My Pandemic Diary, Entry #38

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #38

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

It’s a very rainy Thursday. Gloomy   is a word to describe it, the kind of day you’d rather curl up and read instead of sticking to our new-normal regimens. No walk today because of the weather and otherwise I'm busy enough with my usual bits of work, housekeeping, and cooking. I'm also behind in staying in touch with friends whom I'd rather call and hear their voices, than write emails or worse, texts. There's something about the minuscule-ness of texts -- tiny type and tiny keys -- that diminishes anything that you write. I understand their appeal and usefulness but as you may have noticed, I like a lot of words.

Yesterday I cleared the entire afternoon to deal with my Mac, expecting I’d be needing several hours to re-load apps and files and so on. Instead the patient died on the operating table. My Mac is kaput. Despite the Apple genius who was guiding me and making a we-won’t-give-up effort, by the time we did (give up), the hard drive was silent (there was none of that familiar start-up little clicking), the damn thing wouldn’t completely turn on, and even worse, it wouldn’t turn off. It was just as well that I’d planned to spend half the day dealing with my Mac because instead of the reassurance of watching your data move into a new home, I spent those hours investigating the costs and feasibility (hello NY State-mandated stay at home order) of getting it fixed versus replacing it. It turns out that some Apple-authorized repair places are open, so I was able to get a rough estimate of the repair cost I was facing. I made my decision about what to do when I learned it would be more than half the price of a new one. Plus Apple has free delivery.

In the meantime, my dear husband is letting me use his computer so I’m not out of business. But I will say that my desk chair is much more comfortable than his.

So to not only dwell on my problems, I wanted to pass along something I received from our treasured New York Public Library. I’ve had a library card for almost as long as I've lived in New York and over those years, I've spent many hours doing research in the Rose Reading Room, one of the most beautiful spaces in all of NYC. It’s a room that makes the case for not doing everything online or remotely because there is something transformative about touching the Library’s great books and treasures while sitting in such a noble room. I’m also on various of their mailing lists which they deploy more effectively than most. For example, they do a terrific book-of-the-day and manage to send out other timely and compelling mailings without a single ask for donations so when you do receive a request, it seems so deserving. I recently received one of the occasional and very thoughtful blast emails from the Library’s president, Tony Marx. It was one of his cheerleading letters, this one about the lions that sit at the entrance of the main library, on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street:

“During the Great Depression, Mayor LaGuardia named the beloved lions who guard our 42nd Street library Patience and Fortitude for the qualities he felt New Yorkers needed to get through a difficult time. That sentiment certainly rings true now. Just as the lions continue to stand strong and defiant, so will New York City.”

I always assume most New Yorkers knew the lions’ names but I never knew it was Mayor LaGuardia who named them and why. This just confirms for me that the Library does indeed know everything.

Cooking and Groceries

Due to my losing my mind yesterday afternoon, and given the choice between making a new recipe or having leftovers for dinner, we had leftovers. Mark was very good humored about having roast chicken two days in a row, but it warmed up very nicely, as did the lamb from last weekend. I was on my second glass of wine by the time we sat down to dinner and was happy just to be sitting across from him and talking about something that wasn’t named after a fruit.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but if I have, it might be worth repeating. When it comes to reheating foods, the microwave is a terrible way to do it. By the time your food has become warm, it will also have been cooked more. It might also only be warm in part and not entirely. I think a microwave is good for reheating coffee, melting butter, maybe steaming spinach or warming a bowl of soup. And for making Barbara Kafka’s Szechuan Green Beans. But not much else.

Instead, the best way to reheat most foods is in a low, 200° F oven. It won’t be as fast as a microwave, but it won’t take as long as when the stuff was originally cooked.

I need to return the computer to Mark because he has a Zoom meeting coming up. And I need to find an already formatted photograph to accompany this diary, probably one of the broccoli rabe I made for our Tuesday night supper.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough

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