Quarantined in the kitchen

Cheddar and chive beer bread by Marcia Pilgeram.

Reader Columnist

I’ve been hitting “Mimi’s mysteries” from my freezers pretty hard this week. It’s just me and my three-legged, insulin-dependent cat, Laurel, and we’ve both been grateful for all the foiled wrapped bits and pieces buried in my freezers. He needs lots of protein, and once I have unwrapped and thawed a small package that looks remotely like fish or meat, I sacrifice it for the kitty. I’m so thankful for my freezers and the stockpile of food I always have on hand. I have been able to cook and deliver some porch meals to friends who have been short on food or time or both.

I’m lucky for my good physical and mental health, and the projects I have to occupy my solitary self. I’ve been diligent about my isolation (for almost two weeks now) because I have been worried about Casey, my youngest daughter, who is pregnant in Chicago. She’s not due to have her baby for six weeks, but because her first delivery was not easy, I need a solid plan in place.

If she needs me, I will get in the car and drive, drive, drive to Chicago! I have all my essentials, packed and ready. Nonperishable foods, winter gear, mattress, office/electronics, sanitation supplies. I will sleep in safe spots, like friends’ driveways, or next to fire stations, as motels might be closed. 

I feel so much better having this plan in place. Whether it’s a necessary road trip, or your family’s next meal, it’s important to our mental, physical and spiritual well-being to have these plans in place. 

Lots of people are stressed and anxious about food right now. And even though the U.S. food supply is not in danger of being depleted, hoarders have made it difficult for us to forage the markets for simple ingredients, like flour, sugar, eggs and milk (not to mention all of the paper and cleaning products). 

In the past couple of weeks, I have been invited to join a couple Facebook groups focused on food and isolation time spent in the kitchen. We are all good for each other. Many members in one group are professional chefs and cookbook authors who are just as worried as the rest of us. I forgot that many of these new friends live in small apartments in cities, with no freezers at all. Trying to feed their families takes even more creativity and tenacious effort while planning and shopping for meals. 

One thing we all have in common is making sure we waste nothing. Members often post photos of foodstuffs, looking for recommendations of what can be created from practically nothing and then stretched into another meal. There are no rules: it’s time to be creative. I recommend a complete inventory of your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer(s). Organize them by expiration date and use them up accordingly. If dried or canned goods are expired, they are often good past the date. I give mine a taste test before I pitch them. Tired looking produce? Give it a good wash and pick off the dead or wilted parts. You can blanch most everything in the produce drawer and freeze it for soup or sauces.

Lots of folks (including me) had all the makings for a festive St. Patrick’s Day dinner that didn’t happen. Consequently, I have seen myriad pictures and recipes for those untouched briskets, corned beef coleslaw, corned beef potato cakes, pot-stickers and hand pies. For new starts of sourdough, we offer up recipes and suggest names (my submission was Jane Dough). 

I also had a stockpile of potatoes, and a couple days ago sliced one up for frying. When I reached to the back of my fridge for the omni-present bacon grease and discovered it was actually spun honey, it put me into a funk for the rest of the day. Talk about food insecurity. Ryanne is mailing me some today and my fingers are crossed that it actually arrives before a hungry critter catches wind of it along the way.

Many of us are turning to the kitchen for comfort, which is why the baking shelves are often depleted. Can’t find what you’re looking for? When it comes to baking, there are a plethora of substitutes out there, and I’ve included a link of the ones I find the most useful. 

There are many resources for getting your goods, too. Several of the local stores offer online shopping and pickup. I always thought of myself (shame on me) as too much of a food purist to let someone carelessly pick my produce. But this week, I placed my first ever order, through Walmart, and it was quick and painless and the produce was nearly perfect. They had everything I ordered except garlic and I was able to stay in my car the entire time, handing my credit card through a crack in the window. When I got home, I thoroughly washed and sanitized my cache.  

These are the current store hours, which, like everything else in our lives these days, are subject to change, so give them a call if you need an update:

•Davis Market in Hope  

Hours 8 a.m.-7 p.m. M-S (closed Sunday) 208-264-0539

•Miller’s Country Store 

Hours  8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., M-F (closed Sat and Sun) – Call in order and they will fill, no minimum and no fee. 208-263-9446

•Safeway 208-263-9638 

Hours 7 Days a week 6 a.m.-10 p.m. – Senior days are Tuesday and Thursday 6 a.m.-9 p.m. No online ordering.

•Super 1 Foods 208-255-2417

Hours 24 hours a day – No set Senior Hours – Online ordering, pickup service minimum $30. 

•Walmart  208-265-8332 

Hours 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. – Seniors Tuesday 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Online ordering, pickup service minimum $30.

•Winter Ridge 208-265-8135

Hours 7 Days a week 7 a.m.-8 p.m. – call in order, please limit to under 15 items fee is $5 per order

•Yokes   208-263-4613 

Hours 7 days a week – 6 a.m.- 8 p.m., Senior Day Wednesday 6 a.m.-9 a.m., Online ordering and pickup service, minimal service fee for orders under $50 

I won’t offer any recommendations about food safety because they are constantly updated, but here are some really useful links:




Please take good care of yourselves and your families. Be brave, eat well and stay home. Bake up a therapeutic batch of bread. I’m low on yeast, so I’m stirring up a batch of beer bread. No self-rising flour? No problem, just refer to this substitution chart:


If you have questions or need suggestions for recipes, I am happy to help you. Email me at [email protected]  – We’re all in this together, readers.



Cheddar and Chive Beer Bread Recipe:


This bread is delicious, warm from the oven, slathered in butter. It’s good grilled, too. You can add other savory ingredients to suit your taste and the type of beer you use will change up the taste, as well. Good served with soups and stews.



1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer 

3 cups self-rising flour 

3 tablespoons white sugar 

1 tbs minced, fresh chives

1 cup small, cubed Irish or 

     English cheddar

1/4 to 1/2 cup butter, melted



In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Stir in the chives and cheddar.  Batter will be sticky. Pour/pat into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan (or line with parchment paper). Drizzle melted butter over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides will be soft.

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