Tag Archives: baking

Saturday coffee thoughts: isolation life and combating loneliness

It’s a chilly and cloudy Saturday morning here in Alberta and I think we might see some rain today. I’ve got the windows open to let some fresh air in and it definitely feels like fall. They’re calling for frost this week and I’m so not ready for that. The huge tree outside my window is shedding leaves like crazy – and we’re only a couple of weeks into the sesaon.

Time is moving so quickly – it’s already mid September. The kids are all back in school. The “littles” in our family who are the same age, seventeen, are in their senior year of high school. We’re hoping the schools don’t shut down again for their last year. My nephew who started college this week has to take classes from home. I feel terrible for him. Life is once again on hold as we’re in another restrictive period. I’m not going to call it a lockdown but it is what it is.

Yesterday, I made the best Italian meatball casserole. It was so filling and satisfying. I’ll share the recipe in a separate post today. I have plenty of leftovers and am looking forward to dinner.

I’ve got my breakfast which is toast and plant based peanut butter. Remind me not to buy this again. I just spilled oil ALL over my counter. Everything is greasy even with a wipe down. I have my morning coffee and it tastes so good.

And with that, I have a lot of thoughts to share today.

Meal planning

My slow cooker is all set up and I’m looking forward to make something this weekend. But what? I’m not sure. I was hoping to pick up a pork roast yesterday with my groceries but the price of meat is so expensive right now. I used to pay $13 for a pork loin roast. Now the price has gone up to $16 or $21. I nearly cried. Even beef stewing cubes have gone up to over $15. It’s not right. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to afford to eat healthy foods. I like my meat. But for now, I’m stocked up on things like basa fillets, imitation crab, canned tuna and lots of beans. Luckily, chicken is still reasonable and I have some thighs I can roast up later this week.

I’ve been browsing Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration in my fall cooking and am trying out new recipes. I’m going to have to place another grocery order though. I spent $130 on food on Thursday with my order. But many of the items I wanted, like the pork roast, were not in stock. So, I’m going to have to order from Superstore, which has the most reasonable of prices for meat.

I always keep lots of soup, beans, dried foods like pasta and grains on hand at all times. My pantry is stocked up with baking essentials, oats, and healthy snacks too. I like to keep a couple of month’s supply on hand at all times. I’m not a prepper. But… with food shortages and labour shortages due to the pandemic, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I think some preppers are insane for how much they buy at one time. While those with a large family, I understand the reasoning. It’s just me here. So I don’t need nearly as much. I could feed a couple of people for about a month or two with my current stock. It’s usually just fresh produce that I need to replace every week. And toilet paper. That shit is expensive too.

Art projects

I went through my Etsy store yesterday and am trying to revive it. I got motivated after a couple of sales this month. I sent a digital journal to my niece for her birthday and she loved it. So, I’m going to get back into making those. I’m also aiming for at least one art piece each day. I really want to learn to paint watercolor flowers but I’m terrible at it. Abstract is definitely more my style.


My mic stand arrived yesterday and it’s all set up. I also ordered a filter to help create a better sound for tutorial videos. I need to come up with some kind of lesson plan to record these in an order that makes sense. I’ll be focusing on Etsy tutorials, graphic design tips, music production and software reviews. I’ll have two channels for this though. My music channel is pretty much dead. Though the TikTok account continues to grow slowly. I think that’s the place to advertise songs. Honestly, it’s so hard to get noticed in any genre these days. Over saturated markets in all areas make it hard to stand out.

But… this is what I love to do and what I’m good at. For now, it’s a hobby but one day I hope I can make a career out of it. Plus creating the thumbnails and artwork is just so fun for me.

Health and fitness

I went for my xrays on Thursday and got my second COVID shot on the same day. I felt fine the next day. My arm is still store and there’s a large red bump near the injection site. Apparently, this is a rare side of the Pfizer vaccine. It felt like someone had punched me in the arm.

The reason I put it off for so long was exactly this. My body does weird things and processes vaccines differently. I don’t get the flu shot because it always gives me an allergic reaction. Even an iron infusion caused some swelling in my hands. And I’ve had bad reactions to blood thinners too.

