by Anouk Booneman
Cooking and shopping during a pandemic take on a very different meaning, and we all navigate that path in different ways. Some of you might still go to the store, others might use a delivery service or a combination of both. We probably all cook more though, and we are probably all doing more dishes as well. Personally, I haven’t been in a store since the quarantine started. We have been receiving a weekly delivery from the company Imperfect Foods. They sell “imperfect” produce, pantry items, dairy and meat for up to 30% less than at the grocery store. Their delivery has been impeccable until now. Mostly on time and their communication has been very effective. We have also been receiving orders through Thrive. Thrive is a membership-based market. They have had issues keeping up with their orders, due to an increase in memberships. That hasn’t been an issue for us. My cooking has become even more no recipe based. Any recipe that I read is a suggestion of where to start and substituting items has become my norm. My only (food) outing is my weekly trip to the Featherbed Lane farm: a year-round CSA. For those not familiar yet with the concept: A CSA (Community supported agriculture) is a model of farming that allows people to buy their food directly from a local farmer. A CSA share is the farm’s produce for which you make an advance payment. It’s a perfect way to support local farms and get fresh produce safely. Both seem more important than ever. At Spring into Health we have two favorites: the Featherbed Lane Farm and the Denison farm. Both have a different approach. The Featherbed Lane Farm is year round, and you pick up your produce (and eggs) at the farm. Their CSA is also free choice which means you get to choose the produce, and how much of it. To read more about the farm, click here for a Time Union article.
The Denison farm, our other favorite, operates according to a CSA model, but they also sell their produce in stores and at farmers market. Shareholders from the Denison Farm receive a weekly delivery of freshly harvested organic vegetables for about 22 weeks. The vegetables are already boxed, and there are several distribution sites to pick from (we are one of them). Egg and fruit shares are also available.
Besides the farm, Thrive, Imperfect foods and Amazon, we have ordered from small companies to try out new products or reorder. We particularly like the products from Atina Foods(herbal jams), Forward Roots NY (kimchisauce), les Collines (delicious jellies and jams ), Rancho Gordo (beans),Community grains (pasta, bread, polenta).
In the past few weeks I have done a lot more cooking than usual. I usually enjoy cooking, but at some point, the endless amount of prepping, ordering and the endless stream of dishes left me rather tired and frustrated. I missed going out, having someone else cook for me, pour me a drink, do the dishes, and I looked into take out, which we do rarely. Oh Corn! Arepas in Clifton Park, a Venezuelan restaurant, is a local favorite. They do curbside delivery or pick up. If you haven’t tried one yet, an arepa is a (gluten free) corn pocket sandwich that can be filled with infinite ingredients. I
Instead of ordering however, I ended up googling arepa recipes and instead of ordering food, I ordered the required flour to make my own arepas. Making arepas requires 30 minutes and only a few ingredients. Salt, water, oil for cooking and areparina or masarepa, a special precooked corn flour specifically for making arepas. You can’t substitute with another flour. I ordered the brand P.A.N. through Amazon. The flour can also be purchased at Oh Corn! Arepas. Goya has a flour as well. Arepas can be enjoyed plain or filled. I made two different versions. One filled with avocado, onions and black beans, and a version shaped like a doughnut, served with a very simple black bean soup. I posted two recipes. The first one is for arepas. I used the recipe on the back of the flour pack, but the Minimalist Baker has a very good recipe as well. Her recipe requires the arepas to be finished in the oven. I cooked them entirely in the skillet. Six minutes on each side. The second recipe is for a very simple black bean soup, that I also served with arepas.
Arepas (The minimalist baker)
Simple black bean soup
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 1½ cup black beans, cooked, rinsed, drained
• 1½ cup chickpeas, cooked, rinsed, drained
• ½ cup onion
• 3 garlic cloves
• 3 Tablespoons lime juice
• 1 jalapeño, seeded
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
• ¼ cup (35 g) red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced
Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the spices, the red bell pepper, garlic and sauté a little longer. Place broth, sautéed vegetables, beans and jalapeño pepper into a blender. If you have a Vitamix use the hot soups program to not only blend but also heat the soup. If your blender doesn’t have that option, just blend and heat after. I served this with a doughnut shaped Arepa.
Substitutions: If you don’t have chickpeas, use only black bean
Omit the bell pepper if not available
Use hot sauce if you don’t have a jalapeño.
Use lemon juice instead of the lime or a little bit of vinegar