Saturday, April 25, 2020

What's for Dessert?

If you grew up in the 80's you may remember a catchy little McD's commercial..."big mac, filet o fish quarter pounder, french fries..." I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but though it has been 35 years -- I can still recite it in its entirety.

As I was thinking about this I also pondered how I use baking to cope with stress. Since we've been  under the stay at home order my oven has been working overtime. I start each day thinking "what will I have for dessert?" Dessert - typically comes at the end of the the end of a day. Maybe somewhere inside my head - my brain is trying to figure out how we can get to the end of this pandemic faster...answer: cake

My real life commercial (to the McD's tune)
shortcake, banana bread, coconut cake, brownies, carrot cake, cookies, rice treats and french silk pie!

Over the last several weeks I have made all of these confections and more!

I can barely keep track of what day it is, much less the number of days since the words pandemic and quarantine have become the most used words in our social vocabulary. When the stuff hit the fan, my family and I were 500 miles from home visiting my in-laws. On the day we arrived at their door, all gatherings over 1,000 people were cancelled -- this included the much anticipated Billie Eilish concert Natalie had been dying to see since she opened her Christmas gift. As we watched news coverage of growing Covid-19 cases and grocery stores with empty shelves -- I thought about my own home with its near empty fridge and two rolls of TP.

I remained calm.

My in-laws kept us well fed which included a steady diet of meat and potatoes with noodles....and bacon -- lots of bacon. Each morning we woke to new CDC recommendations...less than 1,000 person gatherings had been reduced to 100, then 50, then 10. We left their home with food to feed us on the road and the knowledge that things were about to get real...weird.

At home I focused my attentions on restocking our fridge and not panicking when we had to shop at three different stores to find toilet paper. The kids were technically still on spring break and though it seemed unlikely they would be returning soon, I could distract myself with household chores and walking the dog. When we got word school would become homeschool, I still didn't panic. I thought all I need to do is get everyone into a routine. I bumped up my walks with Truvy from twice to three times a day. Noah would come with us in the mornings, Nat would join Truvy and I in the afternoons (P.E. class - check). And, although walking in our neighborhood has become a sometimes tense game of human Frogger -- trying to adhere to rules of social distancing  -- we are doing it. I try to push down the pang of sadness I feel when my hello greeting is ignored and they continue walking, stoic/face forward, as if they could catch the virus by speaking to me from the other side of the street.

With everyone home...all    the    time -- I decided I was tired of dealing with the added dishes, housework and meal planning. I broke the news to the kids that "homeschool" would include Home Life classes, too. Even days Nat does the dishes and odd days Noah takes care of them. Previously they only handled dinner clean-up. On their "off dishes" days, they vacuum. Both kids have been more involved in meals...especially dessert. Previously Noah had been very opposed to doing anything in the kitchen because he couldn't stop reliving the Mug Cake Fiasco that happened several years ago. Even though it was me who had messed up. When he got to the point of putting the mug in the microwave, I told him to cook it for 5 minutes. Gah. It was supposed to only cook for 1 minute (5 minutes was the total time to prepare AND cook the cake-in-a-cup creation). But, I finally convinced him to try baking again. I told him if I made the cake, then I alone would be eating the cake. Voila! Sometimes commando parenting is in order. Anyway, over the last few weeks Noah has made PB chocolate chip Rice Krispie treats and a boxed yellow cake and dog treats for Truvy. The dog treats require pressing out the dough and forming them into shapes so it doubles as an OT session which is great because he is missing his weekly OT sessions due to Covid-19. Natalie has made brownies, cookies and skillet flat bread pizzas.

Since my art studio is also known as "the kitchen table", painting commissions have been put on the back burner as it seems there is always a hungry teen in need of my studio. Sigh. To combat this loss, I referred to some sage advice, a mentor/friend, Susan Ritland, had shared with me -- when you are feeling low, the best thing to do is find a way to help someone else. I started making artist trading cards. I began sending out my playing card-sized artworks to people I knew who were sheltering at home alone, those who were recovering from surgery or going through cancer treatments. I found the work kept me from focusing on what I had lossed or was missing -- instead I thought about all that I was grateful for -- good health, sun on my face, my flower garden waking from the winter months...and orange cake with chocolate ganache glaze.

Today is another day at home. I choose happy. Time to get out my trusty Kitchen Aid.

During our Ohio visit, Nat and her Grandma Connie made pie on Pi Day!
Noah participated in a Zoom LEGO club with CO friends.
Strawberry Shortcake recipe compliments of Sally's Baking Addiction
Sometimes nature is a ghast. Noah's homeschool art assignment
Nat's skillet flatbread pizza compliments of King Arthur Flour recipe
Easter morning. Steve made the kids bunny butt pancakes.
A Fairy Tale --  my artist trading cards...inspiration compliments of Truvy and Hershey chocolate kisses.
We celebrated Steve's birthday using my friend, Barb's recipe for French silk pie.
Hoop! There it is!
Nature eye candy
Nat made me an ATC (artist trading card) -front side
On the back side she wrote a haiku to go with the card
A cardinal decided to build her nest in the honeysuckle on our fence.

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