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Apt. 11D
Laura McKenna's Publications and Posts

Making It Like Martha: Cooking, Sewing, Gardening Through the Pandemic, Apt. 11D, April 10, 2020

Hi all!

Some time in the early 90s, I discovered Martha Stewart. I was captivated by her pastel pictures of chicken eggs, collection of jadeite dishes, and perfectionist cooking shows. I bought her paints and sheets from Kmart. I started my own collection of jadeite dishes, which I still have in a box in the basement. 

Martha taught me how to cover a dining room chair and the correct way to roast asparagus. When I got married, a heavily post-it noted edition of Martha Stewart's Weddings was responsible for everything from my bouquet to my headpiece. 

By the time we got to the Oughts, Martha and I had parted ways. I was too busy with young children and jobs to think seriously about a béchamel sauce. While Steve and I still maintained a backyard garden and probably spent more time making homemade bone broth and pickled jalapeños than most people, we had also started outsourcing jobs, like the yard work and housecleaning. We went to restaurants more often. Like other professionals, we grew more distant from the means of production. 

In recent years, DIY home chores became so unfashionable that Martha Stewart became more well known for her strange celebrity partnership with Snoop Dogg, than her awesome home in Maine. I was fairly apologetic when explaining to others that I still held opinions about cooking delicata squash and organizing recipes. 

As we approach Week Three or Four of social distancing, I'm leaning into my Martha background. We're expanding our backyard garden with a new raised bed. Steve and Jonah are sprouting seeds under a florescent light in the family room.

"Make more! More!," I demanded. I am channelling my anxiety into food production. There will be some euthanasia of tomato seedlings in a few weeks, because our garden is finite, but I just want to make sure that every square foot of backyard dirt is used. 

Without much happy news to write about schools at the moment, I'm writing more leisurely about other topics and ramping up my weekend hobby of book selling. While all that is going on, dinner is bubbling away in a dutch oven filling the home with the smells of beef, red wine, and thyme. 

I don't have a sewing machine, so I chose to buy face masks from the crafty website - Etsy

Yesterday, I pulled out my stash of picture frames and old prints in the basement. I'm slowly dusting off the ones that still work, reprinting some old snapshots, and upgrading other frames

I'm also taking charge of my own health. Three or four different apps are monitoring my exercise and food consumption. I rarely remove my fitness tracker. I bought some new sneakers yesterday.

These apps all tell me that I really need to stop eating the "fun cheese" and crackers at 5:00 and should keep the wine for weekends. But one needs a reward, after a full day of home making during a pandemic. So, smoked gouda happy hour will be happening at my house tonight at 5:00. Feel free to join our zoom cocktail party!  

(More links below for cooking, gardening, and fitness.)

Be well! Laura

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(Image from the shop.) 

Above you can see our old garden bed. Amazingly enough the herbs never quite died over the winter. It must not have been cold enough. So, Steve made some awesome chimichurri sauce with the parsley, oregano, and jars of peppers that preserved back in the fall. 

On the blog this week, I made the mistake of trying to figure out the cost of the plague on our own family's finances. Won't do that again. I was also a downer about the economy was going to shift. Sorry. Sometimes, I gotta speak the truth. 

More show and tell about food shopping for a house of boys

I found some super old vellum books at an estate sale, before social distancing shut them all down. 

Must watch Rachel Ray’s Instagram cooking shows from her home kitchen in upstate New York. She is totally cute without makeup. 

I’ve taken photography classes on before. Excellent. Thinking about trying another topic, like business classes. 

Here are three new recipes that we tried and loved this week: Cheesy White-Bean Tomato BakeDeath By Chocolate MousseMade-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake

Best way to clean a shower. After you take a shower, squirt the whole thing with three different types of chemicals and walk away. It cleans itself! 

Have you organized your skin and nail care products? That’s my plan for the week, since there’s little chance that I’m going to a salon in the next few weeks.

Our family calendar announced that it is Erich Ludendorff's birthday today. He was my hubby's PhD dissertation subject, two decades ago, so he plugged in his birthday into iCal on automatic repeat many. years ago. So, Happy Crazy Nationalist Autocrat Day! Have you set up a family online calendar yet? It's super handy in normal times. 

Happiness equation

Some gardening links: what to plant next to each other, everybody is gardening now, best vegetables for semi-shady locations, and Wayfair has some nice kits for raised bed.  

I roasted everything for dinner on one tray this week: chicken thighs, potatoes and cauliflower. Want some ideas for one tray roasting meals? Try this.
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Laura McKenna · 861 Bingham Rd · Ridgewood, NJ 07450-2111 · USA

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