After nearly two years of living through the highs and lows of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve learned how to adjust our lifestyles to keep each other healthy. While we desperately longed for the days of “normal,” we also learned how to make do with the present. In the kitchen, this meant relying on basic pantry staples and recipes that weren’t too time-consuming on nights when we were all just plain tired of cooking.
And as we reflect on another year of pandemic life, there are some things — like well-worn recipes — that we have had enough of, plain and simple. This isn’t goodbye to banana bread, overnight oats, or sourdough starter; it’s just “see you in a bit, when we’ve had time to experiment with new things that don’t remind us of March 2020.” If you too are just over seeing (and making!) feta pasta and espresso martinis, here’s what to make instead:
We don’t want to see another piece of banana bread for at least three years. Back in March 2020, it felt like everyone was baking banana bread and eating it for every meal. Like a high school crush, we were once in love, have since moved on, and are better off for it. Now we have eyes for other quick breads, from zucchini to pumpkin to a Key lime-scented loaf.
Try we did, but many of us found that while we loved playing with our sourdough starters, we lacked the patience to spend three days on a loaf of bread. And sometimes, we were too busy feeding ourselves (and our new pets) to remember to feed our starters, and tossed them into the fridge for weeks at a time. We may hang onto those clusters of wild yeast and flour, but we need something lower key, like a sourdough treat to make in just a few hours, or a snack to make with the discard. And some of us, well, we need bread recipes that call for no starter at all.
TikTok feta pasta
Baked feta pasta went so viral it actually caused a run on feta in some areas. We loved the concept, but at this point, we’re ready for another one-pot pasta (or a twist on the original) to take center stage. Food52’s Brand Marketing Manager Rilka Noel admits to having cooked the TikTok phenomenon one too many times and is now leaning into anchovy-based pastas instead.
TikTok pancake cereal
We thought pancake cereal was very cute, but we also thought, “who’s got the time?!” Admittedly, many of us did in fact have time during certain moments these past two years, but at this point, we just want big, fluffy, diner-style pancakes. And when we’re craving cereal, we just may try our hands at a supermarket classic, or something warm and porridgy instead.
Once restaurants and bars began to re-open, many people couldn’t wait to get their hands on a bartender-made cocktail. It seemed that at the top of everyone’s list was the espresso martini. Maybe it’s because we were all tired and needed a jolt of caffeine to be able to socialize successfully, or maybe it’s because Timothee Chalamet was spotted drinking one. At first, we couldn’t resist that sweet, coffee-flavored foam, but we’ve moved onto other classic cocktails and low-ABV (or no ABV) beverages too.
Pots of beans
Just kidding! I’ll never tire of a big pot of beans cooked from dry. But when I want dinner a bit quicker or more hands-off, I know there are speedier ways to achieve bean-satisfaction: switching to canned.
Focaccia gardens — as in, the concept of arranging colorful ingredient on a proofed but unbaked tray of focaccia — are still extremely adorable, but quite frankly, we want to get to our bread faster these days, and like to keep things simple and classic. The fact that one of these focaccia recipes requires no kneading at all is a major win in our (recipe) book.
Overnight oats are like that reliable pair of pants you’ll never get rid of, but are never too excited about wearing. We’re not telling you to throw out your jars (or that pair of charcoal straight-leg trousers), but we are saying that there’s a whole lot more out there when it comes to hearty, make-ahead breakfasts.
Chicken noodle soup
PSA: This is not to say we’re done with chicken noodle soup. But it is possible to overdo it on a beloved comfort food, especially after eating it for weeks when you were feeling under the weather. We’re taking a break from our favorite simple CNS (is that a thing? It is now!) and swapping in some riffs, from rotisserie chicken to chile crisp.
In the very early days of the pandemic, when it was best to limit trips to the grocery store, we stretched our pantries to their limits. These days, if you’re feeling like making a meal that might require visiting a few specialty stores, put on your mask and get to it. While each store will likely have its own safety policies in place, when it comes to indoor activities like grocery shopping, the CDC says, “if you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the virus that causes COVID-19 and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
Talking about “quarantine 15”
Odds are you’ve heard someone worrying about gaining weight after moving around less and eating more during the pandemic. We’re here to say it loud and clear: Who cares?! We are so, so over people assigning morality to ingredients, recipes, and body types. Eat food, live life. The pandemic has been taxing enough without worrying about if your jeans from 2019 still fit. The Food52 mission statement really says it best: Our interest is “helping everyone enjoy life’s most important pleasures — food, home, and connection to others.” Keywords: enjoy + food.