Cook Through This

Good morning. How are you? It’s been nine months of this for a lot of us, and even if the vaccine news is good, it’s not like we’ll be crowding into Katz’s for pastrami any time soon. We’re exhausted. We’re exhausted by so much: anxiety, grief, employment worries, childcare issues, food insecurity, general uneasiness about the state of the world.

Yes, there are pleasures to be found in friendship and family, on our screens and in our libraries, in long walks and the kindness of strangers. But it’s worth acknowledging where we are right now and what that really means. It’s going to take a lot to bring us back to something approaching normalcy. These are hard times. I know that.

I know that and still I come here to say that cooking can help. It’s been my argument from the start. You prepare food for yourself, for others, and in so doing achieve a momentary, fleeting reprieve. It’s not nothing, to do that in the middle of a pandemic. Cook with what you have, in what little or what great amounts, and you’re providing nourishment that goes well beyond the calories served. I believe so, anyway.

Cook what, you ask? Maybe these skillet pork chops with blistered grapes? Or this elegant pan-roasted chicken in cream sauce, which may call for morels but absolutely does not demand them? It’s just great with supermarket mushrooms. I love that dish very much.

But I also like this hot and sour dumpling soup, which employs store-bought dumplings in a near-perfect way. Also, this midnight pasta with roasted garlic, olive oil and chile (above). And this spicy tomato-coconut bisque with shrimp and mushrooms.

I like leeks with anchovy butter alongside a roast chicken. I like smash burgers and Juicy Lucys. I like roasted carrot salads. And dirty chai earthquake cookies. I like anything that makes you happy at the table or in the kitchen.

So take a look at NYT Cooking and see if you can find something to bring a smile to your face — or to someone’s face. Then save the recipes you want to cook. You can rate the ones you’ve made. You can leave notes on them, too, if you want to remind yourself of something you did to make the dish better, or if you want to tell your fellow subscribers about it.

Yes, you need to be a subscriber. Subscriptions are what makes NYT Cooking possible. They are what allow us to continue. Please, if you haven’t already, I hope you will subscribe to NYT Cooking today.

We’ll be with you when you do. We are standing by to help if you run into rough weather in the kitchen, or find yourself flummoxed by our technology. Just write: [email protected] Someone will get back to you, I promise.

Now, won’t you please read this lovely Ligaya Mishan meditation, in T, on the Japanese love of fugu, maybe the world’s most dangerous food?

It’s nothing to do with caul fat or gooseberries, but did you see “The Year in Pictures,” in The Times? You’ll want to spend some time with that.

I missed it at first, maybe you did, too, but it’s worth reading Jay McInerney on the 40th anniversary of the Odeon, in Town and Country, “basically a nightclub without dancing, a salon with a wine list and steak frites.”

This is WizKid, “Ginger,” featuring Burna Boy.

Finally, if you want to get a sense of an amazing life, get a hold of “Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols, as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends,” by Ash Carter and Sam Kashner. And I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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