And while these preventative measures were imposed out of concern for public welfare, one cannot deny that in its accompaniment is a string of new issues - a hair-pulling situation of inefficiency.
- Beyond the significantly reduced store hours (seven-day operations have now ceased to five days or less), restrictions on entry are also being imposed. Whether it be reducing access and egress routes from four to one or maintaining the mandatory 2-metre/6-feet "safe distance" between patrons, one cannot deny that efficiency has now plummeted. So, while many of us have a bit more time on hand, the sheer acts of grocery shopping and regular errand running have also been lengthened, trifold I'd say.
- Grocery trips are a gamble nowadays. To enforce physical distancing, majority of retailers have limited entry to one member per family, posing difficulty to those that struggle with lifting large quantities across an asphalt lot. At the brighter end of the spectrum, parking lots are not as scarce as they once were in certain plazas.
- Supplies are at an all-time low. Obtaining all necessary grocery items from one spot was previously the norm; on the other hand, it's been two weeks since I've seen a single bag of bread flour grace the shelves of Loblaws or Walmart. Needless to say, bread flour is even rarer to come by. This obstacle has been a persisting block on my road to recipe analysis.
- On a related note, grocery items are now being replenished more frequently than before. The higher the inhabitant count of a household, the faster the depletion of sustenance, which transform into the consequential need for more frequent cooking. I'm not one to complain about being provided opportunities to exert creativity, though it does gradually pose some degree of frustration knowing that every step outside entails PPE and post-trip deep sanitization.
- Some versatile pantry staples to consider would include: cornstarch, coconut milk, canned beans, canned sardines/sausages/corned beef (not the most nutritious but better than going vegan), dried herb seasoning, and honey. Meanwhile, eggs, milk, flour have the capability of forming the foundation for virtually any dish; while perishable, it never hurts to have a healthy dose on hand to supplement recipes or help them along their way.
With challenge comes change, and what doesn't kill us will only make us stronger.
Throughout the course of the week, the following items have emerged:
- More Dalgona coffee - some with matcha, some served hot, and some succumbing to an eruptive fate of post-whipping oxidization
- Variations of the classic Matcha Latte, including Matcha Soy and PB Ovaltine Matcha
- An incredibly moist attempt at Cooking Tree's Cotton Cheesecake
- Just about The Best Banana Bread Ever (though, Smitten Kitchen happened to post her supposedly "Ultimate" rendition a day after...)
- Making use of leftover ingredients for a dinner of cardboard-like Cauliflower Fusilli topped with a Teriyaki Sauce-Coconut Milk blend. (Please, spare yourself and don't commit to this silly Costco mistake.)
- Steamed Baos with White Sesame Filling - formula adapted from an unfamiliar source and very much a WIP.
Just as promised, the top was crunchy, irresistibly so, while the internal compartment was supple.
I had folded in the flour fearfully, for there is a delicate boundary between removal of flour pockets and gummy, overmixed batter. Observing the texture while transferring though, I heaved a sigh of relief, assured that the loaf would make it through after all. It yielded a cross-section of a moist crumb encased withing an unthinkably crunchy perimeter. Enrollment in SKU (Smitten Kitchen University) had been a swell call.