how we’re navigating covid-19 in chicago
Gosh friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I started my dream job early last month that kept me busy and buzzing with energy, and then well, this terrible pandemic hit. I have been cooking, but have felt off about posting recipes as usual since nothing about right now is usual.
I’m sure you’ve all been going through the same emotions we’ve been going through – fear and sadness peppered with hope and optimism. Good days, bad days, weird days, what day is it days. Feeling constantly thankful and in awe of all the health care workers, grocery store workers, and all essential personnel that are helping us make it to the other side of this.
So given all the emotional highs and lows, I decided that I’d share some small things that have been putting smiles on our faces while we’ve been under shelter in place orders (for over a month now). While the seriousness of the pandemic is not lost on me, I have also found it imperative for my own mental health to find small moments of peace throughout the day – most of which revolve around my getting-greener-by-the-day-thumb.
I hope you are all well out there and finding your own moments of zen where you can. <3 Here's what we've been up to.
Passing on Some Joy During Social Distancing
First things first – I put out this little spread with candy, granola bars, and drinks for our deliver drivers and mail carrier, given we’re getting so much by delivery. It’s a small thing, but nearly everyone has taken something and sometimes they knock on our window and give us a thumbs up with a big smile.
Oh, and definitely put treats in something with a heavy lid as one of my crazy city squirrels ran off with a wrapped granola bar. 😀
As the second part of trying to spread a little cheer, while out tending to my garden and cleaning it up for spring I noticed that my hibiscus plant was filled with little seeds that were perfect for harvesting. So I went out with my tweezers and carefully grabbed them all up and put them in an envelope. Since my mom is a avid gardener, I decided to send some off to her as a little surprise via snail mail. I thought it was a cute way for me to share my garden and share some pretty flowers.
This is what they look like in full bloom in the summer, one of my favorites.
I’m sure we’re all doing variations of spreading some kindness and cheer, so I’d love to hear what you all are up to during these times where we have to be creative in this endeavor.
Aiming for Zero Food Waste
This has been a goal of mine for a very long time and certainly right now is the time to take this more seriously than ever. In this new norm, before I am about to throw away what I used to consider a scrap, I google it to see what we can do with it. I can’t believe I’m just learning some of this for the first time, shame on me!
So far, we’ve used beet greens in a delicious lentil and rice dish from Taverna as a replacement for spinach. I’m embarrassed to admit I never really used the greens of veggies like carrots and beets, but I will from now on.
We’ve also saved lettuce, green onion and celery scraps to regrow in my little make-shift green house on the back porch.
I mean, look at this little bebe regenerating.
Also this baby celery is kind of adorable. And I’m hopeful that the taste will be super fresh. We shall see.
All you need to do is keep the bottom bulbs or the core of the vegetable submerged in water (about 1 inch), change out water daily and keep in sunlight – a window sill is perfect.
I’m hopeful I’ll never have to pay for green onions again. 🙂
Sowing Veggie & Herbs Seeds
Putting a ton of energy into this process has been my most zen-inducing project since I’ve been home. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of gardening supplies already, and had already placed a seed order for some flowers, herbs and veggies before shortages started to take place.
But I’ve found Park Seed to be a good resource to still order a variety of affordable seeds and supplies from with a slight delay. Also, a lot of our local nurseries are doing curbside pick-up as well.
You don’t need a giant plot of land to think about growing veggies + herbs. There are great pot-friendly vegetables like tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, spinach and more that just need a large pot and some sunshine to grow. I also always grow my herbs in pots and find great success (have even done them inside in front of a sunny window).
I may have gone a little bananas this year with how many seeds I’ve planted, but hey – when all you’ve got is time, why not. I’ve got grape tomatoes, bok choy, radishes, beets, radicchio, jalapenos, baby greens, rosemary, cilantro and dill as well as some beautiful flowers my mom gave to me for Christmas from Higgledy Gardens. I have some more on the way including cucumbers, basil, parsley and some petunia flowers. Maybe I’ll open a nursery when this is all over!
I grabbed an old folding table from the garage and set up a make shift greenhouse on my back porch where all my little ones can get plenty of sunlight. I just love popping in every morning, first thing, to see what has newly sprouted.
Hello little radishes!
As for my flowers, I’m most excited for these to bloom, aren’t they beautiful? They’re the Chrysanthemum ‘Rainbow Hippy Love Child’ variety.
Gardening has really been my favorite way to spend time this last month. It feels good to get in the dirt and nurture plants that will eventually nurture you.
I think everyone is doing this already, right? It sure seems that way given the shortage of yeast and bread flour! Luckily Dave is the bread-maker in this house, so I’ve been reaping the benefits.
His go-to resources for foolproof recipes and inspiration are Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads and Maurizio on instagram.
He’s made amazing french baguettes that we gobbled up as a side to chicken noodle soup and as a snack with a smidge of butter and sea salt, delicious.
He also made some perfect sub sandwich rolls that we layered on up with all the goodies for a mouthwatering Italian sub.
And the pièce de résistance had to be this focaccia with red onion, giardiniera and smoked mozzarella (from our smoked fish and cheese party). HAVE MERCY.
And last, if you’re like me – a novice breadmaker, this recipe from Mark Bittman is pretty easy to make (even I did it)! It never looks perfect, since I don’t know what I’m doing, but always tastes fabulous.
And with that big old carb overload, I’ll button up this post!
I do hope that you are all well, staying safe, and finding some joy where you can.
I have a bunch of recipes sitting in my arsenal, so will be back to posting some foodie favorites very soon, so stay tuned.