Nah, chef

Your Monday night dinner is not being aired on Food Network

The old adage “pics or it didn’t happen” is…flawed. Whoever coined it (Susan B. Anthony, wasn’t it?) simply didn’t account for the fact that not everything worthwhile can be (or needs to be) picture-perfect. Susan B. must have been on an Instagram break when she said it. And the result is our feelings of insecurity on days when we’re uninspired, feelings of unworthiness when we’ve photographed our dinners in poor lighting. I say take your iPhone off Portrait mode and EAT!

Imagine this: it’s a Tuesday evening and you’re in the midst of, let’s say, a global pandemic. You’re a) anxious, b) “weirdly tired,” c) still not a good homeschool teacher, d) incredibly sick of dishes, or e) all of the above and it’s getting close to dinner time. You’re hungry, they’re hungry. Perhaps not the best night to try out that new curry recipe you’d been eyeing (though this one is quick and delicious). That’s the night you make peanut butter & sriracha sandwiches, served with a cold beer (or, straight up, champagne). That’s the night you make this secretly fantastic 5-minute chickpea recipe.

Turns out, in a pandemic you sometimes have the wherewithal to roll pasta by hand and sometimes you have just enough in the tank to make a breakfast sandwich with spicy mayo for dinner. Who knew? When it’s the latter, may I suggest an unattractive but utterly delicious frittata or a cheesy, gooey, umami-y shiitake mushroom tartine or this long-bookmarked gorgonzola penne, which has turned many a sour mood around.

Soft scrambled eggs, cooked low and slow, served with the best toast you can muster is a weeknight triumph. But if even that sounds like a chore, there exists a step below it. Make frozen vegetable fried rice in a sauté pan. While it’s cooking, make a well in the middle and pour in an egg or two that you’ve lightly beaten and seasoned with salt. Scramble the egg(s) quickly with a wooden spoon. When the egg’s cooked, incorporate the scramble throughout the rice. Dinner’s ready.

“Pizza in the morning. Pizza in the evening. Pizza at suppertime. When pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime.” -Leonard Cohen, maybe

Pizza and its many variations run the pandemic gamut, in that you can make every element by hand or you can scrounge together what you need at the last minute and still make something delicious. Not to mention, the adaptations are endless. Pizza on leftover roti or naan or pita, fantastic. Pizza on pre-made dough from the grocery store or local pizza joint, excellent. Skillet pizza? A boon. Top ‘em with tomato sauce and cheese, cheese and an array of vegetables, a fried egg, cheese and potatoes and fresh herbs, cheese and shredded chicken and red onions. Just cheese. You get the idea.

Nachos are, likewise, made for weeknights during a pandemic. I like this BA guide to nachos, but don’t feel you need to follow it like law. Mess with it. There’s really something about pulling a sheet pan of melty, crispy, piled-high nachos out of the oven that is comforting all it’s own.

Now is the time when I admit, head hung low, that while these dinner ideas are hard won, I have not mastered lunch in any conceivable way. I am often at a loss, surprised and annoyed by my own midday hunger. Send help.

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Ok, I’m full. Now distract me.

Normal bodies look like this, say the Danes. Bravo. (NYT, via CupOfJo)

An awesome roundup of specialty markets in LA (The Infatuation)

I love him and you will, too (Instagram)

Extremely late to this party, but glad I’m here now (Fly by Jing)

My Octopus Teacher is an excellent watch (Netflix) 

Thank god for new eps of Great British Baking Show! (Netflix)

I finished Gentleman in Moscow (loved it) and I’m about to start this (Bookshop.org)

Black winemakers closing the color gap in the industry (Esquire) 

Turns out, I’m a robe person. And this one is it. (Parachute Home)

If you missed the BIPOC Directors Collective conference, their excellent and timely talks will be available on IGTV. (BIPOC Directors Collective)

Check your voter registration and make a plan to get yours in on time (Vote.gov)


Last, but never least, a cooking party.
This one’s about not going the extra mile

Playlist Beyoncé’s The Gift soundtrack for cool, powerful songs that will make you gyrate as you cook.

Pre-Dinner Drink Elderflower spritz, light and bubbly and just sweet enough that maybe you’ll also feel light and bubbly.

Menu Smoked whitefish toast with radish butter to start, which sounds more complex than it is, I promise. Then, serve this simple and lovely tomato and carrot soup. For dessert, an affogato topped with slivered almonds or chocolate chips for extra credit.

Wine Chenin blanc, Chablis, dry Riesling, or sparkling rosé

*Bonus, make it game night We’re Not Really Strangers and/or Monikers to keep the conversation from veering into politics/pandemics


With love and way less pressure on ourselves,

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