Good morning. How are you holding up? Millions and millions are at home this week, sheltered in place, self-quarantined, working remotely, home-schooling, feeding one another soups and sandwiches, keeping panic at bay. Others have headed into work at the hospital or police station, the plant, the supermarket. There are people collecting garbage, building things, reporting, checking on livestock, on parishioners, harvesting oysters, delivering food, operating trains. In New York City, at any rate, there’s a brittle, nervous vibe in the air. This is a most terrible time.
I’m here just to say, quietly, that deliciousness is possible against the backdrop of a national emergency, and that it matters to discover that’s the case, for deliciousness improves moods, and inspires hope. Deliciousness sends a message. Someone cares. That’s as true if you’re making a chocolate-chip cookie pizza with the children as if you’re laying waste to the pantry to create a timpano you’ll eat for a week. So, please, cook this week as much as you can, and reap the rewards in good humor and a little relief: At least we have this.
It’s pretty cool, what you can make from the larder. This week for The Times, I wrote about the joys of canned fish, and about a recipe for soba noodles, tuna and a Japanese-style dressing (above) that’s like a tuna wiggle for grown-ups, a salad that’s as fantastic served room temperature as hot. Maybe you could try that for lunch today, for dinner, for tomorrow.
You could make beans, and you ought to! Melissa Clark wrote on the subject for the newspaper we printed last night and sent out to subscribers and news agents today; it served as an introduction to her invaluable guide, “How to Cook Beans,” on NYT Cooking. You could end up serving this smoky, cheesy, spicy black bean bake. Or this simple repast of beans on toast. (You don’t even really need a recipe! Try these two paragraphs of inspiration on for size, and then get cranking.)
Other pantry-ish ideas for the middle of the week: root vegetable soup; ramen carbonara; marinara; biscuits that you could pair with sliced ham or fried chicken cutlets, with slices of Cheddar, with sausage gravy.
And don’t forget rice. Rice is great with beans, of course. But a bowl of warm, plain rice, a pat of butter, a splash of soy sauce? That’ll change the color of your mood ring, if you’ve never had the combination before.
There are thousands and thousands of actual recipes waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Come visit and see what you find.
Meantime, we’re still trying to make sense of the world on our Instagram page, and talking about it with subscribers and friends on Facebook (come join our community group). You can watch us do our thing on YouTube. And we link to all of our reporting for The Times on Twitter. (I’m out there, too: @samsifton.) Come see us. Social media is social distance!
And, of course, we’re still monitoring our inbox just as hawks watch the prairie. If you run into trouble with your cooking or with our technology, all you need do is send us a note. We’re at email@example.com. We will get back to you.
Now, in these trying times, we need as much solace outside of the kitchen as in it. Dwight Garner’s review of Ben Katchor’s new “The Dairy Restaurant” gave me a little. I’ve been waiting for just such a book since Katchor was drawing “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer,” for NYPress (my first newspaper!) in the 1990s.
Need a new mystery series to read? Hop in the wayback machine and start at the beginning with Detective John Rebus, in Ian Rankin’s “Knots and Crosses,” from 1987. There are 21 more where that came from!
Here’s Richard Prince, new portraits at Gagosian in Los Angeles, but read the “About” essay and see what you think. (It made me want to drive to Los Angeles and see the works up close.)
Finally, yes, I think you should watch “The Valhalla Murders,” on Netflix. Do that and I’ll be back on Friday. Stay safe.