Sheltering in Place

 

 

Today, When I Could Do Nothing

by Jane Hirshfield (for the SF Chronicle)

Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.

I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
time,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer — warm —
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?

It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom—
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.

Just a Spoonful of Water Makes It Better

In this time of separate and distant, as we try to cope with not meeting our favorite person for coffee and cake, or connecting with a like-minded group to discuss a book over food relevant to the plot, I scurried to find store bought cookies to ease me into comfort.

Ah, but to venture into a store was to risk contagion, despite the plastic screens in front of the cashiers at Whole Foods and the yellow tapes marking six foot distance.  Not many millennials venture in, but when they do, their sense of immortality tends to drive them to ignore science-based suggestions.  I could order cookies from Amazon, but then I would need to wipe down the cartons inside and out, and those handiwipes are precious, better saved for my hands when needed.

A friend, noting my dilemma, suggested I make my own cookies.  I always have a stash of semi-sweet chocolate and sugar.  Recently, I had bought a ten pound bag of organic flour on sale – before I knew I would be housebound.  Why not make the most comfort laden food I knew.  And, I could control everything in the process, in a time when control of anything seems almost impossible, from the dough to the oven to the delivery – without packaging.

Toll House Cookies

If you have made the traditional Toll House cookies lately from the recipe on the bag, you may have noticed the teaspoon of hot water has been omitted from the ingredients.  Originally the water was used to dissolve the baking soda, a step most modern bakers no longer use.  Earlier forms of leavening, including baking soda, were chunkier than now, and a little water helped to keep out the granular specks.

I’m not sure when it disappeared from the wrapper, bu I still add it.  Does it make a difference?  I’ve never tried making the cookies without it, so cannot judge, but if you have, let me know.

The Sidecar

Ever since I read Zachary’s favorite drink in The Starless Sea is the sidecar, I’ve wanted to try one. Not complicated to make, the drink has only three ingredients. Zach liked it without the sugar rimming the glass, so I decided I could do without too.

I finally made one and loved it. The sidecar may be my new go to drink. Have you had one?

Have you read the book? Here’s my review:

The Starless Sea

And here’s the recipe I used:

  • 2 ounces Cognac
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice (the squeeze of a quarter lemon)

Continue reading

Nov

Pat Prager’s Private Recipe Dessert from Kitchens of the Great Midwest

In J. Ryan Stradel’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a hometown cook successfully beats out more sophisticated chefs in a prestigious cooking contest with her simple five ingredient recipe.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Pat Prager’s Award Winning Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup melted Grade A butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon Grade A butter

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs. melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Put into a greased 9×12 inch pan. Melt the chips and butter and spread them on top of the bars. Set into the refrigerator until firm. Cut into bars.