The Best of 2020 – Yes. There Was SOME Good

This Best of 2020 blog was started in January, then I had a bout of depression, and then we decided to move in February and now, while I have a few quiet minutes I am finishing it. Enjoy and apologies for the tardiness.

Fuck 2020. Yes. We’ve all said it. The entire year was a complete shit show of monumental proportions. There were many disappointments, hardships, and losses of all kinds. Even though they suck, hardships allow for growth in my experience. We all learned to rethink our priorities in several areas. Learning who and what I can, and should, live without was liberating in a way. I eliminated toxic people, situations, and yes, even some foods that I found I could and should live without. My mental and physical health became more of a priority. I normally love to shop in person, but I learned to be a better online shopper and I tried produce delivery services to avoid going into the grocery store as frequently (the delivery services were hit or miss, so I still ended up in the store). I was outraged on behalf of my friends in the small business community when they were held to crippling standards that the big businesses here in Vegas were not expected to follow as stringently. Supporting locally owned businesses became even more of an imperative for our family. I wept for and with friends for many reasons. We all did.

2020 Had it All…NOT!

There was a lot missing in 2020. Celebrations. Dinner Parties. Trips and vacations of all kinds. And even though I was annoyed by virtually ALL of it, I found myself willingly and gracefully falling into the dreaded “new normal” – a phrase I despise BTW – of COVID dictated frameworks. Checklist before I leave the house – phone, purse, mask – CHECK! Who knew a mask could become a fashion accessory? One more place to wear sequins, glitter, and rhinestones! Who knew Stephen King’s The Stand would resonate so profoundly with me every time someone sneezed or coughed in my general vicinity?

2020 was not a year of eating dangerously. It was not a year of new restaurants tried. And yet, 2020 did yield some surprisingly happy things. It had its charms in new and unusual ways. Many rediscovered the joy of takeout and learned about food delivery services (and their usury practices and fees).  Some of us learned to cook new things at home. Hello, Sourdough anyone? Many of us pushed beyond our normal kitchen/culinary comfort zones in 2020. I know I did. I am not usually a “joiner”, but I joined a cookbook club and made some new “e-friends” who are VASTLY different than I. Being involved with this community renewed my passion for feeding those in need.

With all the trials and tribulations of 2020, here is my list of the Best of 2020:

Please Send Noodles – My Cookbook Club

Helmed by James Beard Award Winner Kim Foster, this book club is unlike any other I have belonged to before. Every other week I join a Zoom meeting with anyone else who is interested. We choose a cookbook, and for a month or so, cook from it learning new techniques, recipes, and more about ourselves. Cookbook authors have joined us for private cooking classes and Q & A sessions that were informative and fun. We also do a once a month “community cook” where we band together to feed those less fortunate than ourselves. This group was a balm to my ragged soul in 2020. I thank dear friend Gemini for inviting me, and I thank each active member for contributing and helping me see more of myself.

SecretBurger.com Cook-along Events

When the pandemic forced our local restaurants to close their doors, Jolene Mannina got creative as only she can do! Working with locally owned restaurants, she created limited edition cooking classes with the chefs. Instead of straight up take out, you picked up a pre-measured and prepped box of ingredients, and at a specified time, logged into FB and cooked along with the chef. BRILLIANT! A private cooking class with a local chef? SIGN ME UP! I was able to enjoy some of my fave dishes, like James Trees’ cacio e pepe. I learned his tricks to make it at home, and support locally as well. As much as I enjoyed all the meals cooked with the chefs, Nina Manchev from Forte Tapas is the best teacher on camera IMHO. Restaurants are now open again with limited seating, but Secret Burger is still doing amazing things. Click the link to find out more about upcoming events. Out of towners – this is your ticket to eating like a local…just sayin’.

Quarantine Kitchen with Nancy

Jolene’s cooking events encourage me to stretch my skill set a bit and I started doing online cooking with and for my sister Nancy. About once a month we select a recipe that she wants to learn how to make and I cook it LIVE on Facebook. This is one of the best of 2020 because it allowed me to stay more connected to my sister and out of town friends and I was able to do it through my love language of food. You can see all of the Quarantine Kitchen Videos on my YouTube Channel. While you’re there, take a sec and subscribe so you never miss a video class! If you want to know when the next one will be, be sure to “like” Good for Spooning on Facebook. It’s been a minute since we cooked together and it’s gonna be an even longer minute because I am moving and remodeling a kitchen (more on that soon).

My Sourdough Bread Adventures

From my previous blog you know that I learned to work with sourdough, and it truly is one of the best things from 2020. It’s not just the gorgeous boules that I have been turning out. I’ve branched into English Muffins and baguettes. I do love carbs and this is just a new way for me to love them.

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