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July 29, 2020 | 4.0 Insider

Cooking Through Covid

I’m getting to spend time with my parents this week for the first time since early February. They’ve been hunkered down in their home, not wanting to pay or receive visits, while my family and I have been doing our best to keep our distance. I talk to them frequently on the phone, and we’ve tried Face Time with them…which went much more smoothly once I taught Mom not to hold her phone up to her ear while Face Timing. And we’ve even Zoomed a couple of times.

But nothing can make up for time together in the same space, and even though we’ve shared news on an almost daily basis for the past six months, we’ve had loads to talk about this week. Last night, over a yummy bottle of McPherson EVS Windblown White, I got to talking about how I’ve been spending my time recently, and my mom commented that my recent activities seem to be centered around food. And then it hit me: Food is, apparently, my pandemic love language.

Early during Covid, I signed up to receive New York Times food emails. Each meal includes several recipes, and I’ve enthusiastically tried many of them. My current favorite is for the most delicious peach pound cake I’ve ever tasted. Full disclosure: It’s also the first peach pound cake I’ve ever tasted, but it’s really good…and not that hard to make! I’ve made it three times in the past two weeks.

Because I’m a Methodist and, therefore, must make macaroni salad, I made a lemony one that we feasted on for almost a full week when dining alfresco in West Texas. And there’s the baked tofu in peanut sauce that even my meat-eating husband and daughter liked. I’ve also mastered a vegetarian version of chicken korma, and oh my goodness, why haven’t I been making Cacio e Pepe forever??? If this isn’t in regular rotation at your house, you’re doing it wrong.

In early June, I joined a virtual (Zoom) cooking class with Chef Casey out in Sonoma and learned how to make fried rice. While I must admit that I’ve not made that dish since, I now know that the best rice begins with running water over the grains until the water runs clear. Just a pro tip for you.

In a more recent class with Chef Casey (hosted by 4.0), I discovered my new potluck staple (again, I’m a Methodist): panzanella. I can’t count how many times I’ve made this since taking that class just a couple of weeks ago. It’s easy and yummy and relies on ingredients that just happen to be perfectly fresh right now: peaches (from my favorite stand just down the road from 4.0) and tomatoes (from my garden) and basil (also from my garden). Add this one to your recipe box now.

It should go without saying that the waistlines in my house might be a bit a larger these days. But, for me, there truly is something comforting and calming about making a mess in the kitchen (while drinking wine, of course) and then sitting down to try a new dish (also while drinking wine). So, yes, apparently food is my new coping mechanism. I’m just glad it makes my family happy, too.


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