Staying social and sane during COVID-19

Apr 4 • Bruce Uncorked, COVID-19, Feature StoryNo Comments on Staying social and sane during COVID-19

Bruce Uncorked

Just some musings during the COVID-19 “funfest” that is the reality these days. And remember, I’m sarcastic.

We Corcorans and other Chatham Voice staff are practising social distancing. We haven’t had more than three staff in the office at any given time, and the closest any of these people sit to one another is in excess of six feet.

Most are working from home when possible and others, unfortunately, are on temporary lay off following the suspension of our print edition.

On a recent late afternoon, Mary Beth and I surprised friends Eggless Chad and Charlene with a visit. They had just completed their 14-day self-isolation following a trip down south and were going stir crazy.

So we pulled up in front of their house. I texted to him: “Beer Time,” and “Look out front.”

Mary and I pulled out a couple of lawn chairs and sat at one end of the driveway, while they grabbed chairs of their own and sat up close to the house. We exceeded the two-metre self-distancing requirement and got to socialize at the same time.

Even when we shifted into their two-car garage to get out of the wind, we maintained our distance. Heck, Mary even sat away from me (for the record, I didn’t have gas).

It felt at least a little normal; some socializing, but at a distance.



Special delivery

Friends Tim and Deb spent time down in Florida over the winter, but got out when the getting was good, before St. Patrick’s Day. They began their self-isolation in Florida, pulling back from hanging out with friends, before leaving. But when they arrived home, they followed through with the 14-day self-isolation.

But Tim stopped by the office on Tuesday. He rapped on my window and I went out to chat.

He had a special delivery for me: a 12-pack of Yeungling beer, the best American beer there is, and made by the oldest independent brewery in the U.S.

You see, he is one of those funny and cruel kinds of guys. In February, he emailed me a beautiful photo of a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. The beach looked tranquil and inviting…and about 2,000 kilometres away.

But Tim sent a second photo, prefaced by a request for me to check the lighting and compare it to the first shot.

It wasn’t a sunset shot, however. Instead, it was a photo of an ice cold Yeungling on a patio table!

I expressed my disdain over his abject cruelty, and I know he had a good chuckle at my expense (and a good drink of that golden nectar, Yeungling).

But Tim felt remorse or pity, because he brought that 12-pack back for me.

It came with its own disinfectant wipe and an assurance Tim had wiped down the case before delivering it.

I thanked him and placed the case in the back of my pickup truck, giving it one last look of appreciation before sealing it away.

I left it there for 24 hours before taking it out and putting those 12 treasures into my beer fridge. And to my friends, especially Sensei Jeff, that’s not the outdoor beer fridge, so a late-night raid will yield nothing!

Tim, I thank you again, and always enjoy your warped sense of humour. How Deb has remained married to you all these years is a mystery. She is a saint!

Egg time

I must thank another friend, Mike Genge of the Children’s Treatment Centre, for posting regularly to Facebook about what he’s cooking during this period of self-isolation.

Mike doesn’t have a Big Green Egg, but he does sport a Traeger smoker. Not quite as versatile, but don’t tell Mike that. He’s cooked everything from chicken wings to a nice hunk of pork to pizza in that smoker.

And by doing do, he’s forced me to up my game at home. The Big Green Egg is back in action many evenings.

My most recent cooking effort was a simple staple around the Corcoran residence: chicken breasts.

Mary added some garlic and pepper spices to the chicken I was to cook for her and our kid, Brenna (now the age of an adult), and I gave mine a healthy dose of Tsunami Spin, some nice seasoning with a bit of heat.

On they went at 400 F and after eight minutes a side and a check to make sure all breasts were cooked through, off they came.

Some people just go back indoors while the food is cooking, and I do that for longer cooks. But for a barbecue effort like this, I enjoy sitting outside and either listening to music or enjoying the sounds of nature.

It’s spring. The birds are a chirpin’ so this time around, the music stayed inside.

And while relaxing in the backyard, I also got to enjoy the wonderful aroma of the meat cooking over burning lump charcoal. That’s intoxicating.

With the chicken, Mary Beth made a great sauce with avocado, garlic, cilantro, and salsa verde mixed in a food processor. Different, but tasty!

Chicken is the meat of choice around our house these days. As I did up some chicken burgers a few days earlier, and that time, I liberally sprinkled mine with some Swamp Venom (yes, I like a little heat). The chicken burgers came from Schinkels’ Gourmet Meats where I must say they are doing a great job of enforcing the self-distancing.

Along with the burgers, we picked up some Fighting Cock Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. This stuff is liquid gold; not too hot, but not sweet either.

Those chicken burgers, topped with lettuce, cheese and even a little ranch dressing, were a hit.



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