A pandemic cooking review

After I finish some writing this morning, I am taking the afternoon off to do something I haven’t done in a while: cook a fancy dinner. There is no special occasion. There are no guests. But it’s a sunny day, spring feels soon and, well, I want to. It’s reminded me what a great feeling it is when the horizon of your day doesn’t involve anything more complicated than chopping, kneading, and stirring white chocolate. Read more

I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it

Yesterday morning, pre-ice storm, I decided to cut up some vegetables so we would have part of dinner prepped in case the power went out. Eventually, my husband, who is off this week, came around the kitchen wondering why I was chopping carrots at 11 a.m.

“It’s for our warm vegetable salad tonight,” I said. “In case we lose power.”

“Are we going to lose power?”

“Well, I don’t know. Best to be prepared though.”

I recognized my tone was a little strident, possibly holier-than-thou, but I primly kept chopping. He stepped away silently and, post chop, I proceeded with my day, feeling extra smug about the fact that I thought to work out on the elliptical and then have a shower while we still had hot water.

Man, I thought to myself. My survival skills are on point.

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I just called you up

You know, I have a lot of feelings about talking on the telephone. But never have they shifted more abruptly than over the past year. While its ring used to make me cower, now it makes me brighten up and run toward it.

Crazy what a 100-year pandemic will do to a girl.

First, allow me to explain. For the past 15 years, I’ve been the person whose friends know not to call unless it’s an emergency. To me, a phone call always feels like an interruption. An obligation. Work that requires me to shed my natural, introverted self and pretend to be, horror of horrors, chatty.

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The Ultimate Cookie Lives Near You

Well, I’ve found it. It’s taken a lot of research. It’s taken a lot of time. But I’ve finally found it.

The very best chocolate chip cookie on the planet is baked and sold at Market on Main right here in Somerset, Ky.

It is chewy, but not under baked.

It is big, but not ridiculous.

It is so loaded with chocolate that it appears as both chips and layers.

It is perfect.

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Days in the ugly jacket

The latest addition to my daily pandemic outfit is a black fleece jacket I’ve owned since 2002. You wouldn’t think something black could be this impressively ugly and, yet, here I am confirming it is. It’s incredibly pilled. It’s incredibly big. And it has these sleeves cut so wide that, in a pinch, you could probably pack a thigh in there and still have room for supper. The overall result helps the dictionary define the word “frumpy.”

And yet, several times a day now, I reach for this fleece jacket, zip it up and silently praise it for still zipping, still fleecing, still facing North.

The reason for this stylish little number is on account of another stylish little number: our new babydog Hugo, who joined our household last week. Hugo certainly wasn’t part of our plan so soon after we lost our beloved Fitz, but a very sad Tilly made this new addition the right thing to do — and, we’re learning, for us.

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To make a point

I’m going to date myself pretty badly here, but remember when you were a kid in school and your pencil went dull? If you were a vain child like I was, it bothered you a lot. Suddenly, your pretty cursive (Your grand capital G! Your elegant capital S!) looked mushy. The lead on the page was faded. But you had a whole paragraph to write about tectonic plates and, other than the continents themselves, that wasn’t going anywhere.

So you would look in your pencil case to discover the rest of your options were likewise subpar. Also dull. Too short. Missing an eraser or, worse, sporting the kind of eraser that, if used, enhanced rather than erased your mistake. Yes, there was your shiny Lisa Frank pencil, but she was unsharpened and would stay that way because you were saving her.

You thought about how long it had been since you’d made a trip to the pencil sharpener. You knew your teacher, Mme. Martel, didn’t like the kids who made them too often. But it had been a few days.

So, you got up, you went to the back of the classroom. And, honey, you felt yourself relax.

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A few of my favorite 2020 things

The other day, I was in Gucci Kroger’s adjacent liquor store to buy a bottle of bourbon.

After I made my purchase, I peeked into Gucci Kroger itself to see what was what. Low and behold, the grocery store was nearly empty, with a clear, wide path toward the cheese counter. So, I adjusted my mask. I fluffed up my grey hair. I decided, on the spot, I was going cheese shopping.

For eight glorious minutes, I picked up and sniffed wedges. I debated on crackers. I considered quince. I settled on four selections, two bloomy and soft, two hard and nutty.

After six months of soulless ClickList, it felt like the most luxurious eight minutes of 2020.

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Movies for Christmas

“So, we’ll watch Elf tonight?”

These words came from my husband this morning as I was blearily spreading Vegemite on toast. I blinked hard and shook my head. Was William actually asking to watch a Christmas movie? Was he planning in advance what movie we would watch?

For the thousandth time this year, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake.

But post-pinch, there he was with an expectant look on his face.

“So, Elf then?”

I nodded and handed him his lunch kit.

When it comes to Christmas, people tend to get separated into two camps on a number of topics. Colored lights vs. white lights. Fake tree vs. real tree. One tree vs. five trees. Kenny & Dolly Christmas vs. Mariah Carey Christmas. Turkey vs. ham vs. rib roast. Cheese ball vs. …

Never mind. Everyone agrees on a good cheese ball.

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These angels among us

A few nights ago, we were sitting in the living room when a car pulled into our driveway unexpectedly. Seeing its lights, my instinct was to look around for a place to cower. Being part Grinch and full introvert, I never expect something good will come from an unexpected visit. If I’m honest, I always fight the worry that someone weird is going to come to the door and try to sell me something.

Soon, though, those feelings evaporated and were replaced with ones of pure affection. For it was then that the incredible Meg emerged from her car swinging a festive Christmas bag.

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