Q&A special: What do I do with celery? & more reader questions
A little Friday fun (because we absolutely need it)
We made it to Friday! This week was busy with Passover preparations and a Zoom seder! Even when I was in college or working in an office, I would always take time off to get ready for Passover so it felt good to do that even under these circumstances. I shared some photos on Instagram and will have a full rundown on Monday.
Today, I wanted to answer a bunch of questions from YOU, all sourced via Instagram or email. If you have more questions, we can do this again!
What is your favorite recipe that features tahini??
This is a tough one and I’m going to cheat and offer a sweet and savory answer.
Savory: a simple tahini yogurt sauce (tahini, greek yogurt, salt, lemon juice, a little bit of cumin or za’atar) that makes a sad plate of broccoli a good dinner. Adjust the ratios to your taste and add a little water if you want a thinner sauce.
Sweet: tahini chocolate chip cookies which don’t taste overly savory but do cause a little “hmmm what is this?” reaction. Make the dough a day in advance (you can also freeze it).
What’s your advice for someone who is bored of cooking?
Um, I feel you! The first step, which I stole from Deb of Smitten Kitchen (her op ed about the struggles of cooking is a mood), is to take a break. Normally, that would involve going to be a restaurant. Now that could mean ordering pizza, defrosting something frozen, eating pb & j or a quesadilla for dinner, or kindly asking your roommate to take care of cooking for the night (return the favor soon). Even a day off will help reset. Then, you can think about what you’re tired of: is it washing dishes? eating the same dishes on repeat? decision fatigue?
For me, I try to find a recipe that I’m excited about or some ingredient I don’t cook often. Last Friday, I was really tired of cooking and was going to throw something random together for dinner. I was preheating the oven with no plan when I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked for sesame tofu with broccoli. I realized I had most of the ingredients. I decided to make it and actually enjoyed the process of trying something new (plus it’s really good). Julia made it this week for lunches and we are both fans.
So take breaks, save recipes for your future self (you can do this in evernote, on Instagram, in a google spreadsheet, on Youtube, via the NYT cooking app, whatever works), and make things you’re excited about. Every meal doesn’t have to be lifechanging. But since we have to do it all the time now, you might as well try to make it fun. Music or podcasts also help if you’re getting bored of hanging in the kitchen.
How is the energy in NYC during this time & and what are you doing to keep a sense of normalcy?
I’m a native New Yorker so I was always going to be stuck here. My parents are in Queens and I’m in Brooklyn. New Yorkers are absolutely struggling and the conditions that essential workers are facing are unacceptable (crowded subways, lack of PPE, no paid sick leave for many frontline workers).
Moodwise, it’s up and down. Everyone loves the cheers for healthcare workers at 7 p.m. and my friends who live near hospitals report constant ambulance sounds. I’ve had conversations with friends about the appeal of cars for the first time in years. Having another space where I could sit safely and have some alone time sounds heavenly tbh. There are struggles to quarantining here that are hard to imagine if you don’t live in a city: no outdoor space, close neighbors, narrow sidewalks, etc.
Many of us are glued to Governor Cuomo’s daily press conferences, which report we are at or near the peak. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but that is good news. I know many people quarantining alone and have been very impressed by the support people are showing each other, dropping off snacks or books to swap, scheduling check-ins, and picking up groceries for one another. Given the sheer number of cases here, everyone I know, including myself, knows multiple people with Covid (tested or not), which I know is not the case in most places right now.
A sense of normalcy is hard to come by for sure. This certainly isn’t normal and I don’t want to “get used to it” but I also don’t need to be in a constant state of panic (thanks, therapy). I’ve been taking almost daily walks, watching tik toks, doing random youtube workouts (keeping track of IG live schedules is a no for me, plus they’re quite glitchy), cooking a ton, reading, zooming with friends and family, and taking things one day at a time. I’ve been ordering takeout once or twice a week which has been huge. It makes a night feel special and I love eating something I haven’t cooked. Weekends have definitely been tougher because the days just feel so long, so I’m still figuring that out.
What should I make with celery (no soups or stews)?
I’ve been a vegetarian for many years and I still associate celery with buffalo wings. A group of boys in my freshman dorm used to do Wing Wednesdays and I would hover over the greasy box of chicken and steal the celery sticks, dipping them into the blue cheese dressing and trying not to think about cross-contamination. I think celery is best with a creamy dip: blue cheese, sour cream and onion, ranch, spinach artichoke, etc. The good news: you can make all of these dips at home (sub yogurt for sour cream if needed). The crunch is the best part. I also like good old fashioned ants on a log and this olive, parmesan, celery salad looks very elegant for happy hour.
If your celery is a little soggy, put it in a cup of water and it should perk back up.
Your favorite thing from each food group. Go.
Admittedly, I had to google the food groups. This was really hard!
Breads/cereals: Pizza or pizza dough (does this count?) My runner up is oatmeal.
Milk/yogurt/cheese: Cheese! Specifically a good mozzarella or parmesan.
Meat/fish/eggs/nuts/legumes: Eggs! So versatile. Or peanuts so I wouldn’t have to live without peanut butter!
What do you struggle with when it comes to skincare?
This question is definitely from a bot, but I will answer it. I struggle with knowing if any product is actually working and with running out of various things and feeling guilty about spending money to replace them/make a worker deliver them. Like most of the country, I’m also struggling with dry skin from all the handwashing. Fun times!
Thank you for all your questions and I’ll see you on Monday. If you want to play along, share your picks from each food group in the comments!
Stay safe and stay inside!