As a social creature who’s been surrounded by people, lots of people, social distancing takes some getting used to. I’m a hugger, hand shaker and cheek busser. However, now is not a time to do any of those things which have been so important to me and the people I care so deeply about.
What I’m doing to remain connected is to cook simply for my family and to share with a few elderly (that is, people not much older than me) friends. Food is love and in times of distress, have brought me and my loved ones comfort.
During the New York City blackout of 1977, we lost electricity at home; however, we did have a gas stove which sat idly in our basement laundry room. That thing was there for years and my mother always said it would stay there just in case we ever needed it. She was right. We needed it and it didn’t let us down. She prepared meals for our family and neighbors. Thank goodness also for the ginormous deep freezer in the basement which held vegetables, homemade ice cream and fresh bluefish and porgies which my Dad had caught earlier that summer. Mom also canned food and we had a large garden which sustained us.
Mom was an incredible scratch cook who could take a little of this and a little of that and make a meal. I learned well. I am cooking out of my pantry and freezer (vacuum sealed foods like these peaches from Rittman Orchards) during this pandemic, which I’m fortunate to have. We’re comforted by rice and beans, slow cooked soups, stews and homemade bread.
My homemade soup prepared with vegetable stock, kale, and mixed vegetables was a welcome blessing this past weekend. In a large deep sided pot, sauté 1 cup each diced onions, carrots and celery in a little olive oil until tender—about 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger to the pot. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme. Add 4 cups vegetable (or chicken stock) stock and a can of white beans (this is what I had on hand) to the pot and stir gently. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. You can mash some of the cooked beans into the soup with the back of a spoon to make it more stew like. Add 1 cup thinly sliced kale or spinach to the pot and continue to simmer on low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
The world is upside down and I’m praying for all of us to return to being upright, although that may not be possible. I am heeding precautions for vigilant self care so I don’t have to end up as an additional statistic on our strained healthcare system, placing needed boundaries around constant “breaking” news and practicing social distancing. Sending love to all of you. ❤️