I have read several articles about how to be gentle with yourself during the lockdown. Personally, I think that’s weak. I have been waking up at 4:00 or 5:00 AM each day. I am intermittent fasting until at least 1:00 PM. We are having Meatless Mondays. My jeans still fit. I gave up wine last night. I have not had a panic attack in ages.

Do you want to know my secret?

It’s called omission.

I’m waking up at 4 or 5 AM because my head is spinning and I can’t sleep for several hours overnight. I’m intermittent fasting because I’m going back to bed until 11 AM most days. We have had Meatless Mondays because on that day the refrigerator was empty of meat. My jeans still fit because I haven’t worn them in a while. I gave up wine last night and traded it for vodka. I haven’t had a panic attack because I decided to up my anti-depressant.

You are not weak for feeling the way you do right now. You are not weak for wanting to comfort yourself during a very scary time. You are not letting yourself go if you are wearing comfortable clothes or not putting on makeup. You are not lazy if you take a nap or sleep late. You are not weak for being incredibly stressed with work, parenting, homeschooling, and housekeeping during a pandemic and an economic crisis. You are right to be worried about your health and your family and your job and your financial future. You are not weak if sometimes you are medicating or self-medicating (under a doctor’s care and within reason, of course).

Do you think during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic people were worried about whether they would have ripped abs after it was over? Do you think they obsessed about how many carbs they had that day? Do you think they considered themselves a failure if they didn’t emerge from the pandemic knowing French? Do you think the people who lived through the Great Depression would be guilt tripping themselves if they had an extra cookie? It seems pretty ludicrous through this lens, doesn’t it?

So take care of yourself. Get exercise because it’s good for your body and your brain and your stress levels, but for fuck’s sake, don’t worry about your abs right now. Unless that’s your thing and you like that challenge. Eat good quality food because it’s good for you and helps you stay healthy, but if I catch you counting carbs right now, I’m going to yell at you. Organize a closet if that’s what makes you feel good, but if you feel the need to sit on the couch and watch a movie in your Comfy with a glass of wine, do that instead.

This is hard. Your life has been turned upside down. Yet most of us have easy jobs in comparison to those really sacrificing right now. Remember that, but also remember that there will be no medals awarded for Best Abs During a Pandemic.

Crispy Grilled Chicken Wings

This is more of a method than a recipe, but we discussed it on Facebook Live the other night so I thought I’d share. To get crispy wings on the grill, toss 4 pounds split chicken wings with 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder (NOT baking soda), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and cracked black pepper to taste. This helps to dehydrate the skin and make them extra crispy on the grill. Cole says to grill them at 450F starting skin side down for about 20 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes or so, and putting them over hotter spots on the grill to get a little char on them if desired. He feels that if you keep them closer together on the grill, they stay juicier. Remove from grill and toss with your favorite buffalo or BBQ sauce recipe.

Black Beans and Rice

This makes a large pot of beans and rice, probably enough for 6-8 people as a main dish. The recipe is easily halved if that’s too much for you. If you would like, some chopped leftover chicken, sausage, or ham are all good in this too.

1 pound dried black beans soaked overnight and drained (or quick soak method from package)*
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 bay leaves 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste)
2 cups long grain white rice (well rinsed)
4 cups chicken broth 
2 bay leaves
Accompaniments/Toppings: Sour Cream, Lime Wedges, Chopped Cilantro, Chopped Avocado, Chopped Onions, Chopped Tomatoes, Hot Sauces

*If you don’t have time to soak the beans, you can use 3 or 4 15 oz. cans of black beans. Be sure to drain and rinse them. You will not need to give them any additional cooking time in step one.

  1. Cover soaked beans with water, 2 bay leaves, and 4 cloves of garlic. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes until beans are tender. Drain and set aside. Remove and discard garlic and bay leaves.
  2. In a stock pot or large pan, heat 3 T of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped red pepper, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices and saute until fragrant and slightly softened.
  3. Stir in rinsed and drained rice and saute about two minutes to toast the rice.
  4. Add in drained black beans, 4 cups of chicken broth, and two bay leaves. Reduce heat to low, stir well, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and add more salt/pepper or spices as needed. Remove bay leaves before serving.
  5. Serve with lots of accompaniments/toppings and plenty of hot sauce at the table.

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