I’ll speak for myself, but the second half-year of the pandemic has been way harder than the first. Boulder got its first snow on September 8th–six whole months ago!–and away went most opportunities for outdoor dining, coffee shop working, and socializing. If I felt like a fenced-in dog during the spring and summer, by this point I’m a caged animal.
Things that have kept me going in recent months: (as safe as humanly possible) road trips to see family in Texas and Arizona; running, swimming, Tina walking, and really anything that gets me out my head and away from my desk; a ton of good books (here’s everything I’ve read in 2021 so far); podcasts GALORE (a post on that is in the works); abundant Zooming, FaceTiming, and group texting with family and friends; and lots of fiddling and feasting in my happy place: the kitchen.
As a follow-up to this, here are some favorite meals from the last six months:
- Grilled Carrots, Steak, and Red Onion with Spicy Fish Sauce // This was the first recipe I made from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons–a gift from my super thoughtful friend and Rice teammate Britany–and I’m going to call it my favorite meal from 2020. I said it.
- Sweet Pea Soup with Coconut and Ginger // I love everything about In Bibi’s Kitchen, another gift from a sweet friend and Rice teammate, Halsey. (Those gals are objectively the BEST.) All the recipes come with stories from the African grandmothers who contributed them, and this flavorful soup from Comoros is a favorite so far.
- Birthday / Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board // Just about any occasion is worthy of a charcuterie board, so a week with 2 things to celebrate is doubly justifiable. Will and I followed our general philosophy spelled out here, and captured the assembly process in an Instagram Reel.
- Grandma Firth’s Meatballs // Will’s grandma’s meatballs have become a Christmas Eve / Dad’s birthday tradition in the Wade family, and this batch was extra special thanks to my sweet little helper Addie. My sister made this bibb salad with truffle vinaigrette and mimolette on the side, and it definitely gave our meatballs a run for their money.
- Homemade Basil Pasta // Pasta from scratch can be messy and labor intensive, but it’s so worth it. Will, his brother Peter, our sister-in-law Christine, and I added a ton of fresh basil to our dough, and were happy with the colorful and flavorful noodles that resulted.
- Chicken Shawarma Pitas // These came from the newest addition to my cookbook collection, which I’m already obsessed with (thanks, Mom!): Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. I love a meal with several components–the more, the better–and I got to try 6 new recipes for this meal alone. Loved it all!
- Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Cauliflower // Another “cookbook” that I’ve been plowing my way through since Christmas is a recipe collection my mom put together with nearly 100 family favorites. (Talk about a labor of love!) This herby parmesan cauliflower from RecipeTinEats is a mutual favorite.
- Pot Roast // Winter meals aren’t the most photogenic (see photo #9 too), but they’re some of the best, in my opinion. It’s hard to beat a good pot roast, and this one from my mom’s recipe collection hit the spot. Bread for dipping / scooping / mopping is a must!
- Chicken Pot Pie // Another winter classic: chicken pot pie! This version, which I made with my mom’s homemade crust recipe, made for one happy husband and several days of leftovers.
- Thanksgiving Feast for Two // Believe it or not, this feast was for just Will and I (fine, Tina helped a tiny bit). Our 2020 spread included a 19-lb. turkey, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, garlicky green beans, and a carrot pie (in no way healthy, and shockingly delicious).
- Farro and Roasted Carrot Salad with Apricots, Pistachios, and Whipped Ricotta // Another Six Seasons recipe, this farro salad is simple, fresh, a little sweet, and full of texture. I could riff on it daily and never burn out.
- Double-Layer Pumpkin Pie // It wouldn’t be a holiday in the Wade household without this layered pumpkin pie. I’ve been helping my mom make it since elementary school, and still jump at the chance to make (and eat!) it.
Two meals that didn’t *quite* make the cut but were serious contenders:
You do you, Ad.
Finally, one more that didn’t make the list because it came from Sweet Cow (Will knows the way to my heart), but this cookies and cream ice cream cake deserves inclusion nonetheless: