A little over a month ago, before this whole pandemic thing really gained traction in the US, we were having issues with our youngest having unbelievable gas pain at night. So gnarly that he couldn’t sleep, and neither could we. We decided that much like his brother, he has some food allergies that he’ll hopefully grow out of but in the meantime, since he’s still mostly on the boob, I’d have to change my diet.
To be fair, I’m already pretty strict on foods just because I don’t like the way they make me feel. I’ve read so many books like The Whole 30 and Clean Cuisine and Eat 4 Your Type, and I’ve followed so many of the diets for a minimum of 30 days that I’ve figured out how to make a mesh of all the advice and find the thing that works best for me. Safe to say, I already eat super minimal: tons of fruit and vegetables, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, and animal protein only once a day.
With the littlest kid having gas though I also cut out soy. Helped but didn’t solve it. So I cut out eggs. Helped but didn’t solve it. So we decided I’d go down to a chicken and rice diet for a month, see if it helped, and then slowly start adding things in until we found the culprit (this is what we did for my first kiddo and it was a game changer). At any rate, we made this decision so I went out and bought the huge bag of Costco rice and a couple packs of the organic chicken thighs (because breast meat is dry and gross y’all) and came home eager to get my littlest sleeping again.
Fast forward three days and I was absolutely miserable. I was feeling headachey and body achey and totally miserable. It was too much protein and despite the fact that I was desperate for the calories, I couldn’t bring myself to eat one more bite of chicken. So we dropped it. I went back to eating my regular way, leaving eggs and soy out, and for whatever reason the baby went back to his normal anyway.
The point of all this is that before the pandemic hit we had an enormous bag of rice and a bunch of chicken thighs that no one was eager to eat. We don’t normally eat rice and don’t miss it. We’ll have it occasionally when we go out for Thai or Mexican but as a daily staple it’s not on our home menu. Now, however, we’ve been going through rice like crazy. We make at least a pot every other day. We have it with breakfast and lunch and dinner. And those chicken thighs are slowly getting cooked up and thrown into rotation.
We’ve been finding clever ways to use food that’s been sitting in the back of the freezer and the back of the cupboard (as long as it’s not expired) and it’s been kind of fun…exhausting but fun. I loathe cooking normally, but experimenting with new things has been interesting. One of the best parts has been learning that I can go to Google, type in the ingredients I have and “recipe” and search and all kinds of ideas pop up. Doing this reminded me that I also have lots of recipes in my head from growing up. Dishes that don’t have exact measurements or list of ingredients but are re-created each time by what’s on hand.
It’s as close to “fun” as cooking has ever been for me. And while I certainly don’t want to do this forever, it hasn’t been the worst part of the pandemic for me personally by any means. Plus it’s led me to find other fun things about food and cooking. One of my favorites is on Twitter, a woman named Kaitlyn McQuin @kaitlynmcquin posts every evening about what she’s having for dinner, but not in a here’s a gorgeous picture of the incredible seven course meal I made way. In fact, quite the opposite. Instead she describes what she’s eating for dinner using the most fabulous foodie words and then breaks down and tells you what she’s actually eating and it’s always something like Pop Tarts or Ritz Crackers with Cheeze Whiz. Absolutely hysterical and totally makes my evening every day.
I’ve also learned that my sister-in-law, perfect in every way like a real life Mary Poppins, is schooled in the way to use things before they go bad. This to me is not only a necessary skill but a skill which I don’t possess and have no idea how to garner. For instance, my mom got a ton of eggs all at once from us because we had stopped eating them. Rather than have any go bad, my SIL figured out a way to make what she wanted to make with them and then freeze that thing so that it can be used down the line. I don’t know what she did but it was much cooler than the advice I’ve read about scrambling the eggs and then freezing them to be re-used as actual scrambled eggs later (cause that sounds gross, although I’ve never tried it so I don’t know).
At any rate, this is the sort of thing that makes me go: yes! I want to know that too! But how do you even go about learning that sort of thing? I suppose a Google search would get me somewhere and then revising that search until I hit the nail on the head. It’s just so odd to have to search for something you want to know but you don’t even know what to call it so how do you search for it?
I miss my librarians.
~~~That’s one hour~~~