Thursday, April 30, 2020

Covid Cafe: Robin's Egg Blue

Good day, chefs of Covid Cafe, and especially thanks for sending us recipes great and small. If the pandemic is making you feel a little blue, let it be robin's-egg blue. We found this nest in the arms of our small crab tree this morning. You might recall that several days ago this perfect nest was empty, which shows you how quickly things can change.

It feels like a miracle but it's just nature going about her business, more now than ever since the world of human getting and spending has gone largely still.
Tiffany blue

Our friend Connie delivers reading materials to older adults for the library in Libertyville. Deep bow for that, and especially these days when our older friends are virtually locked in their rooms.

Connie wrote to tell us about her Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Thighs: This sheltering in place is extremely difficult for our home-bound seniors. I call my patrons weekly and they are going stir crazy and feel so isolated. I'm grateful to be able to walk outside and blow off a little steam in my kitchen.

So I found five chicken thighs in my freezer.  I also had a small bag of little potatoes that were beginning to sprout and needed to be used. 

Searching through my recipes,  I found one for rosemary garlic roasted chicken with green beans.  Lucky for me, my grocery pre-packaged the green beans and I had a massive bag of them. We have a rosemary plant that moves from the patio in the fall to our sun porch in the winter so the herb wasn't an issue either.

I decided to roast the potatoes with just some salt, pepper and olive oil since my oven was going to be on for the chicken. The recipe called for eight shallots, but since I only had one I substituted a red onion. 

(Beautiful, Connie. Substitution is the name of the game.)

 Are you moving enough?
That's what I wondered while watching this, sent by PK 
(click here to view in browser) 


Renata Flores, 19, is part of a generation of Peruvian musicians combining the bouncing beats of Latin trap, rap and reggaeton with the sounds, and language, of the Andean countryside.

(click here to view in browser)


Boy and Egg
Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make
a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear while the other children
laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,
so little yet, too forgetful in games,
ready to cry if the ball brushed him,
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist,
not ready to give it over
to the refrigerator
or the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Covid Cafe: For The Love Of A Jenn-Air

Happy drippy day, chefs. We hope you've all got a mask to wear when you're out and about, our new normal everywhere.  

Rob returns today with a love letter to his range: Two nights ago I broiled off a marinated flank steak.  The best thing from that meal is the leftovers.  Flank steak in the pan, and green beans, shallots, and butter on the sheet pan.

Let’s talk appliances.  Heidi knows how much I love my range, a Jenn-Air double oven with so many cooking methods I will never exhaust the possibilities.  The top oven broils, toasts, bakes, warms, and the bottom oven broils, proofs dough, dries fruit, convection bakes, and of course, just bakes.  The setting I love the most is convection roast.  Living in an urban, shared space, I can’t grill, so this is a life saver.  I don’t know how it does it, but damn, it makes everything taste better.

Reheating flank steak on the stove could be pedestrian.  But I have secret weapons. . . frozen flavor bombs.

Whenever I cook off a roast, chicken, or turkey, I skim the drippings and let them sit overnight in the fridge.  Once firmed up, I take a small ice cream scoop and add them to my freezer bag.  When reheating meat or for any other dish, there is a flavor bomb at the ready to up the game on sauces, dressings, whatever.

One goes right into the middle of the skillet.
Green beans get tossed in butter, salt, and herbed mustard with blue cheese.  A few minutes in the convection roast and they are savory.

All in all, the leftovers plate up nicely.

(Oh yes they do...)

Hohokum projectile point
JAZ in Tucson checks in: Here's a Hohokum projectile point we found (800-1000 years old). They were the ancestors of the current Tohono O'odham Native Peoples. We are volunteer archeological site stewards, so we roam a certain area looking for artifacts or vandalism. This is a superb find. 


Notched out
on this crust of field—in the day
that comes after us,
where you saw the earth
almost happen again: the echoing
furrows have closed,
and for this one-more-life have ransomed you
against the avid murmur
of scythes. Count me along, then,
with your words. Nothing,
even on this day, will change.
to shoulder with dust, before
the blade and beyond
the tall dry grass
that veers with me, I am the air’s
stammered relic. 


Here’s one for our friends south of the border…

Mexican police raise coronavirus awareness with Mariachi song

(click here to view inbrowser)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Covid Cafe: Echoes of NZ

Good morning, chefs. We're hoping to plant some fruit trees here at the cafe and that means someone has to select and order them, preferably someone unlike me who’s enchanted by all the varieties. As a result, today’s post is short and sweet and centers on NZ lamb chops

First, though, I broke Rule One of Pandemic Provisioning: I bought a lot of something we don't eat much of, potatoes. They zoom my blood sugar like candy and we don't eat fast carbs anyway. Still, cooked and cooled and cooked again they transform into a resistant starch much loved by the microbiome.  Here's more on that.

The lambchops, smeared with dijon and dusted with oregano and rosemary.

Art's grill work makes them sing

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her team have been praised for locking down the country quickly, testing and tracing and apparently surmounting Covid-19. More here. The country moves from Level 4 to Level 3 today.
Ardern posted this on her instagram today.
jacindaardern's profile picture

A few days ago we got a wee note to say that the Queen wanted to catch up and see how everyone in New Zealand was getting on in the midst of COVID-19. It was such a treat to speak with Her Majesty tonight. Her affection for New Zealand, her interest in what’s happening here and her memory of places and events that are special to us never ceases to amaze me.


I like this new John Legend song so much I’m putting up another version.
This one goes out to Carly and Rahul, wedding postponed by a virus. 
May bigger love prevail.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Covid Cafe: And The Days Go By...

Hi chefs. We're just back from the big monthly grocery expedition. A Talking Heads song came on and I wondered if the entitled white guy not wearing a mask and standing too close to me was clueless or defiant. 

Shopper feast: fish, shiitake, herbs, blueberries, leeks

Our friend Haley checks in today from Grand Rapids with a rainbow of a salad...

Haley writes: Here's a salad recipe I've been enjoying often. 

The recipe originally came from a blog and suggests four portions, but we've found this really is better split into six separate salads. It's full of vibrant colors and the ramen is a great treat. We use a ramen by Lotus Foods, but any kind will work.

It’s very simple (it’s salad after all!). Clean, chop and mix all the veggies. Cook the ramen cakes according to the package. Be sure to drain well as this extends the shelf life of the salads. I use a clean dish towel and squeeze all the liquid out.

Divide evenly into six containers. 

I portion out the veggies and ramen separately to make sure each serving has some noodles.

For the dressing just toss all listed ingredients into a food processor. Add the dressing just before serving. 

A great grab and go (well, in this case stay) lunch. Also, I have found that dancing is helping when I am starting to lose my mind. The Talking Heads concert video Stop Making Sense really gets me off my feet and it is streaming on Prime.  

(Thank you, Haley! Let's dance...)


 In the land of plenty, it's still a jolt to see this

 Music and poetry
(because music is poetry)

Once in a Lifetime
Haley and I share a love for Talking Heads

Take Me To The World
Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday celebration