Here's something you may not know about me. I have asthma. When I was a child around 8 or 9 I told my mother I could not go to school because I could not breathe. She was so frustrated with my antics (as an avid reader with a very active imagination, you might say I was a bit of storyteller as a child), she brought me to the ER. The doctor admitted me for 9 days to find the right treatment. Now, I do not have children, but I imaging this is the perfect place to insert mom/parent guilt. Fortunately my asthma is managed by a simple inhaler these days. I share this for two reasons.
1. I am terrified of the more severe symptoms of Covid-19 because it sounds like an asthma attack with no treatment. Michael has been amazing about getting to the grocery store not only for me, but also for his mother. I am very lucky. There are many, many, too many Americans suffering right now that do not have the food they need. I highly recommend giving any amount you have the ability to give to the Martin Luther King Center in Newport, God's Love We Deliver in New York City or your local food pantry. There are so many people with disabilities and the elderly and those not as lucky as we are to be reading a blog on new ideas of what to make while we are bored on quarantine that rely on these services for every meal.
2. I cannot think about cooking without thinking of my mother's failed attempts at dinners, holiday spreads and inventive baking. At a very young age I realized that you needed more than two good recipes (my mother's approach to life with a dazzling flair for fantastic Steak au Poivre and dynamite pancakes, kind of a disaster for a family of vegetarians though) and they would need to be health conscious and also quick. It was apparent even then that my sister Heidi would be the homemaker with her ability to follow long and complex recipes while also cleaning the house (honestly, she was doing this since we were little kids) and I was going to be bossy and doing something in the arts and/or business (forcing Heidi to be the shopper at my store, the lead in some irreverent play or the camera person for my nightly news broadcast). So here I am three decades later - dozens of cookbooks, restaurants and countries later - and I am well versed in a variety of recipes from various locales, I know wine and cheese and pairings now too. I have even hosted my own holiday meals without total disaster. But somehow, none of my recipes apply to this quarantine time. Everything falls flat and seems a little "old life".
With all of this time with the store closed I have found myself with an inordinate amount of time to create. Not just at the easel either. I have been writing letters I meant to send ages ago, jazzing up the house, also meant to do ages ago and cooking new concepts. I am sure you too are feeling this new found time (those of you without kids, those with kids I do not know how you are managing, but just skip all this and go right to recipes). And I really keep thinking daily to make something of this time, it does not need to be extraordinary, but perhaps nourishing in meaningful ways, keeping our immune system up and cooking for those that we wish we had the time to cook for always. I keep thinking of this artist, Coco Capitan, work. She has a pieced titled "What will we do with all this future". I think I will be eating the foods that I make.
These are all things I have made since being in quarantine and I will likely add to this list. I am inspired by my friends at Stoneacre Brasserie who are offering 150-200 meals on Wednesdays and Saturdays free to service industry workers as their "Family Meal" initiative to keep service industry workers fed, (to support Stoneacre in this effort I urge you to call and place an order for gift cards and sign up for their Fernet Branca Club which we LOVE being a part of!) I wanted to share in the way that I can. I also love that WhatsUpNewp started a Virtual Tip Jar for Newport service industry workers. Any bit helps until we can get back into the restaurants we know and love.
If you are looking for some extra inspiration, check out @antoni of Queer Eye for his Instagram series called Quar Eye, a daily cooking show as he forages through markets and invents nutritious meals we can all make at home. Plus he is adorable and very funny and promoting Feeding America and other various food and meal initiatives.
I keep a Pinterest board of things I might like to make and when I need creativity, I browse through it before I go grocery shopping and when I come home with a mishmash of ingredients. Food52.com is a great place to enter a single ingredient you need to use in your kitchen and find dozens of amazing recipes with notes from readers. Also, Martha Stewart has been posting on Instagram some of her favorite seasonal recipes. I love seeing her in her industrial home kitchen with hundreds of copper pots hanging around. Trust my home kitchen is that of a bachelor (although Michael did have more than most) and a tiny NYC apartment (my two pan situation that stored dozens of takeout menus) merged together and layered upon over the last five years with some essentials... but I must admit we don't have a spatula or a whisk for some reason so I am so sure the kitchen you have is equally, if not better prepared than mine to make these meals happen!
What I'm cooking in quarantine:
Photo Credit: The Bojon Gourmet
I am very lucky that Michael enjoys roasting vegetables and we had the basics for this recipe - carrots, beets, lentils, feta. We had yogurt but chose not to dress the salad and it was simple and refreshing without it. As it can be quite tricky to get to the grocery store these days or even find one with real food on the shelves, substitutions could work or omitting an ingredient here and there works too! Here is the recipe.
Photo credit: Vegan Richa
Although I love vegan recipes, I love butter more. If you have the ability, I would ad a healthy pat of butter at the end and really stir up to bowl. I did more of a plating and without butter and it was missed. Get the full recipe here.
Also, this article from Domino Magazine has tons of other variations using breadcrumbs for pasta dishes.
Photo credit: Global Forecast 4 Kids
I did not follow a recipe for tacos, but I figured it was best to include one close to what I made. I like using leftover ingredients from the previous meal to get creative with a new meal. Michael had baked a bunch of potatoes to accompany his steak the night before. I am not big on sitting down to a potato on its own so I mashed one big one up and added Rhedd's Deja Vu sauce (you can find this at A Market and at Sprout & Lentil - made in Rhode Island and we put it on everything) and a little bit of vegan beef crumple and heated. Tossed that mixture with sour cream, cheese, avocado, salsa, cilantro and a squeeze of lime - we do a very make your own taco situation at our house, but this is how I prepared mine. Michael said it was the best taco combination I have ever made... I think it was definitely the Rhedd's which I cannot recommend enough. Here's the link for a similar recipe.
Photo credit: Whats Gabby Cooking
This is one of those recipes that I look at, get the gist of and then make my own as a vegetarian. I love the broth flavor. Instead of the chicken, I added cauliflower that I had tossed in chili paste, garlic, dab of maple syrup and a little Bragg's amino acid and a little soy sauce, sautéed, then roasted for 10 minutes in the oven. I am a big fan of garlic and ginger in soup so I probably added more than what was called for in this recipe here.
This article has a ton of great Vietnamese inspired dishes.
Photo credit: Budget Bytes
I stopped eating sugar about a year ago so I cut the sugar by half in this recipe and skipped the ice cream entirely. This dish saved a large carton of blueberries that were a bit squishy to eat, but made for an exciting filling for this easy bake. Get the recipe here
Classic Banana Bread
Photo credit: Food52
Last night, in an effort to save a few bananas that were way past their prime while spending some time in the kitchen instead of in front of the news, I went for this beautiful loaf. It was super simple and I ended up baking for 1 hour and 30 minutes instead of just the hour. I think we will freeze half because Michael's not big on breads and if I eat this entire thing I am going to need to double up on my virtual workout classes. Get the recipe here.
This blog will be updated so be sure to check back! Leave me some comments if you try anything or have any recipe suggestion I should try in lockdown. I am giving to every charitable organization listed here. I hope if you have the means to do the same you will consider supporting in any way you can. XO Kristen
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Let's keep in touch! XO Kristen