Still in isolation

Our year is already one-third over, and what a different third of a year it has been. The first couple of months were fine, but then we got to March and all of this COVID-19 pandemic. It is difficult for all of us and all of you who are in isolation or quarantine, have my sympathy. I am being religious about staying at home; I am not interested in eating out, as we recently had a local case that was in food service. I am so used to getting in the car and heading to town when I need anything, or to check on something at our work shop, or go to exercise, or meetings or whatever, now that is all off. Luckily, my daughter was with me part of last week and that broke up the monotony, she helped me get started making personal masks by bringing me fabric that was 100% cotton. Some of what I had was cotton, other pieces of fabric weren’t, so those were set aside and the cutting out and some sewing started. My granddaughter had asked for and posted a pattern on fb that had a curved front rather than being flat as my other pattern was. Her package of 20 in a couple of sizes should arrive at her home on Monday. The rest that I have made and plan to make this week are the flat style that has elastic on the four corners and three tucks lengthwise across the center that will open out to cover the face and chin. Hopefully, all of these will work. Of course, elastic is increasingly difficult to get, my daughter said that the site she orders from have a shipping date for the round bead elastic (think hat elastic from when you were a child) of April 20th. A friend called yesterday afternoon and said another friend has some she is willing to give us, as she can’t sew right now. So, between what I had on hand, and the amount my sister gave me I will be OK for a while. What I have on hand now will make about six more masks before I run out, then, I will check about the other source, or maybe get lucky and the order my daughter placed will be shipped early after all.

My friends and I check on one another frequently by phone, my neighbor comes by and stands at the back gate and tells me hi, and on Friday, had her (imaginary class) tell me “hi” also as they continued their walk for PE class. If we didn’t laugh together, we’d probably be totally depressed and crying all the time. Another friend called me this morning, and I am worried as she has to go to a Wal-Mart to get her meds, they don’t have a drive thru and she will have to go inside to pick it up. I told her to sanitize her hands thoroughly as soon as she got back in her car. Hope she stays safe.

Another piece of great advice came from a friend that I have known since she was a child. (She and her sisters gave me the name “Granny Joyce” as they weren’t sure what they were supposed to call me when we were all together). It stuck, as my only (at that time) granddaughter was already calling me “Granny”. Her advice was “Don’t forget to breathe”, this sounds weird, because we all breathe, or at least we think we do, her advice meant “inhale deeply, and slowly let it out, three times in a row” to get more oxygen into your lungs. It can be done either inside the house or outside in your yard. Also, this is something that I read about in the past and have done it when I am driving back and forth between my home and Devine. Try it; it does seem to help.

Here are a few more meatless dishes for you to try. What gave me a laugh this morning, was the fact that a friend in this area, had a recipe on her FB site for “Cheese and onion enchiladas”, it was similar to the one I had in my column last week, except it had more onions in it and no diced green chilies!

Fish Vera Cruz

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 large, green, bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 large, yellow, bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 mediu7m onion, cut in half and sliced (whole onion)

1 clove garlic, crushed (I use bottled, diced)

2 cans (14½ to 15-oz) stewed tomatoes, coarsely chopped

¼ cup sliced pimiento stuffed olives

¼ cup Tabasco® Green Pepper Sauce

2 Tbs. lime juice

1 to 1½ pounds red snapper, sole, or flounder fillets (I have used Blue Hake Loins (from Schwans, but don’t know if they are still available).

¼ cup chopped cilantro

3 cups cooked yellow rice

Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Heat olive oil in 12-inch skillet, over medium heat. Cook peppers and onion until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes with their liquid, olives, Tabasco® Sauce, lime juice salt and fish fillets. Over high heat, heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until fish is tender. Stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with yellow rice, and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Shrimp are tossed in an easy home-made Alfredo sauce and cooked penne pasta and baked until you have cheesy goodness.

Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Bake

10 oz. penne pasta

3 tbsp. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. milk

1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1 c. shredded mozzarella

1/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add garlic, shrimp, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Season with salt Cook until shrimp is pink and no longer opaque, 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a plate. (Keep juices in skillet.)
  3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet to let melt, then add flour and whisk until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add milk and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Return shrimp to skillet. Add tomatoes and cooked penne and toss until combined. (Add more milk if mixture is too thick.)
  5. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parm and bake until melty, 5 to 7 minutes. Broil 2 to 3 more minutes until top is golden (watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!). Garnish with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve.

Fiesta Corn Salad (The first time I ate this, Dorothy Collins brought it to a VFW meet)

1 or 2 cans whole kernel corn

2 tomatoes, seeded and drained, then diced to the size of the corn kernels

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded if necessary and diced as above

½ cup diced onions

1 cup celery, diced as above

½ cup green bell pepper, diced as above

Salt and pepper to taste

Fat free Italian dressing

Drain corn, pour into bowl, and add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions celery, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Add enough dressing to coat all vegetables. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. If desired, diced avocado and fresh cilantro may be added just before serving. If all the vegetables are diced approximately the size of the corn kernels, it makes for a really beautiful presentation.