covid

Like many others, I’ve found myself with a lot of time on my hands for the past month or so. Initially, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to catch up (and get ahead) on the many blog/social media items I’ve had on pause for the past few years, a remnant of when I was finishing up The Heritage Cookbook. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

Social distancing, or as I have grown to call it, physical distancing, has been relatively drama-free for our household, but our daily habits have evolved. We are taking the concept seriously, because I am on immunosuppressant medication, as well as the fact that we live with my in-laws, who are of a high-risk age (or kupuna, as they say here in Hawaii). My wife makes a weekly grocery trip to replenish our pantry and fridge, and we dedicate two dinners each week to ordering takeout to boost the local economy. I have adjusted to a work-from-home environment, and the military has relaxed its grooming standards; I’m getting used to long hair. I developed a homeschooling curriculum for our fifth-grade son, to supplement the schoolwork his teachers are giving him, and we’re teaching our youngest to read.

Admittedly, even with six people in the house, it’s easy to feel a sense of isolation from time to time. I never thought I’d be so happy to take a call from work, just to speak to someone new and satisfy my inherent human desire for a sense of belonging. My mother-in-law has been hardest hit from this isolation, as she has built a very strong circle of friends in our local area, whom she now cannot visit.

But as I’ve been looking through our pantry to devise our weekly meals, I’ve been making a habit of cooking with all of those back-of-the-shelf ingredients that have stacked up over the years. We had quite a collection of flours from my recipe testing during The Heritage Cookbook: multiple variations of einkorn, rye, and whole wheat. Rather than let them endure further neglect, I decided to start experimenting with these flours to perfect the beginner’s sourdough recipe I wrote for the book. So like a lot of other folks, I eventually fell into a rhythm of daily breadmaking — making way more than we could ever conceivable eat. Once the results were shareable, we started giving them out to extended family and my in-laws’ friends around our neighborhood, via mailbox delivery. Now, our neighbors have a reason to call my mother-in-law to chat, and it’s been easing her stay-at-home experience.

And yeah, this recipe isn’t “Paleo”, or gluten-free for that matter. It’s not an ideal food staple, nor is it high in nutrients. But it is fermented, so maybe it’s better for you than yeast-leavened bread. I eat a slice every few days, mostly to test its flavor but also to just enjoy my work. Rather than focus on what it isn’t, I’d rather look at what this Community Sourdough Bread has become in our household: a tool to share a little love to those around us, at a time when we’re all re-writing the rules.

I hope you and your loved ones are doing well, and staying safe and healthy. More soon.

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