What to do when the world is closed?
I’m with Rocketman.
In the kitchen:
First up, a helpful list of substitutions:
Make batches of salad dressings that will make salad prep simple. These are all simple. Keep them in your fridge and give them a shake.
Simple vinegar-based dressing:
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot-If you have none, use a dash of onion powder.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine the vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper with a whisk, then drizzle the oil into the mixture.
Simple non-vinegar dressing:
- 1 lemon (about ¼ cup of the juice)
- 2 TBS honey
- 4 TBS olive oil
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
Combine lemon juice, honey, and grated parm in a small bowl. Stir in olive oil and serve.
Simple ranch dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk. Use regular milk if you prefer.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste approximately 1-3 teaspoons; adjust to taste
Whisk milk and mayo together until smooth. Add the spices and whisk until combined. Add the lemon and whisk again before serving.
Make batches of your Garp trail mix from your pantry. These can replace whole meals or help hungry little ones whining in your household. Note: all of us are children when hungry. Use whatever you have in your hold. My favourites are dried fruit, sunflower seeds, toasted nuts, and chocolate chips. Use your dried cereal here too. Anything works. Be creative. Make up little packets and store them away.
Make soups and double the batch. These can be very simple. If you have boxes or cans of broth and veggies, you’re good to go. Here is the basic recipe:
- 1 lb vegetables, cut up into equal-sized bites
- 1 onion or a few cloves garlic, chopped
- a few TB of olive oil or unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- 4 to 6 cups broth or stock
Heat oil. Saute onion or garlic until soft. Add veggies and brown for a few minutes, then season. Season with S & P. Add broth, cover the pot, and lower the heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes until veggies are soft. Puree if you want a smooth soup, or leave it chunky. It’s up to you. Add in whatever herbs and spices you like.
Make easy cookies and freeze them. In my food memoir are several easy recipes. For those of you who have my book, please email me with any questions. Here’s one for today that amps up every family’s favourite with one easy trick.
Brown Butter Rice Crispies
- Grease an 8-inch square pan.
- Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
- Leave the butter on the heat until it foams and turns brown. The divine smell is your first clue. No, you can’t lap it up right there. Keep your eye on this butter and stir until it turns a nutty colour.
- Turn off the heat and count out 40 marshmallows, and don’t eat them while counting, either.
- Throw them into the butter and return the pan to heat, keeping it on low until it is one lovely, gooey mess.
- Remove from heat and stir in ¼ tsp coarse sea salt and 6 cups Rice Crispies.
- With a rubber spatula, spread the crispies into the prepared baking pan and pat down, evening out the top. Cut into squares.
Outside the kitchen:
Stay fit by turning on some old-school disco and dancing for 20 minutes. Few of us feel like dancing, which is precisely when to do it.
Read a story about JLo’s body and marvel at how trivial some of our thoughts can be at any given moment in history.
Look up some favourite photos on your computer and print out ten. Tape them on entryways to rooms. And while you’re at it, delete all the mediocre images on your computer. Who needs them?
Write down a description of a memorable holiday and what made it special for you. Here’s betting that brainwork will linger in your dreams tonight.
For cooped-up kids:
If you can get outside, go for a walk and play our family’s favourite game of Dalmations. Decide on one object you are likely to see en route. Maybe count houses with red doors. Think of how many of that object you will find. See if you’re right and who is closest to their estimate. The winner gets a break that day from one family chore. The losers have to do twenty jumping jacks right there.
When screen time no longer sustains, build something. Have a whole day of building with family members. Decide you are new on Planet Earth and have to create. Use your Lego or any building things you have. Conjure up food that uses no electricity. Hint: sandwiches. Share some of your results and send me a photo!
Do a family funny census. Find out who snores, who can French braid hair, who can rub their tummy and scratch their head simultaneously, who likes ginger, and who likes milk chocolate or dark chocolate. The list of your census possibilities is endless, but the key here is humour, not competition. Please send me some of your fun results!
Research something new. Learn five new songs about spring. Make a list of all the things you can improve in spring because spring is the season of hope and new things blooming and growing.
Hope is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.