Monday, April 20 2020

grocery shopping, yeast, and go-bags

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Welcome to the work week. I hope you are feeling energized and ready to attack another Monday through Friday with me. And if you're not feeling energized yet, that's OK too. Between you and me, I spent too much time this weekend drinking beer and eating Marissa's peanut butter cookies. So I'm landing on the lethargic side of the spectrum this morning. But you know what they say - fake it 'til you make it.

Sip. We had a great day yesterday. Sunday has turned into grocery day, so after getting Rodney out of bed, finishing my writing, and getting my fill of coffee, I suited up and headed for Hy-Vee. In a continuing effort to pin down exactly what's been bumming me out about quarantine shopping, I decided to spring for some foods that I'd look forward to eating, grabbing some pancietta, fancy cheeses, a few extra fresh vegetables, and a new wave of lekker quick breakfast snacks. I also picked up a few more frozen chickens, as those seemed to work out pretty well last time.

"Do you really want to make stock again? It seemed like a lot of work last time?" asked Marissa while helping me put together the list.

"It actually wasn't too bad," I replied. "I think I was just hanging around the stock pot because it was my first time making it, and I was curious how it would turn out. And cutting up whole chickens is a lot of fun - I'd like to get good at that."

The rest of the grocery trip went well enough. Here's a summary of the victories and upsets:

After returning from the store, Marissa and I unpacked the groceries while Rodney excitedly walked around inspecting our new stock. As we continued to put things away, Rodney pulled his step ladder over to the pantry and began setting up an imaginary store just in time for us to make lunch.

"Well hello, sir. I'd like to buy this can of grapefruit," said Marissa.

"OK, you got it! Coming right up!" replied Rodney, sitting there in silence, unsure what to do. Marissa took the initiative.

"I have 10 dollars here, will that be enough?" she asked.

"TEN DOLLARS?" squawked Rodney. "OH YES. Coming right up."

We ate lunch on the back porch. It was a true hot mess of a meal fitting for the hectic quarantine grocery day - a stack of sour cream & onion Pringles, a bag of paw patrol fruits, and a giant cheesy omelet made with five eggs that were face to face with their expiration date. I doused my share of the omelet copiously with hot sauce. After lunch, we spent some time outside, letting Rodney burn some energy while Marissa and I installed some new fencing to keep rabbits out of our yard.

We put Rodney in his room for naptime, and after brewing another pot of coffee Marissa and I settled in for church. Ziggy crawled into my lap and turned into an atom bomb of warm puppy coziness, and I had to fight the urge to fall asleep.

Naps and YouTube carried us into evening, and soon I was in the kitchen with Rodney prepping our fajitas. Rodney ran around outside chasing a balloon, and in a test of patience I had to step away from a sizzling steak on a smoking, roaring stove to retrieve his balloon from the other side of the fence. But I take pride in being able to cook while entertaining Rodney, and what he doesn't completely ruin with his kitchen antics only makes us stronger.

In between making our usual fajitas, I rolled another in-progress batch of bread onto the table. This was the batch that Marissa and I measured and mixed meticulously, reading right off the YouTube video. But the dough ball hadn't transformed into the magical puffy & sticky web we expected. It remained a chilly, dense sludge that unenthusiastically rolled out of the bowl the same way I roll out of bed on Monday mornings.

"I don't understand," I said to Marissa. "All these videos we're watching say that you need to slow down yeast in the fridge to make it taste better, but it's not working."

"Yeah, and now I'm upset. We made this one together. We were very careful, and we even measured everything," she replied.

"I think our fridge just kills the yeast. Maybe that crap only works in France or California. I bet out here you can't be so tough on yeast," I answered. "No more fridge. We've only had success on the counter at room temperature, so let's just stick with that."

Just for kicks, I baked the bread dough anyway. The failed batter used it's proofing time to dry out, spread out, and take on the shape of a teenage mutant ninja turtles villian. The puddles of dough hardened into what looked like two dried, cracked bongo drums. Rodney and I broke open the bread together to inspect the dough. It was heavy and cakey. I formed the dough into a tight ball and threw it into the dining room like a bouncy ball, and Rodney ran after it with delight.

We set aside the rest of the evening to pack Rodney's go-bag. Things are getting real now, and as I packed a few change of clothes for Rodney to wear during his stay at my coworker's place, I thought more about having a baby.

"It's going to be fascinating watching Rodney deal with all of this," I said. "Even just like... how do you think he's going to handle having to watch all his old TV shows again?"

"Remember the phase where he just wanted to watch Sing on repeat? That was brutal," laughed Marissa.

"Oh God, and Paw Patrol. We were stuck on Paw Patrol for so long, I think he might get sick of it this time around," I laughed.

I have faith in Rodney. He seems primed for the new phase of life. And for the last few months, he's insisted we refer to him as "Big Brother Rodney", like an official title. I think he's excited too.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Monday.