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Bread And Butter: Pandemic Cooking

Lael Gilbert: So I was asked recently how this whole pandemic experience has changed food in our house. So the one big thing that I've noticed is that, for most of my married life, I have been the lead for planning, prep and cooking for the family. Before the pandemic, my husband would jump in from time to time, but that has really shifted. 

Jenn Ashton: So what does it look like now? 


LG: So my husband has taken on the responsibility of planning and I'm really out of the loop. Which I don't know. At first, I didn't think I would mind at all. And I really actually, to be honest, I don't mind it because I have been doing this for so long. And as any parent knows, one of the hardest things is to think of new foods to eat every single evening.

JA: Not even just new foods, but foods that will be eaten by most members of the family enough to sustain life. 


LG: Exactly. And so I don't mind letting that go. But it's just kind of a strange reflection of how over the years, you know, how it is feeding a family, your kids complain about your food, and you say, “Listen, this is my service to you. Just eat it.” Now people are saying that to me. 

My husband enjoys eating solid meat and potatoes. And so we eat a lot more of that than if I were preparing meals. And I think I would go more towards the roast vegetables and fresh fruit. And he's just happy with his meat and potatoes. 

JA: Oh, we also with the pandemic have found new and interesting ways to enjoy certain food that's been around for a while but has grown. Like, we've gone to the next level within the last year. So I've got one word for you. 

LG: Oh, what's that? 

JA: Sandwiches. Here's a few. I found a couple that have become our favorites. So they've been integrated into our just everyday fare. One is chickpea salad sandwiches. 


LG: Really? Okay. You have young kids.

JA: Right. And you can fool them sometimes. You can't fool them into thinking chickpeas is chicken, although they do sound similar. So a chickpea salad sandwich is just essentially a chicken salad recipe but you substitute smashed chickpeas for it. 

LG: So what spices are going there? So you have a little bit of a cream base with like, what mayo? 

JA: Yeah, you might have your mayo, it depends on what you usually put in; if you like a mustard as well. I love, kind of, grapes and green onions and celery, and then anything else that you usually put into a chicken salad. 

LG: That sounds delicious. 

JA: And you put it in very good on croissants. It can work on bread as well. Lots of lettuce on there.


Another meatless option is, well I told my husband we should start calling it pesto masato; make it sound fancier. But it's essentially just a good bread with pesto on it. Then tomato and fresh mozzarella, it has to be fresh mozzarella that you cut into a slice, put those together and put it in a panini press. Or if you're like me, and you don't have a Panini press, the waffle maker and you just smashed it down. It makes this perfectly melted. We also call it the tri-color sandwich because it looks like the Italian flag with those colors. I mean, it's almost every time we go to the store and get good bread, we'll make that sandwich for dinner. 

LG: Okay, I have a few comments here. Number one, I speak Italian. That is not Italian. 


JA: Okay, what would you call it?

LG: I don't know. Don't put me on the spot. Number two, so when you say fresh mozzarella, you're talking the buffalo mozzarella, the white balls that sometimes come in the way and sometimes come just in packages, but that they're really soft?  And number three, seriously, a waffle iron? 

JA: Oh, yes. It works good in a pinch. Panini’s a wonderful word to say. But, how many tools do we need in our kitchens, right? And so if something else will work or just on a grill top, you can do it. It's just you're looking for just some of that melt to happen.