Cooking To Pass The Time

Sunday was the day when I finally stepped into the kitchen, determined to cook something that I hadn’t tried before. I prepared pork chops with asparagus and mushrooms and egg noodles in cream of mushroom sauce. Here is how I went about it.

First, I cut up some asparagus and set I aside. Then I opened a package of mushrooms to have them ready as well.

Next, I drained four center-cut pork chops and coated them with my seasoning, which consists of:

  1. 1/2 tbsp salt
  2. 1/2 tbsp pepper
  3. 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  4. 1/2 tbsp onion powder

The next step was to prepare the Instant Pot by coating the bottom with a thin layer of avocado oil (you can use olive oil if preferred). Then I started the Instant Pot and set it to “Sauté”.

Once the Instant Pot heated up, I put the four pork chops in and let them cook for two minutes on each side.

After the pork chops were finished with the “Sauté” setting, I turned the Instant Pot off to get things ready.

I put the asparagus over the pork chops, followed by the mushrooms. Then I put in a bag of egg noodles, followed by 4 cans of cream of condensed mushroom soup, and about 2-2 1/2 soup cans of water.

The beauty of the Instant Pot is that the egg noodles go in right out of the bag without cooking them first.
I set the Instant Pot to cook “Meat/Stew” for 20 minutes, closed and secured the lid, making sure that the pressure release was closed.

That was it. It takes the Instant Pot a few minutes to pressure up and then start the countdown timer. Once it completed, I waited about 12 minutes before releasing the pressure. The timer counts up after the cooking cycle completes. This is called “slow release”.

After bleeding off the remaining pressure by opening the release on top of the Instant Pot, I stirred the awesome meal before putting it into a serving/storage container.

Et voila, it was finished. It came out delicious. And the best part was very little cleanup afterward.

Sometimes

Writing isn’t always easy. There is nothing more disheartening than staring at a white screen, wondering why the words just won’t appear is if my magic. An idea that seemed so brilliant suddenly appears terrible and you want to start all over again. These are a few of the things that curse writers and bloggers each and every day. It seems to effortless to the outsider to just sit and throw some words together and call it a blog post. Trying to weave those words and ideas into a story is much more complicated and requires more attention and effort.

Another pitfall is repeating oneself. Original ideas are hard to come by, and even harder to capture and write about coherently. The fear of sounding just like everyone else is enough to stop some bloggers for good. There is an entire cottage industry dedicated to telling other people how to write. Most of the ideas are good, but they are not enough to get someone motivated without real-world examples to go along with them.

Sometimes the words just flow out of me and I am amazed at how quickly the screen fills up with words. These are the wonderful days, no matter what else is happening, or how I feel, the words flowing out of me bring me nothing but joy. Even if I am sad as I write, I rejoice in the action and the effort because it makes me feel alive.

Crisis Doesn’t Change Some Things

There is an old saying that difficult times bring out the best in people. I believe this is true in the general sense, but for some people, a crisis like we are facing makes no difference at all to them. My extended family is a shining example of the latter scenario.

For most of my life, I’ve known that my extended family on my Mom’s side are some rather unpleasant pieces of work. Long story, but Mom was orphaned as a child and wasn’t found by her older siblings until she was well into adulthood. The result is that there has never been a true familial bond. Mom was always the “outsider” and my Dad and myself were shunned as well.

You cannot miss what you never had. This is true in regards to a close relationship with my extended family. There is no surprise at all when I naively attempted to reach out to them last week to see if they were doin ok with the Coronavirus situation. Not surprisingly, I’ve had no response from any of them. I officially give up on them. They have no regard for, nor interest in me. I’m done trying to be the nice one. I don’t wish them I’ll, I simply just don’t care anymore.

This decision wasn’t arrived at in a hurry, or with any rush to judgement. I hoped that facing this common adversary called Coronavirus might enable us to finally connect and start to build some bridges over the chasms that have separated us for our entire lives. We know that each other exists, but that will remain the extent of our contact from this day forward.

I say all of this calmly and without emotion because there has never been a time to feel bad about the situation, at least in my life. I can’t miss what I never had.

