Like so many others, I associate food with safety, comfort, and communion. I am not a stress eater, but I am a stress cooker.
During these weeks my family has stayed home, I have found that preparing dinner gives me a sense of purpose and control. I enjoy the challenge of making a meal that we can enjoy together as we sit around the table. And it’s one small thing that I can do to make my college kids’ time at home more palatable (pun intended).
Lest you think that our family dinners are the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting, let me assure you they are not. Unless there’s one titled “Bickering with your mouth full” that I’ve not seen before.
On my weekly forays for provisions, I’ve become quite a gatherer. I’ve brought home some pretty great finds, including a 62-ounce container of Peanut M & M’s and a 12-pound bag of King Arthur flour.
The candy was well-received. In fact, on subsequent shopping trips, I picked up another one. But the flour is a different story. Normally, it takes me months to use a 5-pound bag of flour, and that includes sharing some with my neighbor every once in a while. Envisioning our family filling the hours baking pandemic pastries together, I bought it with hope in my heart.
Three weeks passed and the bag of King Arthur flour sat neglected on the shelf in our pantry. Certainly not the place for royalty.
I made a few attempts to give baking a whirl, but to put it mildly, my kids were not interested. Of course, they had no objections if I wanted to make something for them, but I wasn’t interested. Instead, watching cooking shows on television has become part of our daily ritual, and no clean-up is required. Perhaps what you’d call a win-win.
Then, a friend posted on social media. He was looking for King Arthur flour, which was not available where he usually shops. He’s the real deal: a great cook who makes everything from scratch. He has been baking with his daughter through the quarantine. It’s their way to cope with corona.
We texted back and forth to arrange for a no-contact transfer from my pantry to his kitchen, where he is kneading away his worries—or at least keeping them at bay—one amazing loaf of bread at a time.
In normal times, I would not have been prowling on social media on a Friday morning, and my friend would not have been searching for such a commonplace ingredient. But the times are not normal, and flour has become somewhat tricky to find. I was delighted to know that he would put the flour to such good and delicious use.
Okay, it probably sounds a little crazy, but pandemic daydreams or not, this little thing gave me more pleasure than if I had actually baked anything myself. There’s no shame in that—indeed, there are many ways to nourish ourselves and each other.