Good morning. How’s it going for you right now, where you stay? It’s unsettling, what’s happening in our nation and across the world, and it’s maybe super-unsettling what’s happening in your neighborhood, your village, your building, your apartment, your head. Loads of people are sitting scared, some frozen, unsure what to do besides look at screens. Will it be worse tomorrow, or just the same?
The answer’s in the kitchen, I’m certain. Many have stockpiled for weeks of social distancing, if the shelves at the market are any indication. They’ve hunkered down. And perhaps you have, too. I hope so. The time to make the most of it is now.
You can cook for yourself, naturally. There’s something calming about frying an egg and a tangle of greens, combining them on top of a warm tortilla, dabbing some hot sauce on top and rolling yourself a late breakfast or brunch-like lunch, in advance of a Slack meeting or video conference call, if you’re privileged enough to be able to do that. (It’s a pretty good feed for those commuting to the job site as well.) Here’s a sandwich: peanut butter and kimchi. Here’s some black bean soup (above). It’ll last you all week.
But the thing that will make you feel better — the action that will apply balm to your worry, the practice that will result in good — is to cook for others, for those close to you, and those close by, even if you need to keep six feet away from them.
Maybe you could cook for St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, leave some corned beef on the doorstep of a neighbor you know is keeping clear of the crowds. Maybe you could do the same on St. Joseph’s Day on Thursday as well, if only because so many of us have pasta, sardines, bread crumbs and capers in the larder. They make for a very good meal. And, of course, there are beans to simmer, always, as if this was what we’ve always done on weekdays in advance of supper: baked in the Boston manner; souped up in the Cuban one; braised with milk and garlic to approximate Nirvana. (Here’s everything we know about how to cook beans.)
Days like these lend themselves to the art of what’s called procrastibaking. (Anxiety baking may be the better term of art these days.) You might make this rosemary, olive oil and orange cake. Or this awesome lemon-spice visiting cake simply because you have no visitors, and can eat it in the bath.
Spinach and cilantro soup with tahini and lemon could make for a fine dinner this week. So, too, this spicy bacon and egg pie. Then it’ll be the Persian New Year on Friday: We’ve got plenty recipes for that and maybe chief among them Samin Nosrat’s recipe for herbed rice with tahdig. Could you make that? With her incredible herb, bean and lamb stew — khoresh-e ghormeh sabzi — which some call Iran’s national dish? Yes, please, with leftovers for the days that follow.
There are thousands and thousands of other recipes waiting for you on NYT Cooking. You do need a subscription to access a lot of them, but not all. (Here, for instance, are 30 recipes that’ll result in a superior lunch at home.)
Melissa Clark is cooking from her pantry and writing about that for The Times. (She’ll post new ideas every weekday.)
Meanwhile, we’re standing tall for the delicious and the beautiful on our Instagram page, and trading strategies for pantry cooking on Facebook (join our community group there, if you like). We publish superfun videos on YouTube! And we link to our reporting on Twitter. (I’m out there, too: @samsifton.) Come visit.
And please do ask for help if anything goes wrong while you’re surfing or cooking. We’re at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you.
You on this new season of “Babylon Berlin,” on Netflix?
Sick of TV? Michael Connelly’s “The Night Fire” is plenty entertaining!
Finally, let me know what you’d like to know in coming days from this newsletter. I can post links to the hilarious and the kind and the informative and the fantastic until the cows come home. But if you want to learn, say, how to make pizza or how to get involved in the kombucha lifestyle, how to make a soufflé or how to use an Instant Pot, I’m here for you, too. This is a service gig I’m involved in here. I’m here to serve. Let me know: email@example.com. See you on Wednesday!