When reading George Hyde’s last post in OLLI Connects, I thought: Now I know I’m not alone in seeking ways to occupy myself during this period of quasi-hibernation. While this is a home of two readers, there are other activities that we of a certain age will be doing to exercise our spirits while at home for what now sounds like a couple of months. I’d like to know what you are doing to entertain yourself during these isolating times.
I just pulled five cookbooks off my shelf to entertain myself and share with you. The Black Sea, by a British journalist, Caroline Eden, is a travel guide and cookbook to the exotic world from Odessa to Trabzon. The recipes enrich the stories of her journey through this very ancient region. If things get back to normal, we hope to go there next year.
Midwest Made by Shauna Sever is a baking book that illustrates the many contributions immigrants made as they baked their way into the American Midwest. As a Midwesterner myself, I want to see how these goodies compare with those made by my grandmother. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat is a book to study. I’m going to read it cover to cover, because it promises to make me a better cook. There is also a Netflix series of the same name, featuring the author, with each episode devoted to one of these essential components. Even without the book, I recommend the Netflix series for inspiration.
Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard is a collection of stories and recipes from her home in North Carolina. She has a beautiful way with words, weaving together images from her youth and the simple, agricultural life she lived into a story of transforming a small Carolina town through her restaurant and the local producers who make farm-to-table food real. There is a PBS series with Ms. Howard cooking for you. Finally, I call your attention to Bravetart by Stella Parks simply because it’s fun to read and bake from, and these days can surely use some sweetening. Here you will discover how to make the homemade Girl Scout Thin Mints and Twinkies of your dreams. How about some banana pudding? Everything from this book works.
If those books aren’t enough to put you in a cooking frame of mind, check out Kitchen Arts and Letters, a cookbook shop in New York City, for more inspiration at kitchenartsandletters.com. You can find a blog by David Lebovitz for stay-at-home recipes at davidlebovitz.com. Kitchen inspiration is everywhere.
My husband, Shelly Belzer, is entertaining himself by carrying a camera on our morning (and now evening) walks, and taking pictures of people, dogs and mostly the light as it shifts through the Spanish moss on the oak trees of Tampa Palms Boulevard.
This is a time for looking carefully at the simple things around us. Beauty is everywhere. It is also an opportunity to experiment with different lenses, so he tells me.
So, take a moment now to share with the rest of the USF OLLI community what you are doing to keep your attitude healthy. We can all learn from and support one another.
[Please send your thoughts on what you’re up to during Coronavirus self isolation–carefully organized or spontaneously free form–to firstname.lastname@example.org. –Editor]
Jane Applegate Belzer, retired professor and Dean of USF’s College of Education, joined OLLI in 2012. She has taken OLLI classes in literature, art, history, lifestyles, nature and technology. Jane is a member of the Hiking SIG and the Faculty Support Team and the coordinator of the Food, Glorious Food! SIG. . She teaches A Course is Born: From Concept to Classroom, an OLLI course for prospective instructors. Her husband, Shelly, is the coordinator of the OLLI Shutterbugs SIG.