Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #18: July 12, 2020

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay this week - it's been a busy one!  One constant battle I've been facing during the quarantine is balancing my love of baking and cooking with my need to be at least reasonably fit and healthy.  It's hard to stick with a good exercise routine for an extended period, especially when we're not able to physically go to the gym or attend a regular fitness class in person.  On the other hand, it's relatively easy to get ingredients delivered and work through our long playlist of recipes that had been ignored for years before the quarantine hit.  On the plus side, retailers would be happy to deliver new jeans (or sweatpants) to your door should you change sizes right now, but most of us would generally like to avoid that fate (at least on an upward trajectory).  I have no easy solutions, but I have favorites on both sides of this battle.  So this week, I offer you some delicious recipes to test out, as well as some great new workouts as a counterbalance.  Remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint - it's definitely ok to indulge from time to time, but it's important not to lose sight of the big picture.  Best of luck on the road ahead!

Previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


  • I'll be trying out this free at-home HIIT cardio boxing class (no equipment needed), this Thursday.  Tune in with me!
  • Obé Fitness: A monthly subscription gets your access to unlimited fitness classes.  I haven't yet tried this myself, but I plan to this week, and I'm excited about the variety of classes they offer.  Apparently there are also ways to tune in as a group, so if you're into doing that kind of thing together, let me know.  I'm also able to send an unlimited number of invitations for a free one-month membership, so if you'd like to test it out too, just let me know and I'll send you the details.
  • One of my first recommendations for you, back in March, was this amazing 19-minute cardio-boxing workout.  If you never tried it, now's the time!  This workout kicks my butt every. single. time.  And I'm still not sick of it, after fairly regular inclusion in my rotation for four months straight.
  • It's not a workout, but if you're really trying to keep your weight in check, one effective way to do it is also quite simple: track your caloric intake each day, and make sure that you're directly balancing any extra indulgence with a workout that makes up for the calories. It really is a numbers game, and while it's not glamorous, it just plain works.  I've used MyFitnessPal to great effect in the past and would recommend it if you've never tried a calorie-counter before.  One added bonus: You can hook up a smart scale (like the FitBit Aria) and certain fitness trackers in order to automate some of your tracking and to enable reporting over the course of weeks or months that can be really informative and motivating.
  • I don't know who needs to know this, but...Pillsbury is now making all of their premade doughs safely edible raw.  That's right, you can now do what I've been doing for years, open the package, and just put the dough directly into your mouth.  No pesky oven and cook times to get in your way.  Happy bonus: no more fear of salmonella (been there, done that, not fun, but totally worth 27 years (at the time) of licking the bowl)!
  • Readers' reward: If you're seeing this, congratulations - you're a winner!  Fill out this form and you'll receive a shipment of cookies over the next few weeks!  Offer valid while supplies last; roughly 10 winners per contest.
  • Recipe of the Week: Cornmeal-Crusted Shrimp.  I used frozen jumbo shrimp, and this was a phenomenal, restaurant-quality dish.  If you're using frozen shrimp, the first step is to either thaw them or to put them in a Ziploc and start running warm (not hot) water over them while you prep the batter; either way, peel and devein before using.  In a bowl, combine 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, and preferred seasonings (I used salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and a smoky maple barbecue seasoning mix).  In a separate small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1/2 cup milk.  Heat a layer of oil in a large frying pan - it should be about half as deep as your shrimp (so if you're using small shrimp, you'll need less than for jumbo shrimp).  One by one, fully submerge each shrimp in the egg-milk mixture, then completely cover with the breadcrumbs, pressing them onto the shrimp until you have a reasonably thick coating with no shrimp visible, then pile on a plate until you're ready to fry.  Once your shrimp is battered, place one layer in the pan, leaving about an inch between each so they don't stick together.  Cook about 3-5 each side, using tongs to gently flip each one  so as not to rip off the cornmeal crust.  Once the shrimp are golden brown and crispy, remove to a paper-towel-lined plate for a few minutes to drain.  I served them over white wine & herb pasta (with garlic, fresh chives, rosemary, thyme, and sweet), and it was absurdly delicious - see previous digests for my base white-wine-garlic sauce recipe.
Other entertainment options and helpful tips
  • Bored of the same old fallbacks when it comes to date night or game night?  Sick of having to come up with fresh ideas to entertain your husband or your kids every weekend?  Ran out of jigsaw puzzles in Week One of the quarantine?  Check out AmazingCo Experiences, offering an awesome assortment of curated virtual activities, including everything from "Foodie Fun Night" to "Family Date Night" to virtual escape rooms, trivia nights, and even playdates and birthday party activities for kids.
  • Do diplomacy, protocol, and etiquette matter anymore?  Tomorrow, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Capricia Penavic Marshall (former U.S. chief of protocol and current ambassador), and Jennifer Palmieri (President Obama's White House Communications Director) will tell us why they do.  Visit 92Y for details (and support a truly remarkable slate of talks and classes in the process).
  • Glasses fogging up when you wear a mask?  Here are some ways to avoid or minimize the problem.
  • Need to keep the kids occupied?  When the quarantine began in March, Union Square Play closed their physical location and started focusing their energy where parents need them the most - right at home.  Each day, you can visit their website to access 3 new activities: a family activity, a kids' video, and an online talk for parents.  With tons of activities available on demand, this could be a game-changer this summer.
  • Not tech-savvy?  Hello Tech is offering a remote plan for 24/7 computer support, for $99/year.
  • Overwhelmed by the options on your streaming services and don't know where to start?  Three times a week, a New York Times editor is offering very specific streaming recommendations (e.g., today's include "I have a few minutes, and I need good role models...", "I have a few hours, and I like dramedy...", and I have a few hours, and I already watched everything on Fx...").  Sign up for the newsletter here.

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