Never did I anticipate a pandemic like COVID-19 in 2020. I started out the year as I always do with optimism and hope. We were fortunate to have taken some great trips mid-winter to sunnier, warmer, and more exotic places compared to cold and wintery, Columbus, Ohio. It was shortly after returning home from India and Dubai in February 2020, we began to receive increasing media updates about the escalating global health crisis. Going into “stay-at-home” or lock down was certainly not ideal for any of us or our teenagers wanting to see their friends and carry on with life as normal. However, the biggest blessing during those few months was the gift of quality family time, including a renewed sense of sharing meals, meaning, we were finally in the same place, same time, all together around the same table, for more than once or twice a week.
Prior to the stay-at-home orders, meals were hurried, grab-and-go, maybe just me, maybe my husband and myself, and occasionally, maybe twice a week, the whole family sitting down to a meal. Busy schedules drove the menu based on how much time there was to get something on the table, or in our bellies. Take out, order-in, and dine out, were all very much part of our weekly ritual.
Soon after the new orders took hold, I realized with the entire family at home all day, seven days a week, I would need to sustain meal planning in more volume and quantity than I was accustomed. I was both excited and a little nervous about meal planning with limited store outings and minimal sourcing from restaurants. Sure, I had always enjoyed cooking with ample time, it was not that cooking was a foreign concept, but admittedly, my version of baking was usually from a box, and as for cooking, I didn’t deviate too far from making familiar dishes. And I certainly didn’t make many made-from-scratch foods.
Time in the kitchen has been a creative outlet. There is so much I love getting into from dreaming up the vision of creations coming together, to the aromas and fragrances releasing from the stovetop or oven, to the final presentation and plating process. Making food beyond functional, and curating something that is both beautiful and appealing I have discovered is another one of life’s many enjoyments. The food experience from creation to clean up, is a bit therapeutic. I find it relaxing and satisfying on many levels.
The recipe that was likely the catalyst to my food hobby or pure obsession, was making homemade bagels. It turned out to be a much easier process than I had anticipated. They looked and smelled amazing and tasted delicious. I have been making them ever since, as a family favorite and weekly request. What this recipe gave me, was the courage to embrace made-from-scratch foods, like homemade breads, pastas, entrees, to dressings, sauces, and desserts. Once you venture into made-from-scratch, oh my! It gets harder to fall back to anything not fresh or that’s frozen or boxed. I still do it, but far less than I used to. The satisfaction it brings not just to my taste buds, but knowing there’s fresh, homemade food to enjoy, makes it worth all the effort.
What I have been reminded of over these past months is that, food is love. Food brings us together. Food has brought nourishment, conversation, comfort, and sharing, connecting us at home, and with others, during a time where social interactions have been more limited, and connection has been more important than ever.
If you are viewing this blog post, thank you for your support with this first read. If you are interested in exploring new food ideas or mustering up the courage to try new recipes too, this will be a cozy and comforting place where we can connect and share together!