I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I last chimed in here (never has the lapse been so long!).
Then again, there is so little of this situation that I can fully grasp, either.
Unprecedented times, my friends. Speaking of which, doesn’t it seem like time is elastic?
Sometimes it feels like hours and even days are just a blur: cleaning, cooking, washing up, procuring goods, tidying, laundry and the like. Plus, remember when we didn’t need to sanitize groceries?
Chores and home projects occupy so much of my day that it feels like we live in another time. I had to laugh recently when I realized the prescience of one of the last gifts I received right before lockdown: a pristine set of vintage tea towels mirroring the need to do chores in a timely and organized weekly fashion.
(What felt ironic last month feels oddly relatable right now.)
There’s both drudgery and beauty in the slow, continual upkeep. Sometimes I’m grateful for the busy work (it takes my mind off my worries) and other times it feels so oppressive being stuck inside all the time and running circles on the housekeeping Habitrail.
(Trust me though when I tell you that I know how lucky I am to not have to drag myself to essential — and possibly hazardous — work each day).
At other times though I think about what lies ahead and it feels time is an IV drip, moving painfully slowly towards the day when normalcy returns. Drip. Drip. Drip.
And will normalcy ever really return?
I can’t go there. Between the prospect of D’s cancer and lurking COVID, I just need to find ways to cope.
First off, no surprise here, my idea of coping is to cram as much deliciousness into our lives as I can.
These aren’t fancy fixings, just delectable, simple fare that doesn’t require quick last minute trips to the store for ingredients or tax my brain too much.
So there’ve been lots of burritos happening over here.
And grain bowls.
And wedge salads.
Man do I love that ruffle of leaves, the lovely and refreshing crunch of fresh lettuce, the chew of warm bacon and the tang of a homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing.
Roast chicken has always been a favorite around here and perhaps now even more so.
If I’m able to score two chickens at a time I roast them both at the same time.
The first night we eat the chicken straight up with pan juices
(dibs on the crispy, golden flecked skin!)
and then I incorporate the rest of the meat and homemade stock into other dishes over the next few days.
I haven’t gone into a grocery store for a couple weeks but I’ve been lucky enough to have a few friends to do some shopping for me and I’ve supplanted that with a couple contact-free pick ups at a local store.
Happily this means that there have been very few hiccups with supplies, and by planning ahead (and being blessed with a great pantry), I’ve been able to enjoy a good number of treats with the crew over the couple weeks.
Baked (then grilled) buttermilk garlic chicken wings
used the leftover buttermilk from Easter brunch.
Homemade Sharp Cheddar biscuits make everything better.
No one complained when a cheesy Gruyere potato gratin was the star of dinner one night
or that the pairing of Blue Hawaii cocktails might have seemed like strange bedfellows.
And a day that ends in dark chocolate ganache dipped Oreos is a pretty good one, don’t you think?
Everyday I try to keep an eye on improving my world or others. It’s really important to prettify and add beauty to all our lives wherever we can.
Often times it’s the tiniest, most humble things that we can find joy in, no?
Look at these flowers foraged largely from the dropped camelias found at my neighborhood park; a few blooms I got from a friend but the rest were found resting on the soft grass.
I got the idea from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Heidi Swanson, who put out a fallen bouquet challenge on Instagram and I fell in love with the idea, and immediately hit my neighborhood parks (mercifully still open albeit uncomfortably busy at times).
In the last couple weeks I’ve dropped off about nine bouquet bowls to friends and neighbors and enjoyed fresh flowers of my own non-stop — at no cost.
Now that the camelia bushes have seemingly peaked, I’ve borrowed a neighbor’s long telescoping cutter to get at the lilacs that have suddenly bloomed in my backyard.
Here’s the arrangement I made for myself
and when the white ones went away, there were still enough lilac blooms to share with others, leaving them safely on front steps and porches.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have (or know someone) with a blooming lilac bush right now, I cannot even begin to tell you how intensely fragrant the cuttings can be.
I have so much more to tell you about.
Swapped food baskets. Kid treasure hunts in my front yard. Collectively honoring and supporting my friend the hard-working ER doc. Getting creative with found supplies. Taking inspiration from others on spreading hope.
Recreating restaurant favorites at home.
But that shall have to wait. A Zoom call approaches. The kitchen is a mess after digital learners foraged and reheated various leftovers. Porter needs a walk and in two hours a friend is stopping by and we’re having a cocktail date 15 feet apart and catch up face-to space-face. And did I mention it’s Change-the-Sheets Monday?
So more to share. Soonish. (“ish” feels like the best modifier to describe this strange, awful, wonderful, mystifying, terrifying time right now).
I send a whole lot of this your way.
Stay safe, keep strong, eat well.
And don’t forget to wear that mask– your life (or that of someone you cherish) could very well depend on it.