I am proud of my coronavirus cooking creativity. You make do with what you have on your kitchen shelves.
Dump canned food in your crockpot and give it a fancy soup name. With the cabinets almost bare, I mixed a can of corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, two cans of chicken, tomato juice, an aging snarly onion, and spices together. Wah-la! Chicken stew — sort of.
Boil some pasta, drain, and add kidney beans, tomato sauce, black and green olives. Wah-la! Pasta stew — sort of.
Who knew, the stellar star of eatery during the pandemic would be none other than Spam. Yes, the mystery meat in the tin can. My spouse stocked up on Spam Lite at the beginning of shelter-in-place orders.
Sliced, diced, and fried in olive oil, I added Spam to pasta with black olives and a white sauce. Tasty —sort of. Another dish is chunked Spam with fried rice. It’s a Spam jam for your mouth — sort of. What about a beast feast with a spud topped with Spam, cheese, onions, and peppers. Feel the foodie flavor — sort of. For protein during a pandemic, try scrambled eggs with Spam. Just like green eggs and ham — sort of.
According to Spam’s website, the canned meat contains 6 ingredients: already-cooked pork (two different cuts; pork shoulder and ham), salt, water, potato starch (to keep the meat moist), sugar and sodium nitrite (a common preservative). Spam is available in 43 countries worldwide. So, citizens in 43 different countries can boil, bake, braise, and barbecue Spam during the coronavirus calamity. Or just fry it up in a skillet.
I am aware that talking up Spam may not fool adolescents. They will probably whine for fast food. But the Spam goo does dissolve into the other ingredients.
Spam is the pork-butt of many jokes. I couldn’t help myself with that tacky comment. However, I nominate Spam as the meat staple stuff to fry up in a pan-demic. There I go again. Alas, does SPAM need a new name? What about HORK for pork in home-sheltering. Or PICAN for pig in a can.
What about a SPAM survival kit for the next microbe-mania. It comes with a dozen cans, a cookbook with only SPAM recipes, and a bottle of olive oil.
Beans are a staple around the globe. A pot of pinto beans and cornbread made in a skillet reminds me of days gone by in my grandma’s country kitchen. But leave out the bacon grease. Tell your kids it’s cowboy stew — sort of.
According to an article in The National Geographic, “There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but just 15 of them provide 90 percent of the world’s food energy intake. Rice, corn (maize), and wheat make up two-thirds of this. Other food staples include millet and sorghum; tubers such as potatoes, cassava, yams, and taro; and animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy.” They better include Spam.
My favorite stay-at-home snacks include apples smeared with peanut butter; celery smeared with peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs. My holiday candy is long gone, and my dogs go wild with happy feet when they get a sniff or whiff of peanut butter.
I have a hankering for bakery cinnamon rolls and carrot cake. When America reopens, I’ll be first in line to buy these sweet treats.
Bon Appetit until the pandemic passes.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio.