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COVID Cooking


In a world of Covid isolation, how has eating and cooking changed for you?


Here’s one thing for me… in my kitchen, every single one of my small appliances is clean – spotless. One by one I’ve pulled the old workhorses out from cupboards and spiffed them to their best state. The big Belgian waffle maker I bought ten years ago specifically because it had deep ridges and made four at a time? I carefully wipe down its heating plates, scrub the sticky oil residue from the underside, use a butter knife to scrape dry batter from deep within the badly-designed crevices, and remember this funny story … about how we were once at a yard sale when my toddler son opened a dirty old waffle maker sitting on the grass … with an old waffle still in it, and began eating.

So, I go and find that son, now a long-limbed 17-year-old, sitting conveniently two rooms away doing home school – or at least pretending to do it – and remind him that happened.

Then I return to the kitchen and wipe down the heavy stand mixer, using cotton swabs to clean remnants of loaves past from where the arm attaches to the body. I’ve descaled the electric kettle, chipped dried merengue from the hand mixer, scrubbed old smoothie from the blender, de-crumbed the bottom plate of toaster and collected all the wandering parts of the mandolin slicer – and wondered why we still have a mandolin slicer when my chef’s knife does the same job with fewer fingertips lost. But my husband bought the darn thing at one point, when he thought that we’d have French onion soup twice a week for the rest of our lives. So, I can’t yet add it to the growing pile sitting in my basement, waiting for the thrift store to reopen.

I examine the wheat grinder. It still has tags on it from when I bought it five or so years ago when I wanted to be better “prepared.” I don’t know for what. I do like baking with whole wheat flour, but I just buy it in bags from the grocery story. I sit on the tile floor in the kitchen and consider … if I’m not using this wheat grinder now, in this strange, slow-moving emergency, in what scenario, exactly, will I want to grind wheat? And then my mind goes to those scenarios and I start to feel panicky. And then I feel guilty about all the times I’ve laughed at preppers, and then angry at the “I told you so,” theme from those same annoying preppers that I’ve seen floating around the internet. And then sad. And I check our flour supply. We still have way more than we can use in a year, and I remind myself that I can still visit the grocery store whenever I want to, just carefully. I put the wheat grinder, tags and all, back into the cupboard.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually scrub the electric griddle for the first time -- in I don’t know how long, carefully keeping dry the electronic components, wiping it with a kitchen towel – and then super-gluing that handle that has been rattling loose for at least three years. Usually, I just swipe at it with a paper towel and shove it, still warm, back in the cupboard on busy mornings before I head to work.

Since everyone likes French toast, I put that on the menu for the following morning. From a spotless griddle, we eat French toast smothered in canned apple pie filling, and then we all clean up – everyone helps, because they have the time, and I have the attention to make them help – but I wipe down the griddle myself, and put it neatly back in the cupboard, ready for the next time.


I wonder about next time. I wonder how temporary all these changes will be. Is this short-term coping? Or long-term management of a changed schedule, shifting resources, a pivoting culture, a changed world? How has social isolation changed food and eating for you? Are you ordering takeout to support your local favorites? Making complex and time-consuming recipes you haven’t tried in years? Eating chips out of the bag? Digging deep into your pantry and creating what you can with black beans, canned peaches and no eggs?


Go to Bread and Butter and and let me know – if you have the time. I’d like to keep tabs on these changes, that might otherwise be lost in this quickly shifting, and slowly waiting, world.