We’re bidding good-bye to quarantine week 7 as many of you begin the re-entry process to new-normal. What will that look like? No one knows. How do you recalibrate a World? Life is like sports, (I’m paraphrasing author Isabel Allende now ) “you train and train and train to develop the muscle that will allow you to play the game.”
On my return from Paris in mid-March, if you recall, I was required to quarantine for two weeks. When that ended, having no virus symptoms, I moved back home to The Gant. As the whole country was sheltering-in-place, I at least was sheltering in my own home. Closing in on my ninth week of self-isolation, here’s some food for thought and food, two 100%-guaranteed-to-please recipes.
Having always been comfortable with my own company even I wondered what this forced solitude would be like. Not a good feeling to watch Life spin out of control. Right? This is not the first time my Life’s taken a spin so I pulled up old coping tricks and added these new ones. Realizing that most of you have more responsibilities than I, hoping you can adjust them to work for you…
- I can’t solve/control world problems nor America’s but it’s normal to be devastated by lives lost and so much more. As a news junkie and 24/7 social media follower, the constant barrage I inflicted on myself gave a negative twist to each day. So, Full Stop. Relying on NPR and PBS.
- Many of us are stressed about our future. #MeToo. I anticipate lifestyle adjustments. What they will be? Who knows. But what they can be is another question. You may find this silly but it works.
I am a visual learner. In the past I’ve developed ideas and made life-changing decisions based on vision boards I’ve created. To lower stress about the future, could I visualize the possibilities? It’s inspiring, empowering and helps me believe I have some control over what’s ahead.
To create a vision board you need a table, supplies and oodles of magazines. Last week a friend dropped off a 6’ table which I wedged into my office corner. I pulled out boxes of my crafting materials from storage and friends are supplying magazines and magazines and magazines.
Of all the things I would be doing this summer, making a Vision Board wasn’t on the list.
- My condo is 950 square feet. Since I’m my only amusement, I re-invented that 950′ space into a happier, user-friendly home. My dining room table is my Jigsaw Puzzle Station. A tiny second bathroom is Disinfectant Central. If your perfume-of-choice is not Clorox, don’t venture near. I’ve made my kitchen appliances more available by moving them onto the counter. Nothing says ‘Make Cookies’ like having your KitchenAid Mixer front and center. My Office now shares its space with an Arts & Crafts Station and a Yoga mat. Girl just gotta have fun.
4.There is great media entertainment available. Some of my favorites are: Documentaries: Losing Sight of Shore and How the Wild West was Won with Ray Means (Amazon) and Chasing Coral (Netflix); Books to Read in May: Women on Food , Grinnell and American Dirt; Podcasts: The Reith Lectures, BBC4 (begin with Hilary Mantel’s lectures and then, Jonathan Sumption). LINK below.
SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHIP/PEANUT BUTTER CHIP COOKIES
by Marisin McLain, adapted from Deb Perleman
Last year Charlotte McLain mentioned to me that her 12-year old granddaughter, Marisin, had just baked the best cookies she’d ever tasted. Char is no slouch in the kitchen herself so if she says “the best,” it’s a cookie worth meeting. Marisin, already a talented cook and baker, agreed to share.
These Sea Salt Chocolate/Peanut Butter Chip Cookies are adapted from a Deb Perelman recipe. I’ve baked these cookies twice and do agree with Marisin’s grandmother. What a great tasting cookie.
Deb first posted this recipe on her wildly successful Smitten Kitchen blog in 2015. It’s still popular, withstanding the test of time. After my first batch, I substituted 1/2 peanut butter chips instead of all chocolate. I still have white chocolate, creme de menthe and butterscotch chips in the pantry for future baking. Thank you, Marisin.
Yield: Approximately 18 to 24 cookies
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw, you can use more brown or white if you don’t have this but the subtle crunch it adds is delightful)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (if in High Altitude use King Arthur’s or Hungarian High Altitude Flour)
1/2 pound semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife (or use 4 oz. of chocolate and 4 oz. of another flavor of your choice))
Flaky sea salt, to finish (My favorite is Maldon)
- Heat oven to 360°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in salt fine sea or table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point.
- With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.
- Scoop cookies into 1 1/2 tablespoon (I used a #40 cookie/ice cream scoop) mounds, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.
- Bake for 11 to 12 minutes (WATCH CAREFULLY. MY COOKIES TOOK FROM 13-14 MINUTES. I ALSO FLIP THE COOKIE SHEET HALFWAY THROUGH BAKING.) until golden on the outside, firm to the soft touch, but still very gooey and soft inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.
Extra dough can be formed into scoops and frozen on a sheet until solid, then transferred to a freezer bag. Baked right from the freezer with 1 minute more baking time. You could also form them into a 2-inch log, freeze it, and slice and bake the cookies off as desired. The only difference Deb noted between the cookies baked right away and those baked a day or more later is that the older cookie dough is less puffy when baked.
TIME to TRY RED LENTILS
TURKISH RED LENTIL SOUP by Christopher Kimball, Milk Street Tuesday Nights cookbook
Yes, yes, I know it is hot, very warm in many parts of the country. This magical and robust soup is more rich risotto-y than soupy and could be served just warmed or at room temperature. Sprinkle mint leaves and croutons on top and serve with lemon wedges and yogurt on the side. Or add wilted spinach or arugula (Loved that.) and a dollop of yogurt with grated garlic. Or add crumbled cauliflower, chopped tomatoes, diced cook beets or crispy bits of bacon for a different flavor.
(Note: The soup can be made vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter.)
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 medium yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch dice (about one cup)
1 medium garlic clove, finely diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
11/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup red lentils (washed, if necessary)
2 tablespoons long-grain white rice
5 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional: to add heat)
chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
lemon wedges, to serve
- In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Once it has stopped foaming, add the onion then sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste, paprika and cumin, then sauté for 1 minute. Add the lentils, rice, water and 2 teaspoons salt, then bring to a boil.
Adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and broken down, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature after drizzling oil lightly over each bowl of soup.
Be Safe, Everyone.