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"I understand that my current siege mentality serves as evidence of an underlying emotional immaturity …"

Suppertime arrives even when living under a Stay-at-Home Order. We won't order out, though I've considered it twice and even resorted to take-out pizza when the ennui inertia overwhelmed me. Most days, I find that I can still face up to my responsibility to feed the household, though the larder's slipped somewhat sideways between the simple inconvenience now associated with restocking it and the curious unavailabilities attempting to restock it reveal. I wonder what it means when the veg store offers not a single potato for sale, but it seems to bode well for nobody. I find curious combinations of plenty, which cast strange shadows across the kitchen come suppertime. Accustomed combinations disappear, replaced with strange plate-fellows. Each suppertime has become a fresh WhatNow? engagement.

Before this siege began, I spent a couple of weeks crafting an array of stocks: turkey, veal, goose, chicken, and veg, so we, by fortunate accident, hold a surplus of this one irreplaceable component.
Last summer, The Muse insisted that we probably had a sufficient supply of home-canned tomatoes, so we skipped that ritual last year. I used the last jar of those babies Friday, with none to replace it until early September. Store-bought seems a genuine hardship, but I scored a few my last time through the supermarket. I've been using the home-canned components grown dusty on the larder shelves, sometimes surprising myself. That botched batch of high pectin apple jelly from 2018, over-processed into the consistency of jujubes, turns out to be a marvelous replacement sweetener in muffins and homemade granola, though it needs a minute meditating in the microwave before I can mitigate its removal from the jar. I'm finding unintended uses for several of our preserved treasures.

Beans, while suddenly widely unavailable, have proven a godsend to our Siegemeals. I can slow bake up a huge pot of them, perhaps with an over-sized ham hock thrown in, spooning individual portions into the double boiler to warm for breakfast, lunch, and even supper sometimes. A lead-lined siege palate improves the possibility for satisfaction when surviving on Siegemeals. More ornate suppers seem possible, too, as I discover uses for garlic gone wonky and wilted veg. I believe that I've come to braise overmuch, appreciating the slow, indifferent preparation. A half hour of furious chopping followed by a few minutes of intense browning, and I can leave the dutch oven bubbling in the back of a slow oven all afternoon to produce a low and slow meal with little clean-up.

The emergence of ImmacumateSuppers, ones producing no leftovers, has noticeably slowed during this period. Our Tupperware® inevitably overfloweth under this regime. I seem incapable of producing small plates, and not simply because entrees seem to come only in slightly larger than life sizes. That pound and a half fresh fish filet will leave a third of itself behind for next day lunch, but daily overages accumulate to result in a backlog of reusables, culminating in ever more curious combinations for following suppers. My last pot of beans successfully combined leftovers from three other meals to produce a "fresh" preparation which we'll consume over the following week or two. I add some chopped leftover baked potato to every bowl of rewarmed beans, further over-stretching.

Most troubling, I've grown bored with the usual presentations. The Muse usually insists upon a lean protein with two fresh veg for supper, but pasta's started slipping in, and rice, and even farro. Starches seem somehow necessary when under siege. Friday evening found me finally boiling off that long-unused bag of huge pasta shells, a gross violation of our usual dietary imperatives. Smothered in a fresh batch of Italian Gravy—a traditional refrigerator-clearing mishmash of that last jar of home-canned tomatoes and otherwise unusable past pull-date veg, and cubed leftover short rib with a whole leftover pork chop thrown in—then baked, those shells served two meals with even more leftover, including a half quart of excess gravy destined for some presently unknown future use. Each prepared meal seems to produce manna for some following supper, ad infinitum.

The Muse and I waited an hour yesterday morning at the baker's. We got a little of a late start since The Muse insisted upon no schedule that Saturday morning after spending the week under siege in her home office. I grabbed our number and returned to the car to report that we'd drawn G-88. They were then serving customer G-22. We had plenty to do, I guess. I stood along the back of The Schooner and chatted with the young masked woman leaning against the adjacent car. Our conversation leaned into sources of food, where to go to find whatever, though supply lines have been disrupted and we spoke mostly of history. I was delighted to see that the bakery's inventory had not been meaningfully depleted while we waited outside, and we bought more than we might have otherwise considered necessary or prudent. I'd decided to slice up one loaf and freeze the slices, since defrosted loaves of hard-crusted bread can become impossible to coherently slice. Two full loaves went directly into our siege freezer, which seems somehow fuller now than when the siege began. I understand that my current siege mentality serves as evidence of an underlying emotional immaturity, but I foresee producing SiegeMeals as far as I can see into the future from here.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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