As we close on the first quarter of 2022 (what?!) and move into quarter two, I am starting to reflect on what this year has been for me. I have taken the time to be grateful for all that I have and that my family and I are safe and well. My husband has worked from home over the last few years. Staying at home ALL the time wasn’t really a new thing for him. I was able to pivot and do a lot of things online — some days my schedule would be back-to-back Zooming; I’m sure you can relate (and by the way, did anyone know what Zoom was before this??).
The thing that I missed the most was sharing food. In every sense — baking for people and dropping off special treats with ease, accidentally discovered a new place that has some ah-mazing croissants, taking myself out for lunch. Huh, I just described my perfect day.
So I decided that I need to finally take stock of all the great things I HAVE gotten to eat, bake, cook, curbside/deliver during the pandemic. Here are a few of my favorite things that made the pandemic feel just a bit better.
This seems like it is too obvious or common. But listen, one of my greatest joys is eating a GREAT sandwich and drinking a cup of delicious coffee while sitting at some cafe. I couldn’t really do those things for the majority of 2020 and 2021. While things were thrown out of whack- I turned to the ritual of coffee more than ever.
Over the past few years, I have switched up my routine and drink 90 to 99 percent of my cups of Joe at home. The ubiquitous Bucks of Star isn’t my go-to place anyways. I try to support local, small businesses as much as I can, but I do love grabbing a cup in between one thing to the next. Now that many of my daily activities are still in hybrid mode — it feels nice and comforting to really have this ritual at home. I’m realizing it is more about the ritual itself than the actual coffee. Having that consistent ritual during an uncontrollable and uncertain felt grounding. But heck, aren’t we truly blessed that coffee just tastes so darn good? I am telling you, that first sip of that first cup… it’s like magic. No, it IS magic. Fellow caffeine lovers, you feel me?
Here are the coffee brands that really made my morning coffee ritual extra special:
BREAD (another duh)
I always try to make everything a challenge for myself; even when I don’t need to (this is a blessing and a curse) and trust me something I am working on in 2022! But I made it a point to keep our pantry and freezer stocked with copious amounts of bread. And I am happy to say quarantine challenged me to up my bread-making game.
Challah was my go-to choice for everyday bread. Its fluffy and sweet texture makes it perfect for sandwiches and especially, french toast. I started with one batch and it made enough for two big loaves. Or I can use it for one loaf and then a few hamburger buns (if you don’t know - challah makes AMAZING burger buns). I actually had great success freezing the bread and then reheating it when I needed it. Alternatively, a few times, I would dry out what I didn’t use to turn it into breadcrumbs -- It’s like a homemade version of Shake & Bake. There are so many ways to use and save bread, it is no wonder why it is a staple in every home and a must for me! I am NOT AFRAID of carbs! The best part about making your own bread? You feel super awesome knowing it’s your own homemade bread that you are eating. It brings me so much joy!
What do you know, yes I hopped on that sourdough train during quarantine. I finally got a successful starter going and made some delicious sourdough. The first time I tried, the crumb structure could have been open a little more but overall I was so happy with my first attempt. I almost did a decent scoring job, too. Unfortunately, the starter didn’t make it to 2021 (Rest In Peace), and I am still not confident enough to *start* another one in 2022. I have faith I’ll get there. My theory is that once I got it going, I took too long between feedings as I was keeping it in the fridge. I tried my hand at another starter using green apples to start but it just never fully got going the way I wanted. Now, I’m thinking I needed to use an organic apple. Does anyone know if that makes a difference? Leave a comment and let me know. Soon, I am hoping to venture down the sourdough path once spring officially hits when my window sill in the kitchen will be a little warmer and a happier place to ferment.
DAILY HARVEST SMOOTHIES
I was fortunate enough to be able to switch to grocery delivery and curbside pickup exclusively during the pandemic. Until Dec 2021, my last time food shopping IN a grocery store was March 15th. Beware the Ides of March. How true.
Living in the 21st century means it is easier than ever to get food delivered directly to your doorstep. However, during the first few months of the pandemic, it meant trying to get a spot on the delivery or pick-up schedule; which seemed impossible. (Remember no toilet paper?) And let’s be real honest, even though we weren’t supposed to leave our houses…sometimes it felt daunting to leave the house. Putting on real pants was definitely not something I was doing. All these things put together meant that noshing all hours of the day on comfort food was definitely a thing…which meant I couldn’t fit into real pants.
I was glad I found Daily Harvest pre-pandemic. At first, I felt kind of silly to have smoothies delivered to my door. I thought, “I can keep smoothie ingredients on hand and do it myself!” Did I mention I make everything a challenge? Really, though, having my Daily Harvest delivered each week, knowing I can skip a week or month at a time has been awesome and truly convenient. It is a time-saving and tasty solution! Honestly, it helped me recover from knee surgery in June 2020. I was on an all smoothie diet. The way Daily Harvest ships its smoothies is a three-step process:
The process was easy enough for my husband to throw it into a blender - with my special request of some collagen protein, and feed me through the reusable straw. (Thank you, honey)! Except there was that one time when he put a SAVORY Daily Harvest Bowl (yes, they have those too!) into the blender and served it to me. I was very surprised to get a chimichurri-flavored smoothie with chunks of couscous. Yes, I still drank it…he tried, and I am a good wife. Might be my next suggestion in Daily Harvest’s suggestion box.
So there ya have it. Two years into a global pandemic and I’m still so very grateful for these food items I get to enjoy each day.
Coffe. Bread. Smoothies.
I would challenge you to identify those three that made the pandemic just a bit better for you. Then begin to think of why and what they brought you. Warm and happy feelings? New memories? Comfort? Stability? My morning coffee ritual, creating delicious baked goods with my own two hands, and treating myself to a healthy and easy smoothie helped me to be present, in the moment. To enjoy the little things. If that’s not nourishing, I don’t know what is.
We are almost done with the first quarter of 2022, which blows my mind! Even though I am still having problems remembering what day it is, I am also mixing it up the year. Apart of me wants a do-over and another part is super excited to see what the future holds. These days, it feels harder to be sure.
What I am sure of is this: whether or not you are fully back to meeting everyone in person (re: in real pants) or are still feeling like all-day-virtual is the way to go…you should congratulate yourself for making it. To this very moment.
And maybe think about those three, five, or maybe 10 small things in your kitchen that have had a big impact on you over the last few years. Food comforts us for a reason. It’s food for the soul and it keeps us going. Literally. Give a little thanks. And maybe, the next time you experience one of your favorite food items, you’ll think of this post and remember all it has brought you.
Take in a big breath and perhaps a big bite.
All the juicy facts will be right here.