My Pandemic Diary, Entry #35

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #35

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

It’s Monday, April 27.  I started this Pandemic Diary 35 days ago, publishing it on and also emailing it to my newsletter subscribers. But after the first ten entries, I stopped sending it out because at the time, when it was still early in the stay-home world, there was a cacophony of incoming media and while most of it was trying to help, much of it wasn’t sure-footed and only seemed to add to the stress. Some of my long-time subscribers began to cancel and I worried that I was adding to the noise so I stopped the mailing. But I kept writing.

Since then, the initial rush of media has slowed and at the same time, a number of you have asked me to again send my diary directly to your mailboxes. So I’m going to re-start the newsletter version of the diary as it was initially conceived -- a daily communication to anyone who is curious about how one city cook is managing her domestic life and making dinner as we all take this extraordinary journey.

One other change that just occurred yesterday is that I’ve had to close the Contact portal at because of abusive messages. We think it’s part of a spam campaign and most of it appears to be from Russia. It's actually been going on for a while in fits and starts, but the intrusion has recently become much worse. I regret having to temporarily block messages from people I want to hear from, but it's sadly similar to the same reason I’ve never taken comments at my website:  the Internet, for all its transformative possibilities, is also the means for toxicity and crime. I have found that people are mostly interesting, engaging and kind, but some are just downright awful and their behavior crowds out the good.

But it was for the good that I created The City Cook fourteen years ago and it’s been a gift and a privilege to meet and write for other home cooks like you, especially at a time like now, when the world is unsteady and when each of us is just trying to get through the day and have some joy and love in our lives. Thank you for that privilege. 

Cooking and Groceries

This morning I did another of my pre-dawn grocery runs and it had been ten days since the last one. I bought less than on previous shops because I have so loaded up my freezer and pantry. I seem to still have slight hoarder tendencies which reveal themselves as when I buy two of what I need when one will do. 

Today I mostly bought fruits and vegetables. My grocer was rather short on greens but I did get both broccoli rabe and Tuscan kale. No spinach. I bought very nice carrots, salad makings, and even though they didn’t look fabulous, I got a big bag of green beans because I know I can blister cook them which is a way of caramelizing the beans with just a little bit of water and olive oil which can tenderize and make delicious even the most thread-y bean. I’ll detail that technique – which is also great when your beans are a bit old – the day I cook them.

I got the yellow corn meal I wanted, a five-pound bag of all-purpose flour, eggs, cottage cheese, cheddar for cheeseburgers, pickles for Mark, milk to make ricotta (more on that when I make it later this week), and a nice piece of cod for our dinner tonight. There was no cream cheese this time, which has happened before; people must be having lots of bagels. And no yeast, even though this store has previously had lots of it. I noticed some prices were really high, especially for dairy products like yogurt, butter and cream. Eggs were a bit lower but still higher than they were before the pause. Aside from having to replenish the strawberries that Mark uses in his lunchtime protein drink, which we’ll buy from the sidewalk produce vendor, this morning’s shop should hold us for more than a week.

Tonight’s dinner will be that piece of cod, some leftover bow tie pasta and broccoli from last night, which at this point is more pasta than broccoli, and either kale or a salad which I'll decide at the last minute.

The other cooking I’ll do today will be to start the dough for a loaf of bread that I’ll bake tomorrow. The last loaf I made using the full two-rise technique for no-knead bread was so successful, I’m going to do a repeat, although because I now have some corn meal, I’m going to dust it with that instead of flour. The heel of the loaf still leftover from last week will become bread crumbs and part of the salmon burgers I have planned.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough



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