“It’s the end of the world as we know it…” The R.E.M. song has been playing in my head ever since the coronavirus put us all on lockdown. It’s been nearly a month since I set foot in a restaurant, a workplace, a grocery store, or a school. The Astronomer, June, and I are heeding the advice of experts and hunkering down for the foreseeable future. And while it hasn’t been the easiest of transitions, Michael Stipe was right…I feel fine.
Like most folks with similar interests and in similar lots, I have been doing a lot of pantry cooking and stress baking. The stove has been working hard these days — making big ol’ pots of bolognese, fried rice with forgotten and frost-bitten brats, cold peanut noodles with soy sauce packets, and more anchovy pasta than I care to admit.
The oven has been churning overtime too — baking up loaves of bread and most recently, this Meyer lemon upside-down cake from Nicole Rucker’s cookbook Dappled. The cake didn’t go entirely according to plan. For starters, I baked it in the wrong sized pan — the difference between an 8-inch and 9-inch round can’t be underestimated. And second of all, the sliced lemons, which were intended to pretty the cake’s surface, migrated all over its sides. Still, the texture and flavors turned out well — moist, fragrant, caramelized, and delicious. It brightened up our dinner table and our neighbors’ too. And these days, that’s more than enough.(more…)