I have a feeling this month is going to be a lot about trying to find clever ways to make delicious meals and treats from a well-stocked pantry and freezer. I’m going to see what I can do to blog a bit about that, because we’re all in this together, and I’ve been really inspired by everyone who’s doing their part to keep the most vulnerable members of our population safe and sound.
Speaking of our “vulnerable population,” I’ve been going back and forth about whether to share more about my own health, because it feels really personal, and I sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about it even with close friends and family, but I think it’s important to give a face to the vulnerable people we keep hearing about. It’s easy to think of it only in the abstract, or to think you don’t know anyone who might be at risk of complications. So while I definitely don’t feel comfortable going into great detail, I do want to let you guys know a little bit about my own situation.
Like most people, I’ve been spending a lot more time indoors these days. It’s been a few weeks of slowly adjusting—first giving up restaurants, then giving up group events (e.g., I cancelled a cooking class that was supposed to happen later today), then starting to more routinely work from home. Yesterday, after the first community-contracted case of the Coronavirus here in Melbourne, I finally started voluntarily self-isolating with a little more commitment, because I want to do my part in “flattening the curve” and making sure our healthcare system doesn’t end up totally overwhelmed and unable to provide medical care for everyone who needs it. In countries that have successfully slowed the spread in this way, the survival rate is much higher, because people are getting sick more gradually, rather than all at once, and hospitals are more able to handle cases.
But in addition to doing my part for my community, I’m self-isolating also to protect myself, because I’m a bit at risk for complications if I were to get sick. There are lots of people up against a lot more than I am, but I had lung surgery when I was in my twenties, and I’ve frequently gotten pneumonia and bronchitis ever since I was eleven. Luckily, I’ve been in really good health lately, especially the last five years. My lungs are not the worst, but they’re definitely not the best, and I’ve never taken them for granted.
I might get the virus eventually, and to be honest, I’m a bit worried for myself given my history. But odds are, I will probably be fine. I’m young and modern medicine is amazing—and in normal circumstances, dying of pneumonia is not high on my list of anxieties. However, if I were to get sick during a surge in infections, if things snowball out of control here like they’re snowballing in Italy and Iran, my chances of survival are much lower. If no one else in my community takes social distancing seriously, self isolating won’t be enough for me to avoid being infected, and an overrun healthcare system may not be able to help me. Or it may not be able to help someone else because of me. In either case, it doesn’t look good.
So if you’re trying to decide whether to socially distance yourself, it’s a pretty easy question to answer. At the end of the day, whether you’re low or high risk shouldn’t affect your decision. If you’re healthy, you should be socially distancing yourself to protect others who are not, as well as protecting those who absolutely have to go into the world (because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck, because without them society would shut down, or both!). If you’re at risk, you should be socially distancing yourself to protect yourself and others.
Social distancing is going to look different for everyone. Not everyone has the privilege to work from home. Not everyone is able to cook for themselves or care for themselves, and will not be able to go to the lengths I’m going to. You’ve just got to do whatever you can, and encourage others to do the same.
If you need motivation, think of the people in your life who might be affected by this more dramatically than you. If you don’t have a granny to think of, just let me know if you need a granny stand-in. Always happy to bake you some cookies once all this is over! 😉
For now, I’m sharing this recipe for berry sumac sorbet, which you can make with ingredients from your freezer and pantry. Just maybe don’t make an extra trip to the supermarket for some sumac if you’re out of stock (it’s still lovely without). See? Small steps! We can all do this together.Print
berry sumac sorbet
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: serves 4
- 16 oz bag of frozen mixed berries* (455g)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sumac** (10g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (3g)
- Place the berries, sugar, sumac, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until it breaks down into a frozen purée, and stop just as soon as it’s pretty much smooth (don’t over-process). Remove the blade, and press the sorbet down into the bottom of the food processor with the back of a spoon.
- It’s best served immediately, but you can store leftovers in a sealed container in the freezer (don’t let them thaw first, and be sure to freeze them right away). It sets up a little firmly in the freezer, but it softens to the perfect consistency after zapping it in the microwave for just a few seconds and then letting it sit for a minute (10 seconds in my microwave).
* Some bags of berries are 500g, in which case you’ll have some left for garnish. If not, no worries though!
** The sumac is here 100% for its tangy berry-heightening flavor—feel free to leave it out entirely if you want a plain mixed berry sorbet.