After graduating in December, I decided to take a couple of months off to relax and do some traveling. I managed to do some camping just as the coronavirus hit, but now we have been ordered to shelter in place. Here are some things I have been doing and that maybe you can do to occupy your time.
1. Read a book. A really big book.
I leaned into the pandemic and chose Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. It’s 782 pages of unsettling suspense amidst the deep, familiar shadows of uncomfortable current events. I’m also reading The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.
2. Practice your whisky tasting.
I had an unopened bottle of Highland Park 12 yo ‘Viking Honour’ Whisky that was given to me by my dear friend, Erin. I would have shared with her, but she is not a whisky drinker. So, I poured myself a dram in a classic Glencairn whisky glass, tasted the whisky with and without water, and compared notes with my favorite whisky reviewer – Ralfy.
Ralfy’s tasting notes: “Nose – clean, slightly phenolic, fragrant, some Cranberry, toffee, sultana, little bit fusile… little bit of apricot in the background, some spicy notes including cardamom and nutmeg…” After tasting, he goes on: “…some phenolic, minty, twiggy, toffee, apricot, some ginger, barley sugar…”
Jimmy’s tasting notes: Tastes like… whisky? Yes, this is definitely whisky.
3. Get a side-hustle.
I would recommend something that can be marketed and sold online (make-up and jewelry are popular choices), but I can’t even be bothered to follow my own advice and went a different way. I became a shopper for Shipt. Shipt shoppers are classified as essential workers, which puts me out of the house, and theoretically in harm’s way. But I like the job, because it is relatively low stress, has a decent return, and most importantly, helps stay-at-home moms, immunodeficient people, and elderly folks, all of whom have had smiles on their faces when I delivered their groceries, which goes a long way towards adjusting my own mood and disposition in these sometimes trying days. It also almost guarantees that I get my 7000 steps each day.
4. Take 7000 steps every day.
I’ll admit that I sometimes get my 7000 steps by anxiously pacing around my house, especially if I am also suffering from insomnia, but instead, I would recommend taking a walk outside every day so that you can enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. I do that, too. And when I do, I sometimes…
5. Eat a piece of fruit straight off the tree.
This won’t be possible for everyone, but while you are on your walk, be on the lookout for fruit trees. Now is the time. My neighbor has a loquat tree which hangs over into my back yard, so it’s a little like I have a loquat tree, and there is nothing so joyful and satisfying than to pick a delicious loquat fruit and eat it straight off the tree.
6. Watch the fireflies.
Take your walk at dusk and you can spot fireflies here in Central Texas in May, June, and July.
7. Read some poetry.
Here is one about fireflies:
Fireflies in the Garden BY ROBERT FROST Here come real stars to fill the upper skies, And here on earth come emulating flies, That though they never equal stars in size, (And they were never really stars at heart) Achieve at times a very star-like start. Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.
8. Cook something new.
Now is the time for comfort food, so I used a Gordon Ramsay recipe to make braised Sticky Pork Ribs for Erin.
- 1 kg pork ribs, separated
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes (to taste)
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 whole star anise
- 4 tbsp honey
- 150ml soy sauce
- 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 300ml rice wine or medium dry sherry
- 5 spring onions, sliced
- 400ml chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Season the ribs with salt and pepper, pushing the seasoning into the meat. Heat a roasting tray on the stove with a little olive oil and brown the ribs for 5-10 minutes until they are colored on all sides.
Add the garlic, ginger, chili flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise and honey and continue to cook over the heat for 2 minutes until the honey begins to caramelize. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and rice wine and bring to the boil, simmering for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the flavors. Add the spring onions and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
Place the roasting dish back in the hot oven and cook for 1 hour until tender, turning the ribs halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the pan from the oven and place back on the stove. Heat the marinade and reduce for 8-10 minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Turn the ribs in the sauce to ensure theyâ€™re fully coated. Serve â€“ with corn and lots of napkins.
Please pin, tweet, and share! Most importantly, let me know what you have been doing during the pandemic in the comments below.