It’s come to this. Three weeks ago I stood at my kitchen sink having my first cup of coffee and heard myself say, “I am just so over you, Mary. You don’t make me laugh anymore.”
First, here’s to acknowledging I may be losing my mind. Or, since what’s said out loud carries more power than just thinking it, I obviously wanted Me to hear it.
Let’s just leave it here. My laughter soundtrack needs maintenance. Got it.
During the past 345 days of pandemic restrictions, I’ve finally caught up with myself, checking off those pesky chores and irritating to-do’s long needing my attention. Finally the unread New Yorker magazines are trashed, my storage unit is almost laid bare and there’s a re-do in progress at my Gant condo. At some point during those 8,280 hours I apparently lost my Joy and parked my Sense of Humor. During this very somber and sad time, we still need to smile. Do you agree? Let’s try.
Joke to My Gant Family: “If you would like to know how it feels to be in hospitality during the corona virus pandemic: Remember when the Titanic was sinking and the Band continued to play? Well, we’re the band…..”
Last week I received my second vaccine shot. Age shoved me to the head of the line and Pfizer-BioNTech delivered the two life-saving jabs that went into my arm. Bravo to scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, the brains behind the world’s first effective Covid vaccine. Bravo times two because I no longer need my Hazmat suit for Clara’s high school graduation!
JOKE: “Sometime I wonder if all this is happening because I didn’t forward that e-mail to 10 People.”
In time, everyone will have their own vaccination story. This is mine. With less than six million people, Colorado, ranked #12 in quality health care*, is arguably more manageable than, for example, California (40 million) or New York (20 million). Last March 14th, the same night I landed in Aspen after evacuating from Paris, Governor Jared Polis closed down the state’s ski resorts bringing the High Country’s major economic engine to a full stop. When the taxi driver picked me up at the airport, he was totally chagrined. “I don’t know how I’m going to buy food,” he said.
Gov. Polis has been righting the ship ever since. Ya gotta support a politician who last May hid a shipment of tests and PPE because he was ‘worried the federal government or somebody else would take them.’ That’s the type of guy most Coloradans can get behind.
JOKE: “Really wish we had a dog right now but then I remember that old slogan, a dog is for life, not just for a global pandemic.”
Although I’m in Boulder now, friends kept me in the loop so I could sign up when the vaccination registration link went on line. Three weeks later, bingo, I had a shot slot.
The most unnerving part of this three-week seamless process was the road trips. Snow is always an issue in the mountains. It’s a 210-mile trip from Boulder to Aspen. The weather gods were kind for Shot #1. Slushy roads, I can handle. For Shot #2, Mother Nature was grumpy. The mountains had a glorious 14 to 20-inch dump the day before and there were still flurries so yep, ice and snow. Three plows escorted me and others over Vail Pass. On the trip home there was more snow. Contending with 110 or so trucks required to “Chain Up,” made for a white-knuckle drive. When conditions merit the chains, these big guys have to be maneuvered off and back on the Interstate during the 127-mile stretch through the Eisenhower Tunnel and over Vail Pass. I have a healthy respect for 18 wheelers. They win. In the end, however, safely back in Boulder, mission accomplished. Grateful.
JOKE: “In Germany they are preparing for the covid crisis by stocking up with sausage and cheese. That’s the Wurst Käse scenario.”
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
What to do with three ripe bananas? Banana bread? Nah. Smoothie? Not today. Try this Banana-Peanut Butter Sundae. Or Split. No ice cream or yogurt needed. Just pantry and fridge staples. Decadence personified.
I never made pudding from scratch. Hello, Jell-O brand. Then I met Dorie’s Dark Chocolate Pudding. Dorie has been updating and improving this pudding recipe since Paris Sweets, a cookbook she published in 2002. She’s nailed it. That’s all I need to say.
BANANA ICE CREAM by Cooking for One, America’s Test Kitchen
SERVES: 1 or 2
3 very, ripe bananas, peeled, bagged and put in freezer
1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1. Freeze bananas until solid, at least 8 hours
2. Let bananas sit at room temperature to often slightly, about 15 minutes. 3. Slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place in blender, food processor or Immersion Blender. Add cream, vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. (Note: To make it chocolate, add some unsweetened cocoa powder with bananas.) Process until smooth, about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer mixture to airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Ice cream can be frozen for up to one week.
5. Serve, topped with sprinkles, topping sauce (hot or cold) and a cherry.
TIPS: 1) Substitute canned coconut milk to make it vegan or plant-based creamer for the cream. 2) Optional: In Step 2, For various flavoring, add about 3-4 tablespoons of peanut butter or Nutella and/or stir in nuts or unsweetened cocoa powder.
DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING
1½ cups whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
¼ pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and warm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
1.Combine milk and cream in a heavy saucepan. Heat on stove over medium heat just until bubbles start to form at the edges.
2. While the milk and cream are heating, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt together in a medium large pan. Whisk in the egg and egg yolks until well combined.
3. Place the bowl on a kitchen towel or potholder to keep it from moving. Pour about a quarter of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling.Pour in the rest of the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and return to the stove, cooking over medium heat while whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, whisking constantly to prevent burning, until very thick.
5. Pour through strainer into bowl. Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and butter and whisk until combined and very smooth.
6. As a last step, run a handheld immersion blender a few times through the pudding to further smooth and to aerate slightly. You can also run through a food processor briefly.
7. Pour pudding into individual cups or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 4 hours, until set.
*Stats by US New & World Report