by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
I never planned to be in isolation. I figured my wife and daughter might, but me? What a surprise!
Now, what’s a restaurant reviewer supposed to do when he can’t go to restaurants because he’s supposed to avoid going out, which means he’s stuck at home, trying to put together meals from what he has on hand in the house?
Of course! Review his own cooking!
Out of my cupboard, pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and the kindness of a local market’s early-senior-shopping hour, with the help of my similarly-confined wife and daughter (OK, my daughter is actually working from home, but she has asthma), here comes the cuisine of…Casa de Mc Arthur!Hazelnutted Waffles with Bananas—What a morning treat! (Eggo Waffles and Nutella from Costco in Clovis, bananas from Wal-Mart in Sanger). After diving into the freezer for the waffles, and raiding my daughter’s Nutella stash, I found a not-quite-spoiled banana, and…Yum! The bananas over that chocolate-hazelnut spread, soft and gentle, with the crisp, toasted, crunchy waffle base, made me smile, even knowing I wouldn’t be allowed to go to work. Chicken-Mac and Cheese—Comfort food is truly comforting when you’re in isolation (Macaroni from our home food storage, bulk cheese sauce powder from Winco in Clovis—before the Costco moved—along with cooked chicken—the meat from the rotisserie chickens they don’t sell, so they debone it, package it, and sell it—from Costco, with a sprinkling of fiesta-blend cheese from Sanger’s Wal-Mart). My daughter and I collaborated on this; I do the grunt work like shredding the chicken and stirring the pot of macaroni so it doesn’t clump or scorch. We get the pasta nice and soft, since the ladies of the household aren’t as fond of al dente as I am. The chicken adds flavor, and we’ve grown quite fond of the Mexican-style cheese blend over the years. Of course, the flavor matures the next day, so the leftovers taste even better. Eggos with Real Egg-Oh!—A multi-tasking breakfast! What a delight! (Eggs from the early senior hour of the State Foods Market in Sanger, and more of the Costco waffles) I have an Egg-Tastic, a ceramic (and vaguely egg-shaped) egg-cooker that is handy and easy. Crack a few eggs into it, season, and add any ingredients you desire; give it a whirl in the microwave. Meanwhile, throw some waffles into the toaster. Pop the egg (I cooked two at a time, and I divided them to serve two. I wouldn’t deny my wife her share of what turned out to be a fluffy treat, right?) on top of the waffle, and that’s a good start for your day! Fish Stick Surprise—I don’t eat many lunches, but I try to make sure that my Type-2 diabetic wife is fed (Panko-coated fish sticks from the Clovis Costco, and tartar sauce from the Sanger Wal-Mart). This was quick, and it kept her going. Ninety seconds in the microwave, and a great-tasting tartar sauce that was oddly stocked in a shelf on the side of a freezer case, nowhere near the frozen fish.
Nuggets a l’Orange—A nice meal that made the family happy. (Costco panko-coated chicken nuggets, potato pearls from our food storage, and oranges from the tree in our back yard) Our home storage provided the easy-to-prepare mashed potatoes, and the nuggets came from the freezer. For some reason, we had not harvested the oranges growing in our back yard. I was not sure about how they would taste, but they were SWEE-EET!Wacky Snacky—(Wheat Thins from Costco and reserved cheese sauce mixed for the Chicken-Mac and Cheese) when we were making the Chicken-Mac and Cheese, my daughter and I set aside a container of the cheese sauce for late-night snacking. Smart thinking! Presto Pesto!—(Leftover rice from Uncle George Kabab in Sanger, mozzarella, chicken, and pesto sauce from Costco) I usually make a snack or something meal-ish with pesto sauce on Indian naan bread with a broken-up hunk of mozzarella cheese. I had some rice pilaf left from a dinner at my favorite place to eat in Sanger, Uncle George Kabab. I threw in some of the Costco chicken and mozzarella, scooped on some pesto, let the microwaves dance all over it, and it was good! Nuke-A-Tater—(Microwave-baked potato with chicken, cheese, onion greens, fiesta cheese blend, and bacon bits) I’ve been microwave-baking potatoes for decades. I even had a recipe for “To Nuke a Potato” in a mini-cookbook/memoir I wrote, Only One Person Ever Liked My Cooking…And She Died.” I’ll toss anything I find available in as toppings—there was an onion starting to sprout in the kitchen, so I finely sliced the greens for a garnish.
One thing I didn’t use, this time. While working at a diabetes summer camp in the 90s, I couldn’t get sour cream for my baked potato, so I used ranch dressing, and I’ve been using that substitution since then.
Here’s the thing: I may not have a year’s supply of food storage, but I’m doing all right. You use what you have, and you figure out how to adapt recipes. Thankfully, some restaurants and food places have converted to take-out, pick-up, or delivery systems. Keep eating…and stay strong!