Hang On To Your Holidays


We've entered November, which is traditionally the starting gate for the big holidays. This year will be different than most because some parts of the world are back into lock down. In the US, everything here will be low key at best.

This virus is a pain, or I should say the "safeguards" are a pain. There's no joy in shopping if I have to wear a mask. I'd rather stay home and order online. The only things I refuse to shop online for are groceries. The idea of someone else picking my produce or making a decision on alternatives for the items I selected grates on my last good nerve. 

But it's a thing now. People will happily pay someone else to shop for them. And dollars to donuts, it won't end even when the virus does. God help us. Yet another thing we let others do for us.

I refuse. I do things and I know stuff. Sometimes it's stuff I don't even want to know, like computer code. I hate coding, but I learned it so I could build my first web site. Once I did it, I understood the mechanics better. I would never build another web site, but it's now in my pile of "stuff I've done".

But back to the holidays. It's the one time many people try to go back to tradition and do (at least a few things) for themselves and their families. 

Food is the biggie. Food is the tie that brings us together so we pull out all the stops, despite government intervention, despite inconvenience, or shortages.

Shortage is today's topic. Just before the election, I decided to stock up for a 3 month period in case the US went into holiday lock down (like the UK). 

Since we're typically well stocked anyway, this trip was more about filling the larder with nuts, sweets, and holiday making foodstuffs. I also upped my ante on seafood. We eat fish regularly and I wanted to make sure there was plenty to last us until January in case we couldn't go out for one reason or another.

Traditionally, this is the time of year when prices are lowest on baking supplies and holiday meats. I am seeing a disturbing trend in a lower supply of bacon and some canned goods. I'm not sure why these particular shelves are going empty on a regular basis unless it's because more people are stocking up. Good for them, but a pain in the neck for me. 😒

Word to the wise: If you're seeing a similar scenario for items you buy regularly, now is the time to stock up. Don't wait for sales. Grocery stores know they have you at a disadvantage this year. Don't expect the same kind of sales we saw last year.

Things you will see on sale (though not as cheaply as last year) are: butter, oils, sugar, and flour. 

I don't anticipate turkeys to come cheap this year. The US Department of Agriculture states that turkey production was down 5%. That might not seem like a lot, but in the US alone we raise for slaughter up to 270 million birds. So 5% is a mighty big bite.

I've not seen any shortages on ham so far. Standing rib roasts are available, as is duck--at least by me.

Fresh produce seems plentiful, but I'm not seeing the usual price drop before the holiday. You can have your pomegranates and cranberries, but you'll have to pay full price.

Quality has been hit or miss when it comes to produce too. Be sure to visit your grocery store when they restock the produce bins. Wait too long and you'll end up with the dregs. There's been an odd mix of scrawny celery and hot-tasting radishes.

TIP: If you wind up with hot radishes or sharp tasting onions, slice and soak them in cold water for a couple of hours. You can also use vinegar to mellow their flavor. 

If I know I'll be serving radishes as a snack later, I sometimes cut them up and let them sit in an ice water bath. If you want to get fancy, slice 'petals' on the radish. As they swim in ice water, the petals open up and make pretty radish flowers. Kids love them and adults will think you have too much time on your hands.  psst...it takes seconds.

Greg is a snacker, so I try to keep a variety of veggies on hand. If I make them ready to eat, he's less likely to snack on less healthy options. 

Your job this month is to start planning your next big feast. If you can buy your supplies early, do so. This way you won't get caught by empty shelves or unappetizing dregs.

What do you plan for your feast(s) this year? Are you hosting friends or family? I've offered invitations to two families for Thanksgiving, but as yet we don't know if they can make it. Either way, I'm ready.

In other news: For those of you who don't read me on Facebook, Jammy the cat had put me through the wringer for several days. He started vomiting again after weeks of 'normal' behavior. I was sure this was it. We didn't have any more options to help him and if he couldn't recover on his own, I'd have to put him to sleep. 

Wouldn't you know it. Saturday afternoon, he got better and ate a whole can of food and kept it down. Since then he's kept down all his meals. I give him tiny meals several times a day along with his medication. It's a tedious routine, but it's the only way I can keep him fed with enough calories.

