Between April showers and the ongoing directive to stay at home, some days may seem a little gloomy right now. But as the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. Perhaps there’s no better time to remind ourselves that there’s light after dark and brighter days await. In the meantime, I invite you to step into my virtual kitchen, have a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy the latest installment of Favorite Things!
Just yesterday, I entered a medical building for a necessary doctor’s appointment where I encountered my first temperature check. (Trust me, I wanted to stay home!) Everyone in the office wore masks, and there was a protocol unlike any I had ever seen. When I asked, a nurse told me they have one mask and reuse it all day, every day.
As I sit down to write this post, it’s hard to think of the right words. We’ve been cooped up for a little too long now. Many of us are fearful for our own health or that of a loved one. And we don’t know when it will end.
I don’t want to ignore the obvious, but amidst the ongoing crisis, we also need an escape. So while this month’s Favorite Things post offers a few helpful tips that relate to the crisis at hand, I figured the best I could offer my loyal readers is a sense of normalcy. And anyone who knows me knows that my “normal” is full of humor, appreciation for the “little things,” and just a little bit of quirkiness. Oh, and recipes, too!
So grab your cup of coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and let’s pretend we’re sitting across from one another (my kitchen or yours?), chatting about what we’re going to make for dinner, and perhaps playing a round of the ridiculously silly (but oh-so much fun!) game you will see below. ☂️🌈🌷
My favorite “little pleasures” while staying in
- Waking up without an alarm clock
- Eating breakfast in my pajamas instead of getting dressed right away
- …and how wearing jeans suddenly feels like dressing up!
- Taking more walks － some long, some short
- Seeing so many people who are also taking more walks, which allows for lots of friendly conversation and needed social engagement (honoring the proper distancing, of course!)
- Playing games (see the following short video clips of the truly silly ones!)
- More phone calls that are not spam!
📺Favorite Current TV Show
For a welcome break from 24-7 news, my family has enjoyed watching the latest season of Survivor ⇩⇩ together every Wednesday at 8:00pm. The show is in its 40th season and is currently pitting 20 former winners against one another for the customary 40 days on a deserted island where they attempt to outwit, outplay and ultimately outlast one another to win the title of sole survivor－and a cash prize of $2,000,000! During this time, the players form tenuous alliances, vie to win all sorts of physical challenges, gain advantages, etc. If you haven’t tuned in yet, you can start episode one on demand. This show is truly fun for any age. If you can’t watch it with your family, it’s fun to compare notes later!
🍿Favorite Recent Movie
🎵Song of the month
Burt Bacharach’s classic “What the World Needs Now” performed by quarantined Berklee College of Music students. Click here for the musical video, complements of NPR. It’s really a feel-good couple of minutes.
✏️ Favorite New Word of the Month
Edacious: relating to or given to eating; having an insatiable appetite (Examples: “Her priority was planning the edacious elements of the party.” “She knew her edacious uncle would eat at least twice as much as any other guest.”)
❓Reader question of the month (which leads to my favorite tips of the month!)
Is white vinegar a strong disinfectant. If not, what would you suggest in its place?
The reader who asked this question is a fan of my Orange Vinegar, a reader-favorite, all-natural, DIY cleaner. While I do like vinegar for general household cleaning, lately I’ve been using a spray bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol. Look for a bottle that says 70% or above, as is currently being recommended by the CDC. In lieu of a spray bottle, you could saturate a clean rag or paper towel for wiping down various surfaces.
As an equally good alternative, a physician friend recommended diaper wipes, but with one caveat: the wipes must contain alcohol. Sensitive skin wipes and packages marked “natural care” usually do not contain alcohol, which is what makes them effective. When buying wipes, look at the ingredient list and make sure alcohol is on it.
Helpful hint: place a few wipes or alcohol-saturated paper towels in a zip-top bag and keep in your car. This way, you’ll have them at the ready when making your weekly grocery store run. When you get back into your car, immediately wipe your hands and phone if you used it in the store. You can also wipe down your steering wheel if you touched it before cleaning your hands.
If you’re being extra cautious, the wipes can also be used to swab off products that you purchased at the store. (This is currently being recommended by many health experts.)
📱Best way to clean your phone: Apple just updated its support page to say that you can clean your iPhone with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or Clorox disinfectant wipes. Note that too much moisture can damage a phone, so it’s best not to spray your phone with disinfectant. If using alcohol, spray it onto a cloth or microfiber wipe (I’ve used paper towels, and they work well, too) and thoroughly wipe your phone and case.
🐰Favorite Easter Recipes
All of these recipes complement the traditional Easter ham quite well, although they can be served with a variety of other proteins as well. All offer make-ahead convenience and all but the salad can be made ahead and frozen if desired. (This may be especially helpful for all of us who will have a smaller group around the table than usual this year.) The salad dressing can also be made well in advance and the salad itself can be mostly prepped earlier in the day.
- Baked Cheddar Spinach Squares can be served as a bite-size hot appetizer or cut into larger squares for a satisfying side. Leftovers are delicious.
- Corn Spoon Bread is a longtime family and reader favorite side dish, which tastes like a hybrid of cornbread and baked corn. It can conveniently be made ahead and reheated－or made well in advance and frozen. For those who need a gluten-free or homemade alternative to the Jiffy mix, here is my copycat version.
- The savory-sweet appeal of Baked Pineapple Casserole complements ham beautifully, and this lightened up rendition is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- Roquefort Pear or Apple Salad offers a delightfully light, crisp, crowd-pleasing salad to round out the traditional menu.
- Of course, no list would be complete without my grandmother’s recipes for Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs or their Coconut Cream Egg counterpart! ⇩⇩
🌼Favorite Flower of the Month
Bluebells…which happen to grow beautifully and prolifically at my in-laws house every April!
🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰 🌷 🐰
Favorite Way to Boil Eggs🥚🥚🥚
Steam them! Click HERE for the easy method, which ensures shells that slip right off.
🥚Favorite Recipes to use all those hard boiled eggs
- Spring and Summer Avocado Toast
- Deviled Egg Spread
- Stretch-a-Can-of-Tuna Salad
- Super Easy Egg & Avocado Salad
- Low Carb Mock Potato Salad
- Open-Faced Egg Sandwiches (Note: these are different than the usual egg sandwiches and are so good!)
- Classic Deviled Eggs
- Scrambled Hard Boiled Eggs
And favorite recent quote, as read in sidewalk chalk in a neighbor’s driveway
We stand united (but 6 feet apart LOL!) 🧍♀️ 🧍🏻♂️ 🧍🏾♀️ 🧍🏽♀️ 🧍🏼♂️ 🧍🏽♂️
And my very first videos on the blog, which funny enough, have nothing to do with food
👩🍳Reader Favorite Kitchen of the Month
I’m calling it a tie! I posted the first in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and never did I imagine that you would fall so head over heels in love with a green kitchen: “My favorite kitchen you’ve ever posted.” “Dream Kitchen.” “Perfect in every way.” “What’s not to love?” Many readers made a point of saying that it is the precise shade of green that won them over, along with the cheery brightness and efficient layout.
The below-pictured kitchen received similar raves for its clean, crisp lines, good natural sunlight, openness and ample storage space. “A beautiful small kitchen with everything within reach,” “It’s a 10,” and “Checks off all my boxes” were a handful of the adoring comments.
So that’s all for this month! As always, I welcome (and encourage) your comments and send you all my best wishes for happy cooking and the best of health.❤️