What I’m Doing: Celia Rivenbark

What I’m reading, doing, watching during the great unpleasantness…
by Celia Rivenbark

I have a ridiculously large cookbook collection, and, like most home cooks, I only use two with any regularity: The Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That? and Make It Ahead. Ina Garten never disappoints. (Don’t get me started on Martha Stewart who, IMHO, has no idea how to write a recipe that works. Am I saying she omits crucial steps and/or instructions? Mebbe.) I love to cook but this distasteful virus has made grocery shopping positively dangerous, even reckless. For someone who has never broken a bone, this is pretty heady stuff, heading into a Dystopian Harris-Teeter, feeling crushing guilt for running out for “just one more bottle of wine, box of broccoli cuts, etc.”

So what? So this. Instead of my normal nighttime ritual of going to sleep with a nice book on my Kindle (loved The Woman in the Window most recently) I, instead, lug into bed with me Alexander Stafford’s Bread Toast Crumbs. Because, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I’ve decided homemade bread is going to save my family. Maybe yours, too.

For the first time in my life, I’ve bought rapid rise yeast! Stafford, whose wonderful blog Alexandra’s Kitchen has given me a lifetime of recipe ideas over the years, devotes the book to, well, bread, toast and crumbs. The photography is so rich and abundant as to make you weep with desire for a poached egg atop crispy lemon-parsley crumbs. How better to go to sleep peacefully than to be wrapped in a cinnamon swirl of comfort?

So, yes, I will take up homemade bread making, beginning with the cinnamon-swirl loaf on page 98 and, from there? Maybe, just maybe, I’ll become the neighbor whose aging downtown house always smells of rye flour or buttermilk pull-apart rolls. In my family’s future is a focaccia studded with Kalamata olives that will make them thankful for all this forced togetherness!

Or not. In which case, let me share my other new obsession, which would never have happened if not for this miserable pandemic. Yes, it’s Letterkenny. Because I have the sense of humor of a sixth grade boy, and maybe you do, too, and this is the perfect antidote to these depressing times. Inoculate yourself against the gloom by watching this ridiculous Canadian sitcom on Hulu. It’s not for the easily offended but, damn, it’s funny.

Devouring homemade cinnamon bread while binging Letterkenny: it’s the answer, y’all.