The Quarantine Diaries – Day 50

I think the combination of two straight days of cooking and a 10,000 step walk exhausted Monday Michelle so thoroughly she decided to take a nap and not show up today. There was one small flare-up, but besides that I was pretty damn chill, if not a little scatterbrained. I wasn’t able to focus through both of my meditations, I cut out halfway through both of them. Thankfully, no one attempted a loving kindness meditation. That would have woke Monday Michelle up even if she was dead. I did manage to do my yoga practice and it was minimally emotional. We did a chest-opener at the end of the practice and it was glorious. We were instructed to put two pillows on our mats (I only had one) and lay on them. Once all the maneuvering was done, I was on my back with my butt on the floor and my back on the pillow. We were then told to spread our arms out. It was like cracking open my chest and offering my heart up to the sky. I am usually more of an inversion or twist person, but this pose really spoke to me. I think that had I been in a more vulnerable mindset, I would have cried. As it was, I just felt beautifully open.

But I am sure you’re more interested in my casually dropped “two straight days of cooking” than me exposing my heart to whatever poor deity lives in the sky. No worries, that’s next.

Every now and then, about once a month, I set aside a whole weekend for me to make a big recipe. This all started when my grandmother taught me how to make spring rolls. She learned to make them when she was living in Taiwan and brought the recipe home with her. From there I spent a day making Chinese dumplings with a friend and her family when I first came to live in NYC. Somewhere around or between then I cobbled together a recipe for Chicken Riggies by combining a couple recipes I found online. Then I started dating Brazilian Helicopter Pilot and decided to try to make one of his favorite foods – coxinha. Once again I mashed up a couple of recipes and gave it a shot. The first attempt was passable, but once I forced BHP to give me actual constructive feedback we improved it to the point where I felt comfortable considering it complete and moved on to pierogi.

Pierogi was insane. I think I combined four or five recipes and talked to three different Polish Americans to make sure I had it right. I would say I got most of it right, but there is definitely room for tweaking and improving. Unfortunately, I had to put that recipe on hold because BHP and I are still working our way through all the pierogi in our freezer.

SO! I decided it was time to try to make pastel (plural = pastéis). Pastel are like Spanish empanada, except they are more flaky/crispy and less bready. I had looked at a bunch of recipes and decided I wanted to make four fillings, proof that I am truly incapable of learning. I made four fillings with the pierogi and my friend who helped me put them together nearly disowned me. But! I am in quarantine, it’s not like I have anything better to do than slave away over a hot stove.

Saturday was spent making the four fillings – queijo, carne, frango, and palmito. Thankfully, one of them was essentially pre-made because it was just cheese (queijo). The other three fillings were not so simple – carne (ground beef), frango (chicken), and palmito (heart of palm). Making them took about five hours. I started at about 9:15 a.m. and knocked off around 2:15 p.m. Yes, I took a nap when it was all done. Fuck no, did I cook dinner that night. BHP ordered Thai food (it was contactless), prepared a foot soak for me, and then he massaged my feet and painted my toenails.

Sunday was making the dough and putting together the pastéis. That took another seven hours. I made the first batch of dough at 11:00 a.m. and we sat down to eat the first batch of pastéis at 6:15 p.m. All-in-all, I made 89 pastéis. Don’t think it was all sunshine and happiness, there was one moment where I almost had a complete breakdown. I was finished with all the prep and it was time to cook. I was frying the eight we were going to have for dinner and all the pastéis started to pop and leak their fillings into the oil. They survived and made it into our bellies, but they were not pretty and the dough was pretty tough. BHP like them and only had a couple notes for the carne and the frango. I am going to type up the recipe in the next few days and not worry about it until I get a craving for them again in a few months. Until then, I have 81 more of them in the freezer.

A plate of cooked pastéis on a plate between two drinks.
The finished product and my pretty toes!

To continue on the food theme… order to stop me from baking every day and gorging myself on cookie dough and brownies, BHP and I decided that we would only get one treat a week. We get the treat on Fridays and alternate who picks it. Last week I picked ice cream and this week BHP selected Abuelita’s hot chocolate (made by Nestle) with rum and Kahlua in it. Well, I started thinking about what I want next week and I got wicked excited. I wanted to make pudim de leite condensado a.k.a. flan. I did a quick search and realized I would need an angel cake pan. I placed the order with William Sonoma and then lit the bat signal. BHP’s mom replied swiftly. Angel food pan procured and pudim recipe acquired, I will be BAKING on Thursday. Fucking finally.

But in case you are worried that my whole weekend was just cooking, don’t. Friday night, while getting buzzed on hot chocolate, I had to watch Anakin Skywalker creep on Padmé so hard it made me wail and cringe. It’s a good thing that BHP is a total Star Wars fan *cough*nerd*cough* because that meant he didn’t mind me pausing the movie every five minutes to gnash my teeth or ask way too specific questions. Look, I am not a die hard Star Wars fan. I will not fight you over who shot first, but hot-fucking-damn the prequels were a steaming pile of shit that was heaved into a dumpster fire. I am absolutely dreading watching Episode III. I have avoided watching it for fifteen years, but because I love this man, I am going to watch two plus hours of howling man pain and unnecessary melodrama. At least I know the music will be good.

We need to watch that one on a night I can drink.


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