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Plague Diary

[b]110 - Sunday - 22 November 2020[/b]

A slightly strange day, in that we had some bursts of sunshine either side of midday. The temperature rose above 5 Celsius for a couple of hours. I was seriously tempted to sit out on the roof and catch some sun...


We had a slow and sensuous awakening. I brought us coffee in bed and we spent some time together before getting up and showering.

After a light breakfast of berries and yogurt, I set about the task of the day: to cook a cauldron of chilli con carne and portion it for freezing. Oksana wanted to join in, so I gave her the job of peeling and chopping onions. Kind of me. Meanwhile, I prepared the minced beef and the chillies.

I was using jars of prepared red beans so there was no need to soak or cook them beforehand. Cans of chopped tomatoes meant I did not have to peel or de-seed them. I fried onions until they were just beginning to caramelise and sweeten, then set them to one side. Next, I fried the minced beef to brown it and pour off some of the fat.

I warmed a little olive oil in my cauldron and added the mince and onions. I grated in six generous cloves of garlic, some chopped Chipotle chilli for its smoky, warm flavour, and some bird's eye chillies, for heat. When the chilli had fried a little, I stirred in tomato puree, quite a lot, and seasoned with salt and black pepper.

I let the mixture simmer gently for about five minutes, until it began to thicken, then loosened it with some passata. I drained a couple of cans of chopped tomato, to get rid of the watery juice, and added the tomato flesh. More salt and pepper, and a small amount of brown sugar to bring out the sweetness of the tomato. And a spoonful of dried oregano.

Again, I let this simmer very gently for a few minutes, to combine and amalgamate the flavours. It was not reducing too much, but I was ready to add more passata if it started to go dry. Then I stirred in a spoonful of good quality cocoa powder.

Finally, two jars of drained and washed organic red kidney beans. I use the organic ones because, for once, the quality and flavour are really better than the canned beans, with all sorts of added preservatives.

Stir it all together, add a little more passata, just a little more salt, and put a lid on the cauldron. It is basically cooked already, but I kept it on the lowest heat for almost an hour, as the flavours concentrate dand intensified.

We have about ten generous portions here. We will eat for supper on Monday with some rice, I think - I couldn't face it today - and freeze the rest in portions.

I had always wondered what the cauldron was for. Now I know.

Thank you to my friend, ArtieKat for his inspiration and advice with this. The good bits are his, the cock ups are my own.

Oksana helped with by feeding me coffee, mopping my brow, and occasionally testing the seasoning. Once she had recovered from peeling and slicing nearly half a kilo of onions.

The only real problem with this type of industrial cooking is that the kitchen ventilation system cannot handle it very well. The odours are not, in themselves, unpleasant, but they are intrusive. Luckily, we kept the bedroom door closed. But we have had to have windows open throughout the apartment, and it is not the weather for such bravado.

What else happened? I telephoned Mama, we chatted for quite a time. She is feeling a bit frustrated, a bit down about all the restrictions. And the weather isn't helping her. I gave her an outline of what we are hoping to do for the vacation, which did cheer her up, as it is something positive. She understands that it must be tentative right now, until we know the government decision about a lockdown.

She asked about my birthday, only three weeks away. I said we had no plans, and there isn't anything I desperately want or need. It is a Sunday, I think, so maybe we will have one of our virtual trips. New York, was someplace I always wanted to go. Even considered doing part of my studies there. Or... who knows?

Oksana and I discussed Christmas presents for her to buy her family, but gave up when we realised we would probably have to go on the dark web to get anything suitable.

And then we decided to go to bed and start again tomorrow.

So we had a shower.

And went to bed.
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KiwiBird · 31-35, F
I almost spilt my Oksana the onions to do. Tomato, sugar and oregano are a beautiful combination....Rice, or fresh noodles or pasta....should go with any of those. You have a few....

Don't overthink...whatever happens...happens. Nothing you can do. Alternative plans...

I do have the image of a witch stirring a bloody big cauldron over a fire...

Another weekend passes....
Yulianna · 22-25, F
[@521524,KiwiBird] 🤗 i'm kind like that... 💋
Sirfurryanimal · 61-69, M
So you let Oksana do the onions😭.Hope that wasn’t the effect they had on her.They do on me!
I’m sure Arti can give you plenty of ideas...
Cauldrons have other uses...working up spells for evil people...😂😂

I am sure you’ll think of something for Oksanas family.....make sure it says from Oksana and Yulia!And even if the government ruin your plans send a present.You can play nice even if Oksanas mum won’t!
And i’m getting about as much sleep as you...annoying!
sarabee1995 · 26-30, F
Hahaha, What possessed you to give the poor girl the task of onions?? Do you secretly not want her to help with cooking in the future?

And all of this cooking does indeed sound like witchcraft to me! I admire your skill and courage to tackle such a task. I cannot even imagine.

Yulianna · 22-25, F
[@1360,sarabee1995] 🙄 how many guesses do you want?

ok, i do enjoy the cooking and it takes my mind away from all the shit, but i am not a servant here, i want some support and appreciation. if she had offered to do them, i would probably have said no.


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