My Pandemic Diary, Entry #33
Hello Fellow City Cooks,
It’s Saturday and Mark and I are back from taking a wonderful morning walk. We did our usual brisk three miles, which takes us about 40 minutes if you include the pauses to let dogs and their walkers pass by. Although we got what we thought was an early start, there were quite a few people already out and about, maybe because it’s a weekend or maybe because it’s a beautiful spring day. Most folks were considerate and following the distance guidelines but the added crowds made the walk a bit stressful, or at least not as freeing as we’ve known our outings to be.
As good as we feel after taking our walks -- and we have no plans to stop doing them -- we’re getting concerned about our state of fitness and the prospects of our gym opening soon. And even if/when it does, will we want to go back to a crowded room of sweating fellow members. Since it’s likely we’re looking, at least, at another year of pre-vaccine conservatism, Mark has started to research hand weights and indoor bicycles. Not a Peloton, but something that would more modestly do the job. We do have a spot in our apartment that is not yet occupied by furniture and while I had other decorating plans for it, it seems that new circumstances can change our ambitions and I’m warming to the idea of having a bike instead of a bar cart.
If we think about all the aspects of our lives – how we exercise, how we cook and eat, how we teach and learn, how we work, how we play – all of that could change permanently if contagion becomes a part of the risk management of daily living. I am not someone who likes change. I never have. But if we don’t accept change, we won’t progress and right now, we might not even survive. I also believe that we are far more adaptable than we think we are, or want to be. At least this is what I’m telling myself as I anticipate having a recumbent bike in my living room.
The rest of the day is busy. After I finish and publish this diary, I have some housework to do, and then I'm tackling my computer's new exterior hard drive which I expect will take the rest of the afternoon. When I either finish that or give up, I'll make dinner. Mark and I don't often watch movies in the evening, primarily because we're both too tired and I tend to fall asleep soon after the opening credits. We have a long list of things to watch, most of which I'm assuming everyone else has already seen and forgotten. If anything interesting emerges, I'll let you know.
Cooking and Groceries
It’s Saturday and so I want to make something special so I took a small boneless leg of lamb roast out of my freezer. This is the second of two of these nice little roasts that I had bought at Trader Joe’s; I cooked the other one about a month ago and I wish I had bought three of them since I’m not shopping at TJ's for the time being. The quality of this little roast is quite good and its size, at about two pounds, makes two meals for us.
I also wanted to cook this roast because I’ve got a small box of baby spinach in the refrigerator that is starting to wilt so to cook it before it spoils, I’m going to use it to stuff the roast. I will microwave the spinach leaves for about 90 seconds, let them cool enough so that I can wring them with my hands to remove any excess moisture, and then give it a quick chop. Then I will combine the spinach with a couple of grated garlic cloves and some diced feta cheese and use this to stuff the leg of lamb. Trader Joe’s butchered the meat to remove the bone and then they put it into one of those elastic web-like socks to hold it together, so I’ll cut that off, open up the lamb, fill the space where the bone was with the spinach/garlic/feta mixture, roll it back together to close it up and seal in the stuffing, and finally, tie it securely with some pieces of butcher’s twine. I’ll rub the entire tied lamb with a little olive oil and season it with salt and pepper and place it fat side up in a roasting pan. Before putting it in the oven, I will surround the roast with some peeled Yukon Gold potatoes cut into smallish pieces, which I’ll also season with evoo, salt and pepper.
Since the whole roast only weighs two pounds, I will cook it for about 20 minutes a pound, at 450° F for the first 15 minutes, then reducing the heat to 325° F for another 25 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 130° F for medium rare. Then it will rest for about 10 more minutes. If the potatoes aren’t yet tender, I’ll leave them in the roasting pan to continue cooking while the lamb rests.
To go with the lamb and potatoes, I’m also making a carrot salad which I’ve written about before: a bag of shredded carrots, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, minced parsley. That’s it. Its crispiness and bright flavor will be a nice partner to the lamb and potatoes.
Mark has put a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge. It’s good to look forward to Saturday night.
Stay safe and have a nice dinner.