in To Kill a Mockingbird is way at the end when Scout finally is face to face with Boo Radley, “Hey, Boo” she says. It’s a pivotal moment in Scout’s understanding of humanity, and it is often at the back of my mind when people call each other Boo. Yes, it’s a term of affection, but it’s a also a modern way, slightly less sexist way of calling someone baby. It’s also a young person’s term. I aged out of being called Boo about the same time it came into fashion. But this week on my evening walk I stopped to talk to a random neighbor and as I stepped away he said “Take care, Boo.” Aww!

The Week in Time – More of a Literary Reference: At some point early in the Covid Confinement I looked up at old St. Mary’s Church and realized that, though the church bells still chimed, the clock hands were gone. Of all the big neighborhood changes taking place during early Covid, the simple disappearance of clock hands weirded me out. George Orwell’s 1984 uses a clock striking 13 as a cue that all is not well. Clocks symbolize nostalgia. At the time, when it felt like I was losing everything, I appreciated my own nerdiness in remembering an arcane literature allusion. My brain still worked! Anyway, last week, the week of the inauguration, I realized the hands were back, and shinier. They must have left for some cleaning and TLC. I get it. And I’m glad they’re back.

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