Because I’m an minimalist introvert who works from home, the current situation hasn’t required huge lifestyle changes. Having just completed my sixth winter in Finland, I’m also adept as stocking up on essentials in the event bad weather makes grocery shopping difficult. So here is an informal Introvert’s Guide to Eating Well.
First, an update on our trip outside yesterday. Temperatures have been in the positives, and the sun has been shining, so all of the snow and ice is gone from the walkways. Crews have been out cleaning up the gravel, so walking was pleasant. The store itself was empty, with only one other customer shopping. All of the shelves were full, and we were able to get everything on my list. There was no line at checkout!
Because we bought a lot, we took the bus home. The driver was wearing a mask and gloves, and the first few rows of seats behind him were roped off. They’re not taking cash, so you need to have a bus card and tap it to pay your fare. Those can be topped up online. There were only a few people on the bus, pretty evenly spaced out.
An Introvert’s Guide to Eating Well
I’m not sure how to approach this, so I’ll start with meals. We always have a stockpile of coffee. During the winter, I buy a package of coffee on every trip, even if we don’t need it. On our two excursions last week, I bought two each trip. Yesterday I bought two. I expected each trip to the the last for a while.
We bought fresh milk, but only the usual amount. On each trip during the winter, and on each trip over the past week, I’ve also bought a carton of shelf-stable milk. It’s common here, and I’m sure you can get it in the United States even though I don’t remember ever seeing it. Shelf-stable milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened. It’s pasteurized at a higher temperature and sealed in a special carton. You can keep it in a cupboard for a long time. I also have a can of instant milk powder, which is not as common and I can only find at the Turkish market.
For breakfast we’ve been eating breakfast burritos. Finnish potatoes keep for a long time if you store them properly in a cool, dry place. The same goes for onions. Tortillas likewise don’t go bad quickly, so I have several sealed packages; I can also make my own if need be. Eggs here are not pasteurized, so they do not need to be refrigerated. There’s no real fear of salmonella, because the standards of cleanliness at Finnish poultry facilities is insane. The eggs keep for up to a month, which means I usually have 4 to 6 cartons on hand during the Long Dark.
I’ve also been baking banana bread, using the stash of bananas in the freezer because they weren’t eaten quickly enough. Those are about gone, though, because I wanted them cleaned out to make more space for vegetables and proteins. I can still make cinnamon rolls, cardamom buns, or just bread for toast with jam.
Lunches are usually our big meal. Katie and I tend to take a long lunch. Because we both work in the evening, it tends to break up the day better. My pantry is filled with various types of pasta, rice, beans, and lentils. I’ve got cartons of tomato sauce (it comes in cardboard boxes here, rather than glass or plastic jars) that I can do various things with. In the freezer I have frozen vegetables, ground beef that’s been portioned into freezer bags, and pork chops similarly repackaged. Last week I cooked chickens, separated the meat into portions to freeze, and made stock with the carcass. This being the Nordics, I also have a stash of frozen.
It should go without saying that I have an entire cabinet stocked with spices, bouillon, and baking supplies. I can make biscuits and gravy, Yorkshire pudding with gravy, just plain bread with gravy. There’s also soup and bread, throwing whatever bits of meat and veg into the broth.
I can make fried rice, and stir fry some chicken or sliced pork. I can use spaghetti to make lo mein. There’s also spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti bolognese, and Finnish meatballs with potatoes. Red beans and rice is hearty, filling, and can be seasoned in different ways. That can also be wrapped in a tortilla to make a burrito. I also use red beans to make the sweet filling for dou sha bao.
For dinner we usually have something easy, if not necessarily light or healthy. When we have supplies, it’s often fruit, cheese, and crackers. During this apocalypse it’s salami sandwiches or hot dogs, because both of those meats last a long time. We have sliced cucumbers to go with that for the next couple of days. After that we’ll have carrot sticks, because carrots last for a while. There’s also yogurt and muesli, for a long as the yogurt supply lasts. Push comes to shove, we can made due with porridge and jam.
It’s worth mentioning that aside from coffee, Katie and I both drink water. We have some juice on hand, but that’s a weekend breakfast thing. Soda is expensive, and it’s heavy. Since we don’t have a car there’s a limit to how much weight we can carry. We made a decision years ago to sacrifice having any soda at him in return for more actual fresh produce. The water quality out of the tap here is superb, so it’s not a hardship at all.
Camp Corona Day 8
I’m told that trips to the grocery store don’t count as breaking the chain, so this is our eighth day inside. For people that aren’t natural introverts, I do feel your pain. To those encountering financial hardship, I feel for you. It’s hard not to be selfish, but in spite of what certain politicians might say, listen to medical professionals and don’t be selfish. If things are hard now, imagine how much worse they’ll be if this spreads further and overwhelms the health care system. Be safe. Be well.