By Bill Melver

Facing into about the ninth week of this lock in thing, I’m sure everyone is experiencing “cabin fever”.  Some states have already started to open restaurants and hair salons while others are cautiously evaluating the options.  At the end of the day, I believe it’s up to each and every individual, whether or not he/she is willing to risk the potentials of becoming exposed to the deadly virus.  As for us, we take every precautionary measure and continue to go out as out needs compels us.  Grocery stores, of course are at the top of that list but we’ve been to Home Depot and Ace hardware.  We’ve increased our focus on outdoors this year so we’ve had to purchase lawn care products and stuff for our vegetable gardens.  Ginny has taken the extra challenge of growing the plants starting from seeds.  So she’s created an indoor garden in our breezeway, complete with its own fluorescent lighting and warming pads to stimulate the seedlings to healthy starts.

Me, I’m still focused on good eatin’. With our favorite restaurants closed, this creates opportunities to try specialty recipes and new challenges.  One of the favorite lunches for Ginny and the ladies was the Caesars salad at Ken Stewarts, where the dressing is made at tableside, using crushed anchovies and raw egg yolks.  Most restaurants serve Caesars salad but not the original version with anchovies and raw egg.  So, I decided to tackle this at home, and believe me, it was time consuming but worth every minute of my labor.  Of course, many people cringe at the thought of anchovies so this may not appeal to them but I must say, try it once, you may like it!

Also, in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, we made chili rellenos from scratch.  Again, we’ve yet to experience chili rellenos in any local restaurant that’s anything like the real thing served in my hometown, El Paso or Juarez, across the border.  Most are dipped in very thick flour-based batter, whereas the real thing is dipped in a very light batter of whipped egg whites with an egg yolk, folded in at the end.  The blend of the meaty Poblano peppers stuffed with melted cheese and deep fired in the light egg batter is something to die for.  To complement the pepper, I made pork carnitas and my own Mexican rice.  Secret to my rice recipe is to puree fresh onion, green chili and a can of tomatoes and blend that with cooked long grain rice.  Of course, refried beans, laced with lots of cheese topped off our Cinco de Mayo feast.

Of course, now that the weather is finally turning warmer, grilling will certainly become part of our cuisine.  There’s nothing more enjoyable than to be working in the garden, all afternoon with an occasional beer break then to top it off with a hassle-free grill out of burgers and dogs or chicken or steaks.  But let’s not forget, grilling seafood also.  We like to skewer shrimp, scallops  and veggies.  Secret to grilling scallops is to wrap each with two halves of an onion layer – this protects them from being over cooked.

Do you like smoked salmon?  I love the pre-packaged stuff and tried my hand at re-producing it but was never able.  So I did some google search and discovered, there are two different smoking methods – hot and cold, and the stuff I enjoy are cold smoked.  Who knew?  And to do a cold smoking, one needs a cold smoker, which consists of a smoker tube, a contraption with holes that is stuffed with wood chips and caused to smoke at very low temperature – less than 80 degrees – basically, it is caused to smolder.  They’re not very expensive – less than $25 so I purchased one.  Stay tuned for the result.

Originally published on NordoniaHills.News