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Nicole Masika checks in with more kitchen inspirations while working (and cooking) from home. 


I've always had a passion for baking, but I have to admit that even I fell into the current "stress baking" phenomenon that is emptying the store shelves of flour. It becomes a little trickier getting rid of the excess goodies when I don't see my student employees anymore. My younger son - who could usually be counted on to inhale most of my baking -  is not part of my household now, but I managed to safely hand some off to him. As long as I don't eat too much of it, baking is not the worst thing to be doing. It helps keep me in my zone and, most importantly, not glued to the news! 

I am still enjoying baking up goodies as we enter our fifth week at home, but have started to think more about cooking healthier options as well. As I'm not certified to wax poetic on nutrition, let me relay this excellent (and quick) read on diet and immunity from a registered dietician, which inspired me to pivot in my home kitchen. I've turned my attention back to loading up on veggies, legumes, whole grains and fermented dairy products. Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver is a good example of the direction I'm going with my recipes these days.  

Being home to keep an eye on things does help some of the more involved cooking processes these foods require. I still use my crockpot, but can choose to simmer a soup or stew on the stove if I like.  I usually do homemade yogurt overnight since it needs to sit for 6-7 hours, but now I can make it during the day. A short walk to the kitchen between Zoom meetings might be long enough to make my own salad dressing with fresh garlic, so that has been happening a little more often than before. Then today came my so-called "Pandemic Potato Salad": a bit more of the colorful antioxidant supplying veggies in it than usual (though my mom's recipe was already more full of vegetable variety than some) and - the kicker - I put a mask on it!  You might think being home alone is getting to me, but silly food is something that started when my sons were little and we made ghoulish things for Halloween, which carried over into other occasions. 

The biggest change in my kitchen during this quarantine isn't any new ingredients or recipes, it's the fact that I've been able to grow plants before Mother's Day! Typically I am able to get a few herb starter plants to grow on my deck by now. I tend to forget to water things in the hustle and bustle of "normalcy" so I have never started new plants myself, but I was inspired by a friend's social media post and learned how to get lettuce and green onions started in water from the trimmings you would normally toss - and they have both graduated to dirt pots! I think this gardening thing might be "growing" on me...

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Nicole Masika
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