Cogitation 16 Friday 17 April 2020 Many kitchens are getting a workout during this time when life centers on staying at home, working from home, only going out for essential travel or getting groceries and medications, and safe-distance exercising–all for our own health and the health of others as we join virtual hands around the world in countering the spread of the respiratory disease Covid-19.
We’ll soon be at the end of the self-isolation quarantine we needed to do after returning from abroad. We had one online order of groceries delivered, a totally new experience. Friends have been super thoughtful in checking whether there’s anything we need. We’re doing well.
Now, get ready for a long sentence: We’re passing the time by doing domestic chores (a.k.a. as spring cleaning) reading, following daily exercises broadcast on our campus TV channel, having the noon meal delivered from the Greencroft kitchen, cooking, keeping an eye on the news, maintaining contact with people via phone and social media, watching The Crown on Netflix, playing card games, compiling this blog, and in quiet, reflective confidence seeking to balance body, mind and spirit, mindful of those who are ill, those who are caring for them, those turning the wheels of the supply-chain of medical equipment and supplies, those collaborating on treatment/vaccine, those waiting to go back to work, those on whom we depend for the best leadership the times demand.
Euripedes said, “Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.” Part of that strength is showing others, as we ourselves, love and food.
Featured image: Gwen, the angel who picked us up at the airport almost two weeks ago, on Wednesday appeared out of the blue and left a spring bouquet from her and Dean’s garden at our front door. “For friends who need to stay indoors. May the time go quickly!” the card said. Yes! Others, too, have cheered us in various ways. These elements of friendship are timeless. Thank you!
During these days I’ve turned my hand to tasks in the kitchen, washing or drying the dishes, also baking and cooking. Some of these pleasures are told in the stories of sweet and savory that follow.
Baking a sweet
For my first “creation” I made cookies, using ingredients we had on hand. I had to do some substitution, but the joy was in following my mother’s recipe for Health Cookies. I found the recipe in the 20th Anniversary Volunteer Cookbook of the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop in New Hamburg, Ontario, compiled by Margaret L. Weber (February 2001).
I did not have sunflower seeds, sesame seed, wheat germ or flax seed the recipe called for. Instead of rolled oats I used up our scant supply of steel cut oats, adding ground Chia seeds. To butter, sugar, flour, eggs (thankfully, cousin Phyllis had bought and delivered butter and eggs before we arrived home), baking powder, soda, salt, coconut flakes and raisins, I added a 3/4 cup of almond butter, omitting the walnuts. I call the recipe, What’s Handy Health Cookies.
The cookies turned out tasty, the first batches a bit crumbly–added more flour–healthful I hope. Rolled oats would have been an improvement.
Cooking a savory
The savory dish I made, again using supplies we had in the cupboard, was a noddle stew: a bag of noodles cooked in a quart and a half of chicken stock, to which I added one can each of stewed tomatoes, white beans and corn, salt, pepper and chili powder. Made us many meals, enhanced with hot sauce.
Creating more meals
In week two of our quarantine, we had groceries delivered from a local supermarket. That provided the ingredients needed to make a Salmon Chowder with the tin of salmon we had on hand. The recipe comes from Soups from Amish and Mennonite kitchens, collected and edited by Phyllis Pellman Good and Rachel Thomas Pellman, (Good Books 1982).
We have two paintings side by side in our den. One is of Heidelberg Castle in Germany. The other is of an elderly man smoking a long pipe, a tankard in hand, sitting outside a roadside inn. England? The continent? Not sure. It’s unclear whether the man lives at the inn or is simply resting after a walk. What is clear is that it’s an old, thatch-roofed building, has a resident cat, and it’s probably spring since the tree is leafed out, the upper window stands open, and it’s cool enough for coat and hat.
Whether castle, inn, or modern dwelling, home is where the heart is. With maybe a cat or dog, a balcony, terrace and garden. A place of sanctuary, sustenance, safety, shelter, stowage–yes, that ubiquitous space to store stuff. Oh, to be master in one’s own house.
Home is also a place to leave: first time away from home, university, job, gap year, journey, move, service, some nomadic adventure.
Home, too, is a place of return. A place to put one’s legs under the table. A place where you cross the threshold into a familiar setting that gives you a sense of calm, peace, contentment, rest and renewal. Hardly would one have thought that an order to stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, would be needed to help stop a disease.
May peoples everywhere appreciate anew what home is, needs to be, can be, and will be.
A hero at 99
Captain Tom Moore, in County Bedfordshire, England, inspired the nation with his resolve to raise 1,000 GBP for National Health Service Charities Together by the time of his 100th birthday on April 30, by walking 100 laps around his garden. He finished the last lap on 16 April and was featured on BBC Breakfast, Thursday 16 April (each lap was 82 feet / 25 metres long).
In nine days Capt Tom, pushing a walker in 10-lap installments, raised both spirits and money, the latter an indication of the former. His walker walks raised more than 14 million pounds. (Note of interest: In the UK, a common equivalent term for a walker is a Zimmer frame. Just like a facial tissue is often called a Kleenex, so the walker has acquired the name of Zimmer, of Zimmer Holdings, a company that manufactures many medical devices worldwide; it is headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, USA).
Donations came from 53 countries. While Capt Tom has plenty of space to move about, he said, “I’m thinking of people in small spaces and present my encouragement to all sticking to the rules to stay home. We’re a united nation and will continue to be.”
He added, “We will get through it in the end, but it might take time, but at the end of the day we shall all be okay again . . . the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.” Capt Tom paid special tribute to the nurses who had cared for him in hospital when he had a broken hip.
One of those who paid tribute to Capt Moore was actor/singer Michael Bell, who sang, You’ll never walk alone. So moving, inspiring, awash in tears.
In BBC News online on Monday (April 13) I saw the six criteria the World Health Organization issued for countries considering relaxing their lockdowns:
- Transitions should be controlled
- Health system capabilities are in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact
- Outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes
- Preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go
- Importation risks are managed
- Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norms”
It is so reassuring to have overarching guidance from a body with no other purpose than to bring health and well-being to people in my area, state, country and all around the globe.
Jolly good medicine
A friend passed along a 15-day COVID Diary, written by Anonymous, concerning self-isolation quarantine. I’ve selected five quotes.
Day 1: I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
Day 8: Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen.” You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have No clue how this place is still in business.”
Day 10: Struck up a conversation with a spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
Day 14: Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3-1.
Day 15: Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?
Views from our home
Prayers for the end of meals
God is in every place, at the kitchen sink and at the table.
Go forward in God’s strength.
-Both prayers are from Quaker Faith and Practice: The Book of Christian Discipline of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 2nd edition, 1999, Quaker Home Service. The prayers are included in Blessed Be Our Table, edited by Neil Paynter, Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007.
May peace, hope and love be upon our homes. And God’s grace continue to work itself out for all, for all humankind, for all creatures great and small.