Pandemic Update #2

Well, it is still going on. Here’s how our cooking has changed during the pandemic. I haven’t really felt like blogging about food, instead blogging about woodworking over at my main blog. I apologize if you’ve missed it, but I don’t expect anyone has.

In the beginning of the pandemic, March to early May, we were using cooking as a way to distract ourselves from not being able to go out and do the things we had planned to do. Lots of baking, pasta making, and all-day cooking sessions to make some fun meals and stock our freezer with things like tamales, dumplings, and the like. Also things like buying a 5lb bag of ginger and prepping that for use through the rest of the year. Since Amanda started working from home, she started cooking more of our meals and upping her kitchen game.

Then by May it warmed up and we were able to spend more time outside, so we did more grilling and less baking. Doing things in the yard like building garden beds, planting, mowing, and restaining the deck replaced much of the weekend time that we previously filled with cooking. It stayed this way until Fall. Most of our meals were salads or grilled meat and vegetables, with some occasional grilled pizza when I planned far enough ahead to make the dough. BLTs with garden lettuce and tomatoes were a frequent occurrence. Lots of Zucchini Carpaccio, too.

Eating kale and tomatoes fresh from the garden in our breakfast omelets 2-3x a week was a definite highlight. We’re so glad to have a garden again.

The early fall found us spending a little more time inside as it cooled down, but low enough COVID numbers to go apple picking and hiking with friends. The baking picked back up and I got a cool cast iron waffle maker that has made weekend breakfasts fun. I had hoped to find one at a flea market or estate sale, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that, so I found this one on eBay. We did some more preserving and I got back in the rhythm of making chicken stock again. Soups, curries, and chilis started getting back into the rotation as the daylight dwindled along with the temperature. Sweet potato curry is a new favorite. Whole roasted chicken is a regular occurrence, too. We bought some saffron crocus bulbs and planted those this fall. We got a small saffron harvest out of it! Hoping for a larger one next year. We also dried and saved a lot of our garden herbs.

We were bummed to cancel Thanksgiving with friends, but we decorated and made a scaled-down dinner for ourselves anyway: Half a turkey, sausage sage dressing, Parker House rolls, green bean casserole, roasted butternut squash, and Nantucket cranberry pie. We ate it for the next week. I had a great idea to turn the stuffing into a hash and put a fried egg and hot sauce on it for breakfast. Delicious.

Now that we are back in the coldest part of winter and this pandemic keeps dragging on, we’re using cooking as a welcome distraction again. We are busier now than we were the first time around, so the overall level is definitely less than last year, but still present. That is mostly on weekends. During the week we’re turning more to simple, nutritious meals that we can knock out quickly and have for lunch the next day. Lots of bread baking, too. Mostly sourdough sandwich loaves. We use the Instant Pot a lot, especially for beans.

The main thing food-wise we’re looking forward to is getting our garden going again. Our seed order just came in from Baker Creek and we are counting down the day until we can start some of them. I just drew up plans to build greenhouse-style tops for our garden beds to start things outside a bit earlier. We’re looking forward to the garlic we planted in October to really take off this spring.

I may start writing here again, but I don’t know when. I don’t think anything I’m cooking is that exciting and I don’t like blogging for the sake of blogging. I prefer having something to say, which I don’t right now. Much of what I cook these days is thrown together from what we happen to have on-hand. Cast iron pizza instead of Neapolitan pizza because it is less involved. We aren’t drinking much, so Tipple Tuesday hasn’t been appealing either. If you are looking for awesome home cocktail content, go subscribe to Al Culliton’s Cocktail Club.

Perhaps I’ll reboot the Cooking the Books project that I abandoned?

If there is anything you’d like to read more about, let me know. It might spark my return to blogging here. Until then, follow me over at for woodworking, tech, and book-related content.

5 thoughts on “Pandemic Update #2

  1. bkjergaard January 24, 2021 / 8:31 pm

    Chuck, I would love to hear more about your weekday meals. We’re home now with our baby, and we’re always trying to find fast healthy meals. We use out instant pot lots, but get stuck in a rut with our recipes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bkjergaard January 24, 2021 / 8:33 pm

    Glad to see you back! I’d love to read more about your weekday meals. We’re in a rut here and with our baby we need quick healthy ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chuck Grimmett January 25, 2021 / 3:06 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Bethany! I’ll think about it this week and make it my next post.


  3. Robert Felty February 3, 2021 / 7:54 am

    I almost never get tired of looking at recipes. And your pictures are really great! Do you have any tips for taking good food pictures?


    • Chuck Grimmett February 4, 2021 / 10:40 pm

      Thanks, Robert! My number one tip for taking good food photos is to use natural lighting as much as possible. This is quite difficult fo the third meal of the day during the winter, so plan ahead. The second tip is to be mindful of the background: The fish on the plate can look beautiful, but if there is a messy counter behind it, the photo will suffer.

      Liked by 1 person

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