Don't ask me what I'll do with all this free time

A few nights ago, I made a crab pasta with cherry tomatoes. I poured myself a glass of wine to sip while cooking and I felt its calming effects immediately. The kitchen smelled of butter, garlic, tomato; Ella Fitzgerald scatted on Spotify. My son was “setting” the coffee table for our weekly dinner-and-movie night. And I had one of those almost involuntary moments when your brain forces you to take a step back, to appreciate, to be grateful, to enjoy. I smiled, lowered my shoulders, and started to shake some of *it* off.

The pasta helped, but I am in need of more of those moments. A great many more. This country has weathered two more unconscionable mass shootings in the last week. We continue to weather a global pandemic, though there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that makes me truly giddy. All this to say, I’m taking a hiatus this week. This is my longwinded out of office message. Because I shan’t leave you high and dry, you’ll find below a collection of links to previous newsletters (ICYMI), some fresh recipes, and a cooking party for those who’ve never even heard the phrase “cooking fatigue”.

Because in spite of it all, spring is (literally, proverbially) springing all around us.

In Case You Missed It

How to eat around the world from the TK of your own home; an ode to my nonna’s Bolognese ragú and it’s annoyingly American special ingredient; a solid argument for nachos as a solution to the world’s problems; an even more solid argument for cake anytime you want cake; and my tips on making special occasions feel special even during a pandemic.

Five Recipes I’d Like to Make This Week

Mixed grain and coconut porridge, for a lazy weekend breakfast or make-ahead during the week and have a bit in the morning, a bit at lunch (BA)

Chicken with pine nuts and golden raisins, baked in parchment paper (meaning low cleanup) and, in my house, served with a crouton-heavy butter lettuce salad (To Taste)

One pot turmeric coconut rice with greens, because lately I’m all about wilting greens into things (NYT)

Nigella Lawson’s lamb ribs with cumin, which I want to eat messily with my hands

And David Lebovitz’s double chocolate puddings to follow literally any of the dinners above (or to follow a dinner I’ve ordered in)

The Cooking-to-Distract-and-Delight Cooking Party, at your service

PLAYLIST. Cooking Music 1, the one with Chance the Rapper and Muddy Waters and Marvin Gaye and just try to stay tense with this playing. Just try.

DRINK WHILE COOKING. A Roman Holiday, which is low-booze and high-flavor and is bound to inspire either the film you’ll watch that evening or the trip you’ll take when the world reopens

MENU. An all-green primavera served with a tagliata di manzo (Italian for a simple and perfectly seared steak) or this gorgeously spiced grilled tilapia for those avoiding red meat.

DESSERT. Strawberry rhubarb fool, which is cooling and sweet and creamy and incredibly versatile

Signing off so I can shake it off,