My Pandemic Diary, Entry #7

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #7

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

Happy Monday.  It’s a soft, gray day but at least the rain seems to have stopped.

It was no surprise that Governor Cuomo yesterday extended what New York State is calling the “pause” to April 15 and the Feds have extended “social curbs” and nonessential travel to at least the end of next month. Much of this was set to end this week, but I doubt anyone reading the news, let alone living in NYC, expected that would happen. The extensions mean that everything we’re doing now -- or not doing -- stays in place at least another 16 days.  Here’s a link to a page at with the latest rules, updates on testing sites, and other useful information, including a support hotline if you need someone to talk to.  

Having someone to talk to is always important but right now, it’s vital.  While doing FaceTime or Zoom lets us be together, I think sometimes the faceless intimacy of a phone conversation with someone we know can be more powerful. I’ve had days that have darkened even my characteristic optimism and what has lifted the shadows has been calls with friends, not really to talk about our fears, but to find something to laugh about.

I keep a card sent to me by a girlfriend years ago on my desk bulletin board that shows a woman in bloomers, dancing joyously while above her head are the words, “Let’s get drunk and eat waffles.”  Sure it’s nonsensical, but it’s always been hysterical to me and fortunately it still is.  This journey is far from over, so reach out and talk with someone and laugh, even if we don’t have waffles.

Cooking and Groceries 

My refrigerator and freezer are beginning to look empty. Or emptier. Tomorrow morning I will make a very early visit to my neighborhood grocery store when I hope to do a major re-stocking, especially of produce and other perishables like milk and eggs.  I know this store gets a major delivery every Monday so I’m hoping the shelves will be full, but the store will be empty. I’m dreading the errand but it must be done. I’ll give you a report tomorrow.

Tonight’s dinner will a favorite recipe from Milk Street’s second cookbook, this one called Milk Street Tuesday Nights, which two years ago won the 2019 James Beard Award for best general cookbook. The book is named for a regular column in Milk Street’s magazine that features meals to make on busy weeknights. Tonight I’m going to make Parmesan and Herb Turkey Burgers.

One pound of ground turkey becomes four juicy and non-hockey-puck burgers because of the addition of 3/4 cup panko, 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 cup water, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and some chopped fresh herbs and scallions.  First you combine the panko, mayo and 1/2 cup of herbs (they call for mint and cilantro but I can’t eat cilantro so I sub with parsley; once I made it with thyme and parsley, another time 1 T of dried mint and 1/4 cup parsley) with about 1/4 cup of thin slices of the white part of scallions, plus some salt and pepper all in a food processor.  Process about 1 minute until smooth.

Combine this with the turkey, water, and Parmesan and with clean hands (which we know you certainly have by now) mix it all together and form into four 1/2-inch thick burgers (if you wet your hands just a bit it can make it easier to handle the loose turkey meat). Let rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes. When you’re ready to cook, heat a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the burgers and lower the heat to medium and brown, about five minutes, then flip and continue to cook until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 165° F.  Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

The recipe includes a dressing made with 5 tablespoons of mayo, 1 T of lime juice, and any remaining chopped herbs you may have. More cilantro or parsley, mint, chives, or scallions would all be nice. The tang of the lime juice is particularly tasty. Serve with or without a bun. I like without.

Tonight I plan to serve this with my last box of baby arugula dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Plus I have some cherry tomatoes that are showing their age so I will cook them in a little olive oil until they’re jammy, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes, and serve this on top of the burgers like a relish instead of making the mayo/lime juice dressing.

Pandemic Tip

I came across a calculator that can compute what your economic stimulus check will be. This is a very simple calculator and can’t account for special circumstances, nor does it answer questions, but I thought it was handy enough to pass along.  Plus it’s by Kiplinger which is a respected media site.

Stay safe and make a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough



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