The first thing we did was shop. At the start of quarantine in mid-March, we, like so many of you, bought lots of beans, pounds of rice, and alllll the toilet paper. As a staff suddenly working from home, we enjoyed the opportunity to cook—to skip the salad line and make something delicious in our own kitchens before plodding back to makeshift workstations. But then we realized: Three meals a day every single day is a lot of cooking! There were So. Many. Dishes. And why do sandwiches taste so much better when someone else makes them? As days turned into weeks and then months, something changed: We became different kinds of home cooks.
Of course, quarantine has had impacts far greater than dirty dishes and chickpea fatigue. There has been immense hardship and devastation; we are grateful for our health and our livelihoods. And we are grateful to have found bright spots in our kitchens. We got more creative as cooks. More efficient. We learned to cut down on food waste, and on time spent chopping. We ate the tastiest beans (and we didn’t even soak them). We, people who write recipes for a living, embraced the fact that recipes are merely suggestions. We drank extremely potent cocktails with our parents.
There’s much about quarantine cooking we’re eager to leave behind: the stress of a grocery run, not being able to share food with a table full of friends and family. But what follows are strategies and recipes we picked up along the way—lessons we hope stay with us after that 20-pound bag of rice is finally gone.
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