I know he may never fully recover, but he's got to stop scaring me like that.


Stacy McKitrick said…
Glad to hear that Jammy is improving. I hope it continues.
We're keeping Thanksgiving small this year. Just Hubby, Daughter, and I. So I'll probably cook a turkey breast, baked sweet potatoes, and the green bean casserole we all like. Don't need to go overboard. We don't need to eat that much!
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: It's been a roller coaster ride with that cat.

re: sweet potatoes
That's a good idea. I don't like them, but Greg does. I might make that for him.
I'm following Jammy's recovering closely. I hope the poor little guy has turned the corner to healing.

We are still isolating, big-time. I haven't been to the grocery store since March. I'm like you - I want to buy my own food and I hate having someone else pick things out. But it's my only choice - Rick is flat-out against taking any chances.

I miss my kids and grandchildren (and great-grands, too) so much! I miss hugs with all of them. Just thinking about holding my great-granddaughter has me in tears. Someday soon, please!
Jenny Schwartz said…
Jammy really is putting you through the wringer. Let's hope he's Santa's Christmas miracle this year and he bounces into 2021. Here in Aus, they're warning us that fruit, veg and meat will be more expensive. We also have a trade war going on with China (yay us, like we need more trouble), but the upside to that might be cheaper seafood as they turn back a significant part of our catch. But that's not good for our fishing industry. Seems like someone's always losing this year.
Maria Zannini said…
Marlene: We already had covid so we're not particularly worried. It wasn't near as bad as the media depicted, despite our preexisting conditions.

Not that it was a picnic. We were pretty sick, but it was more like an overextended version of the flu. We recovered without any medical intervention (besides gargling and Nyquil).

I kind of enjoyed our isolation, but we only did it for about 3 months and we stayed pretty busy working around the homestead. I think I might've gone a little stir crazy if it had been longer.

I can't believe you have a great grandchild! I hope you get to hold her soon.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: I am highly suspect of food from China. There are enough horror stories about tainted pet treats and baby toys.

Can you grow any of your own? Your grandparents used to have a farm didn't they?

Because we isolated, we worked every free hour on the gardens and raised a virtual TON of food. I'm still picking squash, peppers, and tomatoes 9 months later.
Jenny Schwartz said…
The weird thing is there's heaps of fresh produce grown here in Aus - but the experts are claiming problems in the supply chain from COVID will increase the price. I'm sniffing supermarket profiteering. Hopefully, we keep a handle on COVID enough that farmers markets continue.
Angela Brown said…
I don't do FB the way I used to so I've missed out on what Jammy has been doing. Glad to hear the little bugger still has a few lives left. Talk about really trying to use up all nine lives.

I don't think we'll be doing much in the way of feasting. I'm thinking Thanksgiving and Christmas will be super low key since my kiddo isn't a big eater and with my dietary changes, I'm not quite the eater I used to be.

Like you, I don't let others do my grocery shopping. Tried it once and was unimpressed. And that one time involved zero produced because I refuse to let someone else decide the best cucumbers, asparagus or melons for me. Just not there, at least not yet.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: I'm hearing similar scuttlebutt about availability for various items.

You've given me an idea for a post on finding food in lesser known areas. Thank you.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: There are some people who absolutely need to use online grocery. My sister with a completely invalid husband, a friend of mine with a severely handicapped adult daughter, people who work all the time.

There are times to take advantage of personal shoppers, but for those of us who can manage on our own, it's an expense that takes away our ability to choose.

Some people don't mind this at all. I'm not one of them.
Mike Keyton said…
I love shopping for food (Loath and detest shopping for anything else esp clothes) But prowling supermarket aisles for food takes me back to my primeval roots as hunter gatherer. Love it :)

Ref turkeys, the covid has been bad news for their longevity. Suppliers have worked out that family gatherings will be necessarily smaller so they're no longer being allowed those extra months to fatten up and grow bigger, but being slaughtered now for the medium to small size.
I believe mink's going cheap
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: What I'm hearing now is that the birds they have in storage are the big ones. Now that feasts will be smaller, people are looking for small birds. Either they'll buy the big ones already in stores or they'll buy something else like ham or duck.