AT HOME // elspeth

I have always been a homebody. I like to be at home, and I enjoy the work that happens at home. I don't mind days on end in a small perimeter. And yet this shutdown is so hard, in so many different ways.  

I feel immensely for those stuck inside. For those who are sick, or have lost loved ones, or are struggling to regain easy breathes or the ability to smell and taste. 

And I feel the uneasiness, the uncertainty. 

The uncertainty is big and hard to hold. 

We keep remarking in our house on spring. It is something to hold onto: the daily unfolding, the way each new discovery feels like a gift. We are experiencing each small change like never before. We exclaim with excitement over the return of the hummingbirds, the first foray of the bumblebees, the slow unfolding of the leaves. We wonder if it has been here all along, or if this spring is more magnificent somehow. We don't know. 

I want to sit with that uncertainty for a while. 

It is easy, I know, to dismiss this as privilege. People need to eat, Elspeth! People need money, people need each other. And there is truth in that dismissal. But I don't want to rush back to normal. No change will come from returning to the hurry we were in before. People have not been eating, people have not had enough money, we have not had each other. To return to normal is another kind of privilege, another kind of dismissal.

This pause is the closest we've ever come in my lifetime to real change. It's an invitation: to examine our relationships with each other, with our days, with money, with time, with our world. 

Let's feed people. Let's be generous. And let's take our time, holding the uncertainty. Letting it rise. Letting it take shape.

P.S. We have been cooking. A lot! Every meal, every snack.

—On afternoons when the girls start to feel at loose ends, I've been letting them choose a kitchen project. They pretty much always choose sweets, and the other day Sally lobbied hard for a rhubarb tart. We found one that was a cross between stewed rhubarb and lemon curd all folded into a nut-based crust, and it was SO GOOD. (Notes: we've been trying to cook more with nuts in our kitchen—inspired by the research I've been doing on shifting from perennial grain crops to tree nuts for staple foods, and we swapped the crust ratios here to use 1 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.)

—Now that the chickens have ramped up and the garden is coming in, we're overrun with eggs and greens and exploring creative ways to use the abundance! I've been itching for this spanikopita but our local market is out of phyllo dough, so we tried this recipe for "Bastaria," a phyllo-less version. It's like a feta-egg-spinach cobbler, which sounds strange, but is lovely in a homey kind of way. Best of all, it's good hot or room temperature, so it's an easy make-ahead dinner.

—I posted this carrot soup over a decade ago, and I still make it all the time. It's so simple, so quick, so nutritious, and so satisfying. Also, we've been buying bulk with a few other families from our restaurant supplier during the shutdown to both avoid the grocery store and keep a little business headed their way, and when no one else wanted carrots we ended up with a 50 pound bag. Carrot soup !

—While we've mostly been eating seafood for protein, we feel very lucky to still have a few of the chickens we raised last summer in our freezer. We bought a case of cabbages early on, and holy moly if you have a chicken and a cabbage and have yet to enjoy the schmaltzy delight that is a whole chicken on a whole cabbage, don't wait another second.

—Last but not least, Excursion Bars. They're keeping us putting one foot in front of another as we move in tandem. Walnuts! Chocolate! Raisins! Oats. Featured in this week's Provincetown Independent along with a lot of other great local reads.

I think that's it. Big love your way. 


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.