My Pandemic Diary, Entry #48

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #48

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

It’s a gorgeous Sunday in New York City. Blue sky, lots of sun, a nice breeze and yesterday’s return to winter has been replaced again by spring. Mark and I took a great walk this morning, through the park and on city streets. We were early enough to miss any crowds but the park had a nice number of young families with strollers, as well as a large number of what appeared to be fathers taking toddlers out of the house to wear them down, maybe to give a Mother’s Day gift of some solitude to the moms at home.

On the way home we detoured to a hardware store. Mark needed to get a new light bulb for his desk lamp and graphite for a sticky window. It was one of those city stores that has some of its eclectic inventory always spilling onto the sidewalk. This one had racks of paper goods – plenty of Bounty paper towels, lots of toilet paper – and seen in its window there were shelves of bleach and signs offering masks and hand sanitizer. I guess any hoarders in this neighborhood are full up.

Yesterday was a momentous day because it seems (I’m being cautious for fear of jinxing things) that we have fixed my 5-year-old Mac 21-inch desktop computer. I say “we” but it was Mark who fixed it. What was headed to the recycling bin and deemed un-repairable by Apple is now reborn because Mark, in the spirit of “what do we have to lose,” opened up the Mac’s back, took out the broken drive and examined the specs printed on it, called Best Buy, matched it, ordered a new one for $50, and when it arrived yesterday, slipped it into where the broken one had been. And now it works perfectly! In fact, it’s better and faster than it’s been in ages. I don’t think I ever high-fived my husband before.

I then followed instructions at Apple’s website for formatting a new drive and installing an operating system and it is now fully loaded. This afternoon we will return all my apps and files which I had carefully copied onto an external drive before the old one died and I should be back in business. For those of you who have tolerated my stress-filled story about the day my computer died, I will tell you that the moment the familiar Apple home screen appeared was a triumph.

I would never have tried to do this myself, but I am fortunate that my wonderful husband, who is talented in many ways, also happens to have a degree in electrical engineering from M.I.T. so this wasn’t a foreign country for him, making the point that sometimes it’s even better to have an engineer in the family than a doctor. We’re hoping this will let us get another couple of years or so out of my Mac. At least we know it won’t have a premature retirement.

Cooking and Groceries

Yesterday most of our time and attention was spent on the computer, so it wasn’t much of a culinary day. Last night’s dinner was an easy pan-roasted salmon and a salad. I ended up over-cooking the salmon; it had been a piece of farmed organic fish which usually has more fat in it so I left it in the oven for a minute longer than usual which ended up being a mistake. It was okay, just not as moist as usual. I also used the rest of my rye bread croutons in the salad, forgetting that I had intended to use them in the stuffing for today’s roast chicken. Clearly I was distracted.

So late last night I assembled the dough for another loaf of bread which I’ll bake this afternoon and I’ll be able to use some of that to make the stuffing since I’m already committed to that chicken recipe.

The other thing I made yesterday was popcorn which we had as a little evening snack as we finished our wine after having our dinner in front of the television, which we rarely do. Usually the only times we eat in front of the TV is for live spectacles, like the Superbowl or political conventions. But we’ve been wanting to start watching a Netflix comedy series called “Call My Agent,” which is a French (with English subtitles) export and as promised to us by friends who had seen it, it is very funny. The humor is sophisticated and witty, the art direction is stylish and of course, very French, and there are many scenes shot on the streets of Paris and in cafés and restaurants. You don’t have to be a Francophile to love it but for those of us who are, it’s a tonic. Un tonique français.

Back to the popcorn. I make mine the old fashioned way. I buy organic popcorn and make it in a large pot to which I add 2 tablespoons of oil – either vegetable or olive oil (which can add a bit of flavor to the popped corn) – and 2 unpopped kernels. I place the pot, covered, over a medium high heat and when the kernels pop, I add ½ cup popcorn, recover the pot and reduce the heat to medium, and let it pop, giving the pan a shake now and then. I remove it from the heat when the kernels stop popping for about 20 or 30 seconds and spill all the popped corn into a big bowl. Sprinkle some salt on it if you like and add any toppings, although we usually have it plain. When we get to the end of the bowl we remind each other that we don’t have dental insurance and to leave the last few kernels alone.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough

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