Having been home for weeks now, wait, no… MONTHS, I have had a very CLOSE relationship with home and those who reside in it. The stay-at-home order has also afforded me lots of extra time to learn new things. In chatting with friends, they too are trying out new recipes and learning fun skills. I’m hoping we’re on the tail end of this, but should we have an extended lock-down for safety, here’s a summary of the most popular things to try during the Covid-19 pandemic with my circle of friends.
As many of us are not buying groceries as often as we normally do in an attempt ot stay out of the stores, we have resorted to baking our own bread. It’s no secret that yeast and flour have been hard to come by. However, for those of us who have managed to keep a stash, baking bread (either by hand or with a bread maker) is the IT thing to do! Not only does it make our homes smell wonderful, but there’s something about fresh hot bread coming out of the oven that provides mental comfort. It’s like, I have bread – what else do I need in life? (Except, for maybe butter?)
I’ve been taking care of a sourdough starter since February. It’s like having a new puppy (which ALSO SEEMS TO BE A PANDEMIC TREND!) However, all I need to do is take my gooey starter out of the fridge once a week and feed it fresh flour and water. Then I simply watch it bubble out on my counter as it digests sugars before I either use some for more fresh bread, or park it back in the fridge to sleep. The fresh sourdough bread is amazing, however I’ve been taking one cup of starter and adding it to a standard pizza dough recipe (with yeast) and making dough in my bread maker. WOW – show stopper! The crust is seriously so delicious that I may not every order takeout pizza again! Here’s a great link on how to use a starter for bread. You can MAKE your own starter if you’re patient, but asking someone who is already babysitting a starter for a cup of their mix is a GREAT way to get going.
If you’re not ready to take on bread baking, consider making some simple cornbread (mix out of a box) and decorate the top with vegetables and herbs to make a ‘floral display’! It’s creative, pretty and even tastier to eat!
I have had dreams of fresh mozarella recently as the tomatoes are starting to get red and tangy again with the warm weather. I can find some nice mozarella at the store, but it’s pricey and just not the same as the gooey fresh kind I can get at an Italian restaurant. I recently purchased some cheese making supplies (Rennet, Citric Acid & Flake Salt) from Urban Cheesecraft and now I’m ready to make my very own! You’ll also need a good thermometer to test the milk temperature.
The first batch of mozarella I made was a fail. Apparently I did not let me cooked curd set up long enough (I only waited 10 minutes when I should have waited 15). However, my FAIL cheese was still delicious as it had the consistency of a farmer’s cheese. I blended in salt and green onions and it was a delicious addition to a salad and was also great on crackers. So, don’t be scared to try your hand at cheesemaking – even the flops turn out tasty!
For the weeks where we could only walk around our neighborhood, I noticed fun signs and chalk art on the streets to delight and entertain neighbors. Another bonus – boxes of fresh citrus & herbs for neighbors to take for free, tennis balls were offered up for dogs or even boxes of free poop bags! These little gestures made the walks more enjoyable and made me feel like we are truly in this together!
My good friend Supannee has a little farm that she grows fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers at for her restaurant, Supannee House of Thai. I occassionally help her weed & she’s given me a few plant starters for my daughter to nurture at home. Lettuces are a great thing for newbies to grow. They grow quickly and are relatively no fuss. Simply pick the outside leaves off to enjoy, and the lettuces keep growing. Eventually the lettuce plants will get too tall & leggy, which brings me to my next topic of sprouting veggies from existing veggies.
Growing Vegetables in Water
Sprouting green vegetables from existing vegetables seems like a magic trick, but it works! I’ve been chopping the bases off my green spring onions and placing the ends in fresh water inside a mason jar. I do use a toothpick to stab and prop them up on the edge so they don’t sink to the bottom. Every day, green shoots sprout up higher and higher! I often go over and snip off the tall green growth and add onions to whatever I’m cooking! You may also do this with lettuces. Simply take that base, sit in fresh water (and change it frequently) and new green leaves will sprout upward! So if you have a leggy lettuce plant in your garden, simply yank it out, chop off the base and give it new life in a bowl of fresh water. Eventually you could replant it. Plants are MAGIC!
COLOR YOUR HAIR!
My teen and her bestie dyed their hair bright pink with a semi-permanent hair color (and they did it the same time over Zoom!) As she said, who cares – school it out! It’s the perfect time to do it! It came out great and it’s been so much fun for her. However, on my walks, I not only saw lots of other kids with colored hair, but so many adults! I even spotted a few Dads with blue hair! We used Lime Crime – it was pretty easy to use. I would just be careful if you have white tile, or be prepared with some bleach spray for cleanup. Some did get on the white sink and it took a little elbow grease to get the pink out. Once it was in her hair, there was no ‘color bleed’ elsewhere.
Squirrel Picnic Tables!
I don’t know who came up with this, but a photo of a squirrel sized picnic table shot across the internet like wildfire in March 2020. My crafty husband disappeared to his workshop and came out with several gorgeous mini-picnic tables! We have sinced purchased some squirrel food and have attached it to the table top mounted in a tree. We used one of our RING security cameras as the new Squirrel Cam and it’s been SO FUN watching the daily activity! Here’s a pic of a recent visitor:
Not only do the squirrels come by daily, but we also have raccoons and mice (eek) that come by at night to chow down.
Everyone with a sewing machine has been making cute cloth masks! I also have friends who have taken up (self-taught) crochetting and knitting and making everything from cute scarfs to little crocheted succulents for decor. Sewing and knitting is a skill that will be useful over a lifetime. My daughter just took two old curtains and transformed it into a fun outdoor tablecloth. She has taken bright leftover fabric and made coasters lined with felt. What does your home need? What could you do to repurpose old clothing or fabric? Are you making masks for first responders or those at risk?