Sparkling Isolation – Day 53

Culinary therapy.

Throughout this quarantine experience, my thoughts and feelings have veered wildly – up and down, up and down. Yesterday was a down. A very profound and nearly-debilitating down. Today has been much better – not fantastic, but compared to yesterday today is a veritable romp through the garden of joy.

The weather helped. Although it was cold (nearly down to freezing last night), the sun came out and the day became one of those rare, glorious spring days with abundant sunshine and a light breeze. The after-effects of yesterday’s meltdown still lingered in the morning and it took all the willpower I could muster to get dressed and leave the house.

I am so glad I did. The walk wasn’t long, but I wandered rather aimlessly through my neighborhood enjoying the spring flowers, the lush green grass, the breeze, the sunlight on my face. It wasn’t the same as walking in the woods or another natural environment, but with everyone quarantining there was little traffic so I could hear the sound of the birds without distraction.

I was already feeling better, but when I got home I received my first shipment from Imperfect Foods. I joined just as the quarantine began and my first order was placed on “indefinite” hold. Last week, I finally got the notice that it was on the way and today was the day!

As a single person living alone, I had not realized just how daunting it would be when I opened the box. Wow! It was an amazing array of fresh produce – carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, apples, oranges and peppers. I was stupefied, then realized that I also had produce in my house! I have mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic.

I have been told that diving into creative projects can be a type of therapy when we are down. I decided to use the creativity of food preparation to help get out of my funk and into a better space. Culinary therapy.

I blanched carrots and broccoli and froze them in individual portion sizes. I whipped up a batch of Lettuce & Potato Soup. Yes, I said lettuce. Don’t laugh – it’s delicious and can be frozen in batches, great both chilled and hot. I started the process of creating Freezer Pickles with the cucumbers and peppers I can freeze that in small batches as well once it’s done marinating for a few days.

Tomorrow, I plan to create my own improvised version of a ratatouille (sans eggplant) – another large batch of something that can be frozen in individual portion sizes. I plan to bake bread tomorrow as well. And who knows – maybe I will whip up a batch of cookies or a cake or something fun for dessert.

After a busy afternoon of prepping, cooking, and cleaning I sat down with a glass of wine and then joined a food friend via FaceTime to chat while we each prepared dinner and enjoyed a cocktail. We prepped, ate dinner, then had more post-dinner conversation for a total of nearly three hours of conversation. It wasn’t the same as being in person, but it was the closest thing I have had in a long time. It was a balm for my weary soul.

All of the nasty things that caused my meltdown yesterday are still out there and still weighing on my mind but most of them are entirely out of my control. Today, I found that my greatest therapy is finding something – anything – that I can control. I have total control over what I choose to eat – and the great bonus is that food preparation is a highly creative process for me. I don’t really use recipes – I like to just improvise and see what happens.

The world may be out of my control, but at least I can find peace in cooking. As Julia Child might have said, “Bon Appétit!”

It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.

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