Cooking through quarantine BY Ruby taylor

It's been a little more than a month since Ann Arbor Public Schools shut down. It's been a little over a month of overwhelming anxiety, uncertainty, and shock. Of questions like "will someone I know be hurt by this virus?" and "when will I be able to hear my best friends laughing in person instead of through my phone?" and, perhaps the scariest of all: "will things ever go back to normal?". With questions like these swirling through my head, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. At first, I tried to fight these thoughts with busy work. I would wake up at 7:00 a.m. everyday to a schedule I'd written the night before, which stocked my day with never-ending activities down to the minute. There were no breaks, no dull moments, and no time to think about the terrifying state of the world.

However, this Shakespeare-in-quarantine productivity level dwindled and eventually ceased by the second week of our lockdown. My room had been organized and re-organized, my books read and re-read, and "abs" exercised and re-exercised. I was completely and utterly out of things to do. That meant it was time to think about the truly terrible and bizarre state of our world. And think I did. I spent hours each day pouring over articles, watching new briefings, and listening to radio pieces about Covid-19. Unsurprisingly, this hyper-informed approach proved unsustainable as well. It took both of these extremes for me to realize that the best thing I can be during this pandemic is kind to myself. The best things I can do are ones that make me truly happy. For me, that means cooking. And a lot of it. Whether I'm making a reliable comfort food, an exciting new dish, or something in between, I find immeasurable solace and respite in the kitchen. With a push from a friend, Linnea Verhey-Henke, who shares my love of cooking, I began sharing my culinary triumphs and tragedies online. We started an instagram account together, "2chefs1quarantine," where we post various creations we cook up. Friends, family members, teachers, and even a few strangers have since followed the account. In this time of social distancing, human connections are more important than ever. By asking and answering questions about everything from sourdough starters to edible flowers through this platform, I've been able to stay connected through food.

Below are just a few of our posts! We've had great fun putting our epicurean brains to work, sharing our creations, and staying (relatively) sane by doing so.

Tonight’s great feat! Basically's Baking Challenge tahini billionaire bars!!!! 2.5 hrs later I am a very happy camper. The bottom is sesame short bread, then tahini butterscotch (new fav food) and then plain old chocolate with sesame seeds. SO YUMMY!!!! We love project baking.
Pickling rainbow chard stems from our last Argus delivery! My first time pickling anything... what an exciting day! These cuties are soaking up rice vin, sriracha, caraway seeds, and garlic.
About to get nonsecular in here... I made matzot for Passover tomorrow! Although there are only 2 left... so maybe I’ll make them again tomorrow... they were SO YUMMY and very exciting to make because you’re on an 18 minute budget. They certainly look... rustic... but this is probably what the ancient Hebrews looked like so there you go! Chag Sameach!
Made peanut butter tofu broccoli stir fry for the fam tonight! My dad sous cheffed. We used the "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" cookbook from my parents co-op days in college! Very fun. They used to make this exact dish for their 40 housemates!
Guess what my beloved father found at the back of our fridge... Raspberry Jelly! So obviously I acted fast and whipped up some thumbprint cookies. What they lack in looks they make up for in yumminess!
Made dinner for the squad tonight! Spaghetti with a parmesan cream sauce and greens. Topped with some crunchy chickpeas that I fried with paprika and fennel seeds. Simple, cozy, gentle! Good for a day like today.
Pea pesto o’clock! We are out of normal pesto things so I made a super yum rendition w frozen peas, caramelized onions, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and many glugs of olive oil. Needless to say, she slapped! Was a big hit with the fam. And according to my charming and darling brother, peas are the most protein-rich veggie, so I might just be getting big after this meal.
Ina Garten calls this “Roasted Eggplant Dip,” but we call it “mush”. It is perhaps the yummiest food to exist. Maybe even better than jelly (I said it!). 2 red peppers, 1 big eggplant, 1 red onion, however many wrinkly tomatoes you’d like, and lots of EVOO baked at 400f for 45 min. So easy, so good! Sometimes we do this on pasta or grain, but I like it best by the forkful! The perfect comfort food for what feels like a cold winter day!
Good morning you guys! Today for breakfast I fried myself a very runny egg, wilted some spinach (health queen yes thank you! Also PRO TIP: if wilty spinach feels a little bland, then keep the stems and just throw them into the pan first! Then cover and let them vibe w whatever fat you’re using for a few mins before u put the leafy greens in... this way you will have some variation in texture in your greens), some cutie colorful tomatoes and an English muffin with my new fav food: Jelly! Also greens and egg are from Argus so points for local products!
The fam ate half of this before I could snap a pic (and by “the fam” I mean mostly me) BUT my first sourdough was very yum! Proud mom honestly. Wish she were a little more bubbly, but I’m not complaining! And there are plenty more loaves to come.
Pizza for dinner tonight!!! The president of Italy himself (Jordan De Padova) used his sage wisdom to guide me through making these guys step-by-step! Pizza number 1 is red pepper and onion. Pizza number 2 is leftover soy chorizo! Both delicious.
Made dinner for the fam tonight! Sweet potato, crumbled soy chorizo, caramelized onions, rosemary in the oven for 30 min, then added eggs on Top and baked for 8 minutes! Good way to clean out our fridge!
Homemade sourdough toast and Japanese sweet potato with leftover pea pesto for lunch!
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Communicator Chs