pandemic shopping

During our stay-at-home order period, shopping for food and other necessities has been one of the few opportunities to be away from the house, unless one is an essential worker. Most households have one designated shopper and it is suggested that shopping occur only once every 1-2 weeks.

At our house, I am the designated shopper. I also shop for my dad, who lives in a nearby senior community. He gets some meals through their dining service, but prepares breakfast and most lunches on his own.

Ideally, I would do one, very large shopping trip every two weeks, but this has proved impossible. Our area still has supply problems that cause stores to be out of stock of certain items, for example, flour, yeast, peanut butter, meat, toilet paper, canned beans, rice, frozen vegetables. It’s not that you can’t find your favorite brand. It’s that these products can be totally missing. There are also often limits to the number of containers you can buy of a product, as well. Staples like bread, milk, pasta, and canned beans are most likely to have that kind of restriction.

Because of this, I usually shop weekly, but need to go to two or three stores to find what we need. I am also making sure to keep a two-week supply of food on hand in case we need to quarantine, so I need to have food for immediate consumption and to keep the pantry stocked without compromising our emergency provisions.

We are also trying to give business to our local restaurants that are open for curbside pick-up. We are afraid that some of the local businesses that closed may never re-open, although we were happy that our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, though closed for a few weeks, has now re-opened for carryout.

We have also been enjoying trips to our favorite ice cream stand, Sugar Lips, which makes their own hard ice cream and usually about ten vegan flavors. This is a special place for the lactose-intolerant people in my family. Sugar Lips usually attracts a lot of customers from the university, so we are hoping that the local folks can give them enough business to stay open until the students are able to return to campus.

Today, thanks to our region meeting the criteria for phase one re-opening, I was able to support one of my favorite shops in a nearby town to our west. They specialize in locally made products. I usually buy handmade soaps from them and I’m pleased that I was able to put in an order online. Bonus: they had some multipurpose headband/face masks for sale. Pickup from the store is by appointment. Maybe the next time, they will be able to be open for in-person browsing. I think that might be phase four, with facemasks and social distancing, of course.

Are you having shopping adventures in your area? Please share in the comments.

today’s changes

When I wrote about covid-19 over the weekend, I assumed that things would continue to change.

I was correct.

Today, I learned the following:

  1. While visitors are still allowed in Paco’s independent living apartment building, they are no longer allowed in public areas, including the dining room. This means that our usual Sunday morning breakfast together won’t be possible, unless we order ahead and Paco goes to pick it up from the dining room.
  2. My hopes that the panic buying for groceries, medications, and household goods was just for Friday and over the weekend were dashed. It took three stores today to find a short list of items that Paco or my household needed. None of it was hoarding or earth-shatteringly necessary, but it was so strange to still see entire categories of foods unavailable.
  3. Stores are adjusting to the circumstances as best they can. Wegmans, where I usually do most of my shopping, has instituted limits on certain items, hoping to keep staples available for as much of the day as they can. They are usually open 24 hours a day, but are now closing between midnight and 6 AM to allow for more extensive re-stocking. Even with that, there was almost no fresh meat this morning and there were signs up saying they wouldn’t be getting a shipment until tomorrow afternoon.
  4. People must rely a lot on peanut butter, because it is very hard to find.
  5. France is reporting that over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may worsen covid-19 symptoms. They recommend other fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen.
  6. Starting at 8 PM today, all restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will be open only for takeout and delivery. Also, the new definition of allowable gathering size is 50. This will effectively close lots of businesses and organizations.
  7. Many of the closures are scheduled until end of March or mid-April, but many of us assume they will go on longer.
  8. I had thought that the United States national government had the most haphazard response to covid-19, but it appears the United Kingdom is also in the running for this dubious distinction. Because my daughter and her family are in London, we often exchange news. The UK is not even using social distancing as a strategy for the population at large. It’s mind-boggling and scary. [Update:  Right after I published this post, my daughter sent me a link showing that someone finally got through to Boris Johnson that he needs to change his strategy for the UK.]

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

(I will try to make my next post be about something cheerier.)

SoCS: food!

It’s Saturday morning and I just now looked at Linda’s prompt. I was so excited that the prompt was “food”!  Maybe Linda is psychic, because it is exactly what I would like to write about today.

B and I are on a getaway for a few days and food was a very important part of the plan. On Thursday, we travelled to Deerfield, Massachusetts to stay at the Old Deerfield Inn. We had never stayed there before because it is pretty pricey, but we had discovered that on a weeknight in the off-season, it was affordable.

We had, however, eaten at their restaurant, Champney’s, before, and that was a big factor in deciding to go there. B had chicken piccata , which was a special that night, and I had a steak and ale pot pie, which was made with a local beer and local root vegetables. It was totally amazing. And very hot, because it came baked in its own little iron deep-dish. It took a long time to eat because it stayed very hot.

One of the reasons we love to eat at Champney’s ,though, is that they make an excellent Indian pudding. As people who read Top of JC’s Mind may recall, we have a thing for Indian pudding. It’s a tradition in B’s family and I have even written poetry about it!  (Poems here, here, and here with recipe here.) Being pretty full after our main course, B and I savored a serving of Indian pudding together. Amazing!

Like most inns, breakfast in the morning was part of the deal. I had fresh local yogurt with fruit and homemade granola and a half order of French toast with local maple syrup. B had French toast with scrambled eggs. Then, we ambled out for the day.

We were heading to Lenox and went via Northampton, where I attended Smith College. We had some lovely soup in Thorne’s market – potato leek for me and sausage lentil for B – but then moved on to the real place I want to eat – Herrell’s Ice Cream. Herrell’s was new to Northampton when I was at Smith in the late ’70s – early ’80s and makes astonishingly good ice cream, or, as New Englanders are wont to say, wicked good. I chose malted vanilla, which is one of my all-time favorites. I was afraid B, who is lactose intolerant, would have to settle for sorbet, but they had a couple of “no-moo” flavors, so B got to have peanut butter no-moo. Yum!

We proceeded to Lenox to stay at the Cornell Inn, where we have often stayed on getaways. We had made a dinner reservation at Alta, one of our favorite places in Lenox. B and I shared a salad that featured candied pecans and fried Brie and moved on to our main courses. I had trout, which was excellent. B thoroughly enjoyed pork cheeks braised in cider and served over squash and other seasonal vegetables. If it weren’t a Friday in Lent, I would have sampled it. He said it was great. We wondered if they were really pork cheeks, but I think they must have been as Alta is very particular about all of their menu items.

This morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Cornell Inn. Breakfast is a highlight of any trip here, as there is always a lovely variety of homemade options. Today’s selection included broccoli fritatta, berry crisp pancakes and cinnamon french toast, mixed berry and oatmeal blackberry muffins, and fruit plate with yogurt on the side. So good!

Now, I am writing this post, but, in a bit, we will check out and head up to Williamstown to stay with a high school friend. Her husband is a (mostly) retired chef, so more great food is on the agenda!

Hope I didn’t make anyone hungry. (I also offer apologies to all my vegetarian friends for rhapsodizing over meat-containing dishes.)
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week was “food”!  Yum!  Join us! Find out how here: 

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