With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Some Things I've Learned about Cooking
Even, or maybe especially life's trials, even something as horrific as this pandemic, can have its uses–in this case, lessons that can be learned. I loved to cook—way back when—before I had a child whose Like-repertoire was extremely limited, and cooking became more of a Have To than it ever had been before. I got into the habit, or maybe I always was, of buying only what I thought I would need for the meals I planned to make. Then, a few weeks before I went into self-quarantine, I started stocking a few non-perishable food items at a time, figuring the time was coming. Suddenly I had overflowing cupboards. I had choices! I didn't have to make what I planned out before shopping. There wasn't a plan, and there were many things I could make. Suddenly my level of cooking expanded. I know a lot of people are cooking more because they're not going out to eat, and they're staying home more with more time on their hands. But that's not it for me. Except for errands I needed to run or walks or hikes, I pretty much was at home. For me, it's more cooking because: more choices. It probably means I'll shop somewhat differently when this is over.
I had a craving for cornbread but no cornmeal or flour or milk or baking powder. My brother and his wife did some shopping for me, and the shelves were empty of a lot of things—regular flour included. There was, however, coconut flour. "Sure," I said. How different could it be? Luckily, I took a look at the back of the bag before mixing everything and putting it in the oven. It said, "Coconut flour is highly absorbent. This means you need substantially more eggs than when baking with almond or wheat flour." Hmm. There was no hint as to what "substantially more" might mean. I use my mother's recipe, which calls for one egg. I've used two for years to yield cornbread that's lighter and also holds together better. So I decided on three for this recipe. I had to bake the bread about 2/3 of the time again as long as called for, possibly because I used my toaster oven and a smaller pan. It came out rich, held together nicely, was quite moist and dense, and had a coconut-y flavor that was okay but took a little getting used to. I also made lentils and added something I don't care for in salad dressings—balsamic vinegar, which made the dish superb.
Kindness. Just witnessing and receiving the kindness of others
• Cheyenne's friend's husband, who is predictably young, went to the homes of the elderly in their neighborhood to ask if there was anything he could do for them.
• A Sikh community in NYC cooked hot meals for more than 30,000 isolated people.
• Starbucks gives free coffee to healthcare workers.
• A friend's son's teacher wrote chalk messages of love on the sidewalks in front of her students' homes.
• A neighborhood message board suggested a "bear hunt" for children in the vicinity of an elementary school, asking people to put stuffed animals in windows for children to "find."
• The Columbia Sportswear CEO cut his salary by $10K, so retail employees could continue to receive their regular pay.
• People made music from their balconies, porches and windows, creating community in the process.
• We check in on each other by phone, Face Book, and emails, and suddenly it is with much greater frequency than before and perhaps with people we don't often reach out to.
And so it goes. There is kindness everywhere. I have seen more evidence of kindness than of anything else.