Monday, May 10, 2021

Blogging in 2020 - The Year We Would Rather Forget

 The first couple of months of 2020 were fine, with little hints that something serious was coming, but mid-March our world changed completely, almost overnight.  COVID-19 virus turned virtually everything upside down and sideways. Quarantine, shortages of things that were understandable, like toilet paper, but also things that were unforeseeable, like yeast and flour. Stoppered up in our various homes, people took to baking banana bread and to starting sourdough starters and using them to bake bread! Many people all of a sudden had to figure out how to work from home, how to also have their kids go to school from home, and all this while we were being told to stay home! Comfy clothes became possible when all your employer and fellow employees saw was your upper half on Zoom. The devastation to the restaurant industry, the events and sports industries, and to the performance and movie industries was sudden and severe. All walks of life had layoffs and furloughs. The supply chain became so messed up that not only were goods not available much of the time, but the cargo containers from China piled up in American ports, so that prevented more shipments. For example, a friend whose refrigerator died found that there were almost no refrigerator in stock most places, so she bought the one she found, even though it wasn't what she wanted just so she could keep her food cold.

The worst of it, of course, were the thousands and thousands who became ill with COVID, those who died from it, and those who will likely never recover from it. The medical professionals did heroic work, but so did the people who clean the places they work, those who make sure that their supplies are there for them and the bills are paid for lights to keep working. Other heroes include the grocery and fast food workers and those who delivered the food, plus all the delivery drivers who allowed so many to stay home and not venture into stores. Low paid workers who care for our elderly were also on the front lines. Hairdressers, bar workers, gym folks, most of whom are low paid, also lost their jobs. The disparity between the lives of those well off and those struggling, especially people of color, became more glaring during this pandemic. Many people suffered and still suffer from depression and other conditions due to the upending of their usual lives and the stress of finding rent, money for food, help for children, loss of time with family, loss of fun with friends and so on. Not everyone is built to do well sitting at a computer all day, either.

This summary doesn't even touch on the election in November and our fires, which have become an annual part of late summer and early fall.

There were silver linings, too. The air during March and April and May was so clean. It was quieter without all the cars, buses, and airplanes going to and fro. In some families, people drew closer together during the enforced time together. My brother called it the Great Pause. It allowed us to examine all those things that kept us so busy before and decide which were important to continue once things returned to whatever 'normal' became. Those dear to us became dearer.

I spent a lot of those months in 2020 working on the farmhouse. It's was built in 1906 and with buildings that old it's a challenge to know what to fix and where to stop. It was a rental, but we are finding so many things that need work that right now it's a relaxed (as in don't expect too much) guest house. Our daughter came and stayed in March for Sweetie's birthday and we hope that she and her crew can come in the summer sometime, but we also have friends and other family whom we hope will visit now that we can be vaccinated. We have really missed time with friends and family!

So what happened on the blog in 2020? I posted 95 times, which is more often than some years and less than others, so about average. I'm going to start with just January and February with this post and continue the rest of the year in later post or posts.

 I started the year with a round-up of Bread Baking Babes posts, and then a post about my older brother's funeral. We had no idea that a few months later we would not have been able to gather much less toast him with Irish whiskey. For the gathering after his burial, I made a fruit salad that was refreshing.

A few posts later I talk about the Bale Grist Mill in Napa where we bought some freshly ground polenta. I included a recipe for Soft good! Photo by Jennifer Davick.

An easy and modern Lemon Tart was also posted in January. It uses olive oil instead of butter, so I was all about non-dairy, plus it tasted great.

Still in a mood for tarts, I also made a version of the classic Bakewell Tart in January.

For the Bread Baking Babes 12th Anniversary, I chose the French Le Pain Tordu, which is a twisted bread and is a specialty of the Lot-et-Garonne region, although there is also a version baked in Gers.

If you have a celebration coming where you need a larger than usual cake, you may want to try the Lemon Celebration Cake from February.

Last, but not least, I made some egg yolk rich Pancakes from scratch and topped them with a home made Raspberry Sauce you might enjoy.

Will be coming back soon with more months from the blog in 2020.

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