But so far, I’m okay. And I now I don’t have to worry about going anywhere with the new isolation rules. Basically, if you don’t have both shots past October, you can’t get in anywhere.

I’m not here to argue it. I’m not anti anything. I just worried about my own personal health and safety as I know my history with vaccines.

My fitness challenge is still going strong. I’m still monitoring foods each day, and I’ve started working out again. The pool is still closed and the gym — I don’t even know if we can work out in public. You can outdoors though.

Isolation life…and how I cope with loneliness

We’re in isolation again and I’m not sure how long this will be for. COVID cases are skyrocketing again. The new rules are murky. I’m allowed to have two contacts because I live alone. So, for now, that’s my bestie — and probably my dad. For now we can still see him. I hope that doesn’t change. He won’t survive another lockdown.

I visited him on Thursday and helped him with his dinner. He fades out more and more. Mostly we just sit together and I hold his hand. He’s quiet, so I do most of the talking. Or we watch whatever is on tv. Helping him with his food is something to keep my hands busy. I tucked him into his chair for a nap as he was ready to fall asleep. I fear his end is coming soon. If we go into full lockdown again, I’ll be devastated. My heart already hurts when I see him.

As a single person, a life in solitude can be lonely at times. I’m not overly social but I have my small group of friends I like to see for coffee or lunch dates. This isolation period means not being able to have everyone over for dinner like I had been planning and that hurts.

So, in an effort to keep sane, and busy, I’m going to work on this blog, my art projects, my Etsy store – maybe another music album. And I’m also working on organizing my home.

To help combat the loneliness, I chat with family via text every couple of days. I get my daily exercise. I’m keeping a regular sleep schedule. I’m showering every two days. I’m trying to keep things as “normal” as possible.

That’s life in a nutshell. Stay safe friends. Wherever you are.

How do you keep busy during isolation periods?

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Christmas Cravings – I made eggnog, for the first time from scratch! And it was delicious

Once my Christmas tree went up a couple of weeks ago, the cravings for Christmas treats started to hit me hard. I think it’s a combination of winter being thrust upon us, and being stuck at home in isolation as I wrote about this morning.

Eggnog has been on top of my shopping list for weeks but to no avail. None of the stores have it in stock at the moment. To my extreme dismay.

For the past week or so, I’ve been binge watching cooking videos on Youtube on how to make your own eggnog. And for once – I had all the ingredients on hand. Except for one – nutmeg which is a huge part of eggnog. I decided to get creative and tried cinnamon instead.

This was a LOT of work for one person – and it better be worth it. I’ll be extremely disappointed if the recipe doesn’t pan out.

First step was heating up some cream and milk. I used 2 cups of 1% milk (it’s easier on my stomach) and 1 1/2 cups of half n half cream. I let this heat up in a large pot on the stove top on medium low heat. All of the videos I watched told me not to let it boil or simmer. And to whisk often or constantly.

In addition to the milk and cream, I added in the about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and about the same of vanilla extract. If you have vanilla bean or vanilla paste – I’m told that works just as well.

Next came the hard part – and one I was not looking forward to. Separating egg yolks. I had never done this before mostly because the mess it makes. But I was determined to make eggnog today no matter what to help snap out of this funk I’ve been in. The first egg didn’t work out so well. But by the fourth egg – I was a pro. I used 6 eggs in total – or 5 1/2 if you don’t count the one yolk that got away.

This next part – I think I messed up and added sugar too early. I used my metal whisker to whisk the eggs until they turned a light fluffy colour. I added in about 1/3 cup of sugar slowly while doing this. I couldn’t get the eggs as creamy or fluffy as they looked in videos and I think it’s because I used 1% milk. Whole milk, I’m told, works better for eggnog.

The next step was tricky for my left-handed self. You have to find time to whisk the milk mixture while mixing the eggs with your other hand. Then you take a soup ladel and drop in one scoop of the milk into the egg yolk mixture. And you have to whisk constantly while doing this step. It was very difficult to take a picture and the one photo I did get – came out blurry.

I mixed the egg yolk mixture until it was as creamy as I could get it – kind of like a thin custard – and then I poured it into the milk mixture. That’s where the real whisking begins.

I was paranoid about burning the milk but it wasn’t heating up fast enough for me and twenty minutes had already gone by. So, I turned up the heat and got out my $10 thermometer and waited impatiently for the heat to rise to 175F. That was good enough for me – to make sure the eggs were cooked enough.

I gave the mixture a good stir, turned off the heat and covered the pot with a lid to let it cool down.

Oh – I forgot to mention – I may have added a splash of rum or two early on into the milk and cream. Because why not? Most eggnog recipes call for rum, bourbon or scotch. Choose your pleasure, as long as it’s a dark or spicy. I chose my go to – Captain Morgan’s spiced rum which I’m almost out of.

Next came the hard part. You’re supposed to mix the egg whites in a separate bowl with a handmixer until you get a nice “peak” or until the egg white stiffens. But this did not happen for me. I mixed for a good 15 minutes. I even switched to a hand whisk for an additional five minutes. I tried adding cream. I tried sugar. Nothing. I eventually covered the egg whites with plastic and it is stored in my fridge. Maybe it will harden on its own – or maybe I can find some other use for it.

I’m now waiting patiently for the eggnog to chill enough so that I can have it for my after dinner drink. I’ve been craving it for so long but I never thought to make my own eggnog.

I’m not going to share the recipe since there are so many ways to make this wonderful drink that really should be available all year round.

Instead, I’ll share one of my favorite videos so you can see just one of many ways it’s made.

What’s your favorite drink this time of year? Let me know in the comments!

Now I’m going back to see what I did wrong with the egg whites. I’ll follow up with pictures later!

Searching for the perfect blueberry scone recipe

Here we are at Monday morning again. The weekend flew by!

Yesterday was a quiet day. It was so cold outside and inside my condo. This morning – it’s PLUS SIX degrees. I refuse to turn my heat on based on principle.

My diet was terrible this weekend. I felt tired and didn’t have much energy yesterday as my insomnia has been bad. But I forced myself to go to bed last night at 11:30 and managed to get up before 9:00 am today. I need to do this for the next two weeks before going back to work.

I had planned on doing some baking yesterday to heat up the place. Having the oven on always helps. I didn’t make dinner until almost 8:00 pm which killed my fasting plan. But I heated up some frozen fish sticks, yam fries (mostly healthy) and boiled some veggies in the rice cooker. Now that part was delicious.

I have to use up all the veggies in my fridge in the next few days – so I’m guessing it will be another homemade soup kind of day. Or a vegetable casserole. I have a mix for scones that I want to get done today. So, I’m on youtube looking for great recipes.

I have TWO pounds of blueberries I need to use. I froze an entire container on the weekend. So, I might make some banana blueberry bread tonight too.

I love Jamie Oliver’s cooking tips. Here’s one for his scones recipe.

Anna Olson also has some great tutorial videos on her channel. She explains things so clearly – and talk about a dream kitchen. Although it’s probably a studio! When I move in the spring, the most important thing will be a gorgeous kitchen with plenty of storage.

I also like Chef Billy Parisi – he comes up with some pretty innovative dishes if you can look past his “hipster”? language – he’s also got a dream kitchen I’d love to get my hands in.

I was also thinking that I need to get a bigger freezer. I love batch cooking and freezing meals but my tiny freezer is packed already with ice for drinks and frozen vegetables. I can’t stock up like I really want to. So, I’m shopping for an affordable compact apartment size freezer that I can use for my weekly meals.

I’m hoping that I can work from home for the winter. It would be great to have meals that I can just pop into the microwave. If I have to return to the office, we’re not allowed to use the kitchen and that will really put a damper on my healthy eating plan. There’s only so many cold foods you can eat on a daily basis.

Anyways, that’s where my mind is today. It’s going to be a busy afternoon baking and hopefully helps to warm this place up! I’ll share some recipes later and some pictures if things turn out well.

I’m not ready for it to be winter yet!

Happy Monday!