I am still learning about life at my relatively advanced age, and I have learned more about food in the last three years than I had in most of my life prior.
My lesson today was this: there are meals with memorable food; there are meals with memorable company; and there are those rare and precious occasions when both come together. Today was one of the latter. Those occasions are rare, and are exactly the times when one should go off-plan.
Three veterans of China technology public relations sitting around a table in California and reflecting with gratitude and humility on the amazing era of change that we lived through was every bit as fulfilling as the remarkable dishes we enjoyed. Thank you, Yuling, for giving Sunny and I an excuse to come into town!
Working during the Pandemic had a few upsides, one of which was that I could justify ordering groceries online and having them delivered. The tips, the service charges, and the higher prices could be justified by the extra layer of safety offered by shoppers and contactless delivery.
We may not yet be post-pandemic quite yet, but I am certainly post-career, and that means masking up and going back to shopping the old-fashioned way. I’m hitting one grocery stop per week, reading the store circulars coming in the mail, learning where to get the best deals, and buying in slightly larger quantities. At some point, we will probably add a freezer to take advantage of sales and overstock.
As much as I enjoyed groceries on my front doorstep, there is a deeper satisfaction in going out and picking out my own food and finding the better deals.
In the months ahead, more bulk buying, coupon clipping, and leftovers.
As I take my first, timid steps into the land of cooking, step one is the oven. Duly inspired by a sanity-inducing binge of The Great British Bake-Off, I am beginning with bakes.
With Sunny serving as my teacher, we began to tackle a bucket-list item: how to make really good – and Kosher – biscuits and gravy. Biscuits first. We grabbed a recipe for vegan biscuits off the Internet and began mixing. What we wound up with was a mixture that was a just bit too thin and runny to roll and cut, so we improvised: we spooned mix into a muffin pan, popped the pan into the oven, and hoped for the best.
The results were a delight, so good that we forgot about the gravy as the three of us dove in. We tried them with vegan butter, with Walden Farms jam, and with Morningstar sausage.
Come Fall, we will experiment with chicken miscuits, and figure out two kinds of gravy, one meat and one vegan. Meantime, cardio!
There are few problems finding a great burrito, an excellent burger, or a decent pizza in LA: just ask a local and they’ll point you in the right direction. Good savory pies, though, are another matter.
I bought this mug to remind myself that the nearest veggie pie is just a few blocks from Vroman’s bookstore – or the DTLA Arts district.