One final monthly wrap-up to round out a full year of pandemic cooking. Well, a year-plus. I stretched this one a little long, because I wanted to come full circle with the two birthday celebrations that were part of the beginning of the pandemic last year, and celebrated within the last week this year. I can only hope that by the time March 2022 rolls around, we’ll have a more “normal” set of birthdays!
We tried a few more new recipes in the last weeks (I made picadillo and gnocchi for the first time, as well as carrot fritters!) , and had several celebrations, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, a dinner for Washington’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, and Turkey’s and Chickadee’s birthdays. We also indulged in both Beast Craft BBQ and Wing Runner.
I made lots of desserts and baked goods this month, too, including Oreo truffles, my first attempt at homemade pączki, a cherry pie, popovers, Frango mint brownies, a cannoli cake, pies for Pi Day, a Guinness cake, more cookies than I can count, and birthday desserts in the forms of a trifle and an elephant cake. We also had a Green River Soda cheesecake shipped from Eli’s, and it was amazing!
So there it is…a full year of cooking through a pandemic. I’ve pushed myself hard over the last year to make more special meals for my family, because it was one of the few things I could actually do for them. I also worked hard to try new things, because it was something exciting in the midst of a very dull time. When I look back on this period in our history, I hope I’ll remember the special meals and weekly cookie-baking sessions with Bunny as one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark time!
This is the penultimate month of a year of pandemic cooking. I certainly didn’t intend to do this for an entire year, but I also had no idea what a pandemic would look like or how long it would last when I began.
I guess after the last wrap-up, which was full of holiday meals, this one is pretty tame. We did celebrate a birthday and Burns Night in the last month-plus, and had a few family favorite dinners along the way, too.
Of course there wasn’t as much baking as last time, but we still made quite a few treats, including our traditional Epiphany baklava, a birthday truffle tower, and an amazing white chocolate lemon cheesecake:
Next month, I’ll finish up this year of pandemic cooking…I’ll probably cheat a bit, and wait until closer to the end of month to wrap things up, to make sure both of our family’s March birthdays get included in the summary!
I often take a look back at the holiday baking I did from Thanksgiving through Epiphany; this year, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the holiday meals and treats we’ve enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving dinner:
We had our pick out dinner on Christmas Day this time:
And our fancy Christmas dinner on the Sunday after Christmas:
Of course we had our traditional New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar:
And a special New Year’s Day dinner to start the new year right:
And finally, our Ryan’s Birthday/Epiphany feast:
On to the baking. There were pies for Thanksgiving:
And several cakes throughout the season, for St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Jesus’ Birthday, the fancy Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Day:
We baked so many Christmas cookies!
And an obligatory “other” section, for things like lussekattes, coffee cake, and even some special holiday beverages:
I put in a little extra effort this year, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere or do most of our normal Christmas activities. In the end, I think we’ll have a lot of delicious memories from this holiday season!
This has been a good month for cooking! We’ve had some favorite meals and some special meals, and we even had two different dinners from Portillo’s, because this time when I ordered our Italian beef and sausage combo I added in an order of tamales (totally delicious, and we have enough left in the freezer for another meal!). I’ll admit I was a little worried about being able to find everything I needed for all of our culinary traditions, but while I did have to enter a few more stores than I would have preferred, in the end I found everything that was necessary.
We also baked all of the things. I’m shocked there are any baking supplies left in our town. The kitchen still smells vaguely like a bakery!
And a few special beverages for the holidays…hot chocolate from our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar, wassail (which I’ve made a few times in the last two months), and homemade eggnog, which is a real treat!
You’d think that would be the end of fancy meals for a while, but Ryan’s birthday is tomorrow, so we’ll have at least one more special dinner in the next month!
Well, the holiday season is upon us, so not only is this a look back at the food I’ve been cooking over the last month or so, but also our first meals of the 2020 holiday season…Thanksgiving and its leftovers! We also got to try out the newest concept from Beast Craft BBQ, Beast Southern Kitchen and BBQ, which was a nice treat, and a nice break for me!
Of course a main feature of the holidays is baking. We’ve not only made our weekly cookies, but also a fleet of pies for Thanksgiving! Oh, and a pumpkin roll for Saint Nicholas Day:
The best holiday meals are yet to come, and all of our Christmas baking!
I think I have the school/cooking routine down pretty well at this point, although some days, it seems like I go straight from the school room to the kitchen. That’s weird, because I usually cook all of our dinners, even in pre-COVID-19 days. But for the last seven (?!?) months, I’ve certainly been putting more effort in, because it’s really the only thing I can do for my family, so it’s still kind of a learning curve, even though it doesn’t seem like it should be. We’ve had some favorite recipes in the last month (both chicken and steak shawarma, plus our favorite chicken with grapes and couscous, not to mention breakfast-for-dinner several times), and tried a few new things (a stir-fry of my invention, creamy chicken noodle soup, and a new kind of chicken for tacos):
There has also been baking (and some frying), including apple cider donuts, pretzels, my award-winning apple and pumpkin bread, and our every-Sunday cookies:
I guess I’ll keep this up through the end of the year, because it’s always fun to keep track of what we’re eating during the holidays, and they’re getting awfully close!
Time for the sixth installment of cooking through a pandemic…can you believe it’s been a half a year?!?
Cooking for the last month or so has been a little more challenging for me now that we’re back to school. I did have a little help though…the night before school started, we had Portillo’s via mail order, the first day of school was frozen pizzas for the first in I don’t know how long, we ordered Pizza Hut one night when I just couldn’t anymore, and just yesterday, we tried out the newest concept by Beast Craft BBQ, Wing Runner STL. We also tried quite a few new recipes in the last month, some of which were huge hits!
We’ve kept up with baking cookies every Sunday after church, and we even added a new chocolate twist. We also baked brownies, a few cakes, and made baklava over Labor Day weekend since we couldn’t go to the St. Louis Greek Festival.
Maybe I’ll do this again next month, maybe I won’t…only time will tell!
If there’s anything that defines this summer beyond the “Summer of Hamilton,” it’s “Waffle Summer.” When I rearranged our summer school plans from Tokyo 2020 to cooking, the first thing I wanted to tackle was making waffles. They were such a big hit that we kept making them…every kind we could come up with. Plain waffles, cinnamon, chocolate (topped with ice cream for dessert!), pumpkin, lemon-poppyseed, savory cheese and bacon (topped with fried eggs), cinnamon roll, banana, tropical, gingerbread, blueberry, potato, and buttermilk all made an appearance.