Adjusting To Everyone Else Adjusting

Apologies to everyone for not writing yesterday. I had a migraine that lurked right behind my eyeballs all day long at work. It never morphed into the full-blown migraine, but that didn’t make me feel lucky at all. I managed to make it through the day at work and then I made some spaghetti in the Instant Pot for dinner. I’m glad to report that dinner turned out delicious, and after a quick clean-up I went to bed after a shower.

I slept most of the night and my blood glucose stayed in range. I woke up this morning with only the slightest tingling sensation in my head, a good sign that things will be better today. The biggest obstacle today will be making the adjustment to everyone else who is working from home. I wrote the other day with some tips on how to be successful at working from home. I never expected any of the coworkers to read that, and they haven’t. Now I am throwing up my hands and declaring that my Thursday meeting will not happen due to everyone having issues. I will send out my presentation and instruct everyone to comment back if they have questions or see any problems. That should solve the issue for this week. I hope that things calm down soon. The uproar is affecting other people so much more than myself, I hope that their coping skills are up to the challenge.

What I Learned Today

Today I learned that I am able to help others who are suddenly having to telework due to the current situation with Coronavirus. I began working from home about 6 years ago and have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in order to stay productive. I decided that it would be a good idea to post a few of the main lessons I learned through the years.

  1. Always keep the same hours that you worked in the office. The temptation to “flex” your work time can be irresistible, but you have to maintain discipline and stick to a routine if you want to be successful at working from home.
  2. Never work in sleep clothes or PJs. Even if you have no conference calls to attend, and even if those calls have no video functions, always get yourself up and take a shower and put some regular work clothes on. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a suit and tie, but at least give everyone the impression that you care while you work from home.
  3. Find a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed often during the day. Distractions are common at home, and we respond to them without thinking. Isolate yourself, especially in the beginning so you can learn to ignore the things that aren’t critical. Remember that if you can work from home successfully, you might have the opportunity to do more of it in the future.
  4. Remember that working from home is not for everyone. If you cannot stay focused, tell your boss as soon as possible rather than just sit and get nothing done until the boss realizes you aren’t producing. That never ends well.
  5. Keep family and pets at a safe distance while you work.
  6. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to keep your mind fresh and focused.
  7. Make a plan of what you want to get done each day and then try to reach those goals.
  8. Answer your phone professionally, remember that you are still at work.
  9. Make time for conference calls. The interaction will help you to break the monotony and maintain contact with your coworkers.
  10. Enjoy lunch at home.

I hope that anyone thrust into teleworking without time to prepare finds some of these hints to be helpful.

Something I Haven’t Tried Yet

I picked up my Writing Journal this morning and the topic for today is something that has no relationship to Coronavirus, and that makes a nice change. What is something that I want to do that I haven’t tried yet?

I have had a full life and this is a harder question than I thought it was. I have done so many things that I never thought I would as I traveled the world, especially during my time with the Navy.

I suppose that one thing I really want to do is to act on stage. I think that I would be good at acting, but I cannot produce any evidence to back it up. I can imagine acting for the first time and feeling awesome afterwards. I have never dreamed about failing as an actor, whatever that means. Perhaps I should explore community theater? I think that any chance of ever being in a movie are less than zero, but life is an adventure, a banquet where most people are starving to death.

Shortages

We have all heard about shortages over the last week. We have a shortage of kits to test for the Coronavirus, and that means we can’t get a truly accurate picture of just how widespread the problem is.

We have a shortage of respirators, and that means we can’t treat everyone properly who might or might not actually have the Coronavirus because we have a shortage of test kits.

We have a shortage of leadership from our allegedly elected officials. The Orange Nazi also has a shortage of personal responsibility because nothing is ever his fault.

There are some things that we don’t have a shortage of. Information and infoporn are all too available to us. This overwhelms our inputs and creates a sense of hopelessness and despair. We also have no shortage of those feelings.

As for feelings, I know that we have no shortage of compassion and kindness. That is something we make for ourselves in such quantities that we can always manage to spare some for those people in need.