My Pandemic Diary, Entry #34

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #34

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

Today is Sunday, another gray day that has the threat of rain.  I’m trying to not fill the day with work so that I can have time to read and at 7:00 pm, Mark and I will have our weekly glass of wine with our California friend, Helene.

Yesterday while Mark and I were doing our chores, we also watched most of the live Met Opera At-Home Gala, done entirely remotely from around the world. The Times also wrote about it this weekend. If you’re reading this on Sunday, April 26, you can watch a rerun until 6:30 EDT tonight at the Met’s website. For opera lovers, this event was simply terrific and spirited and joyous. Although I do love opera, it took hearing American tenor Matthew Polenzani sing Danny Boy to make me collapse into a puddle of tears. It wasn’t the first time I’ve cried since this crisis began, but it was the most complete release I've had, undoubtedly because of that song, written by Frederic Weatherly in 1913 and set to a traditional Londonderry Air during the Irish diaspora.The lyrics are thought to be as a letter to a son at a time when young men left their families for America, never to be seen again. It is such a tender prayer of love and loss and it made me weep for all of us. 

Because music can be such a profound comfort and inspiration, one other classical music event I'm looking forward to is pianist Jeremy Denk's second of three lectures about Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier tomorrow night, April 27, at 7:00 pm. It was supposed to have been a series done at NYC’s The Greene Space, but he’s now doing it live while sitting at his piano at home. This series is for those who love Bach and the classical piano repertoire and want to know it better, and while it’s not a concert per se, Denk is a natural teacher and this format really works for him. There’s more information at  

Aside from listening to and thinking about music and washing floors, the other thing I accomplished yesterday was to fix the Time Machine on my computer. My Mac is still wounded and limping and we still have some repairs to make, but for now it’s back on its legs and most important, its daily back-up is working. I spent about an hour on the phone with another splendid and smart “genius” at Apple named Eric who was a fixer in the best sense of that word and I’m very grateful. And relieved.

Cooking and Groceries

I’ve finished my shopping list for tomorrow’s grocery run. It’s almost entirely fruits and vegetables, plus the usual replacements, like milk, yogurt, and salsa. I’m also going to get (I hope) cornmeal to both help with baking bread and also to make polenta, as well as white vinegar and extra milk because I’d like to make my own ricotta. 

Last night's dinner was my little lamb roast and I was so very happy with the results. In yesterday’s diary I had all the details on how to stuff it with spinach and feta cheese but because I hadn't yet cooked it, the only photo I had was of the roast still in its plastic wrapping. I've now added more pictures so that you can actually see what it looked like just before it went into the oven. We ate about half of it and will have the leftovers in the coming week.

Tonight we’ll have the last of that 9-pound ham (finally!). I’m going to make the Ina Garten recipe for bow tie pasta with lemon and broccoli and will add pieces of ham to that, making it a more substantial main course. I’ll also make a salad with what’s left of my romaine and radicchio, so it will be a real empty-the-refrigerator meal.

Pandemic Tips

On the subject of facial masks -- I don’t know where Mark read this, but it’s been suggested that sleep masks, like the kind you might be given on an international flight, can be used as or adapted into face masks. It will depend upon the size of the sleep mask and the size of your face, and you may need to adjust the elastic so that the bottom fits snugly because otherwise you’ll be breathing not through, but around, the fabric. I think a better use is to wear the sleep mask on your face, and then tie a bandana over it to both keep it in place while also completely covering your lower face. We’re experimenting while we continue to wear the original masks Mark made for us and to also search for the right kind of masks to buy.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough




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