Keep reading to see my Panzanella recipe, my take on an Italian stale bread salad that I have been making at home for lunch!
The gift of a normal day. In 2010, as I was reeling from the news that my mother had terminal leukemia, I read a blog with this same title. It had never struck me before how much I took a normal day for granted. Fast forward 10 years and I am in the same boat, albeit under different circumstances. Schools are closed for the foreseeable future, restaurants, small businesses and gyms have shuttered, and domestic and international travel has come to a screeching halt as the government has declared a global pandemic urging all to “self-quarantine” inside their homes for 14 days. It has not even been a week of this, but how I already long for the gift of a normal day.
In our effort, as parents of three kids under 18, to make the day as “normal” as possible by maintaining some semblance of a routine, I found myself in the position of having totally ignored the way our kids are internalizing the situation. I failed as a mom…not the first time for sure, but one in which I am not proud. These times are not normal, I tell them, and they may not be for some time.
Move forward, I keep telling myself as I wake up in the mornings with a dreaded sense of purposelessness. Let us never forget those who are less fortunate, never give up the faith that “this too shall pass”. These are my mantras that help push past the fear and anxiety for the future.
My mother, a self-proclaimed “Pollyanna” (aka optimist from the 1960 movie), wouldn’t have batted an eye. “We lived through the Great Depression, and you can do this!”, I can just hear her telling me as she adds another layer of foil to her recycled aluminum foil ball. And she would be right. There is a lot we can do, for others and for our own well being.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean that we distance ourselves from our communities, for they need us now more than ever. Amid the uncertainty of the future, this is just a small list of some of the ways we can make a difference today.
- Support your favorite restaurants, whatever that looks like. If they are open, dine in or order take out. If they are closed, order curbside/take out, purchase swag, gift cards, and post about their hours and services on social media. I saw a great idea online trend called #adoptarestaurant where a couple pledged to order every Thursday nights from their favorite sushi restaurant, Hana Japanese Eatery.
- Donate blood. The American Red Cross is urging all Americans, especially those who haven never donated before, to consider donating. Unsure if it is safe? Read this article. I read a statistic that in “normal” situations, the state of Arizona has a 2 day supply of blood and platelets. Imagine what that looks like now. I just signed up at vitalant.org.
- Help those less fortunate. You can donate canned food and other items to the St. Mary’s Food Bank, the United Way, and Goodwill. Blessings in a Backpack provides meals to children and Meals on Wheels provides meals to the elderly. Lastly, check on an elderly neighbor to see if there are any errands you can run for him/her, or any meals you can prepare. Every little bit helps.
What can you do for yourself and your family? As humans we crave predictability, so try to stick to some kind of schedule. I find that waking up about the same time every day (I know my husband is laughing at this) and taking a run or a hike helps start my day. Springtime is the best in the desert and we are so fortunate to have miles of hiking trails within minutes of our house.
We usually end the day with a family meal and either cards, a game or a movie. Some may say it sounds boring, but at least it is “normal”. As I am cooking a lot these days, I will be sharing more recipes. Please chime in as to what kind of recipes you would like to see in the comment section below. I had some stale bread on hand and prepared a recipe for Panzanella, an Italian bread salad, for lunch. It’s basically like a salad with lots of croutons. Mangia bene! xoM
Panzanella (Bread Salad)
- 3 cups French bread or boule, preferably stale
- 3-6 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp Agave syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 Persian cucumbers, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup Red onion, thinly sliced
- 15-20 Basil leaves, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp Capers
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes.
- While bread cubes are toasting, prepare the salad dressing by combining the garlic, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and agave in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Next, in a large bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, cucumbers, red onion, basil, parsley and capers in a bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!
Panzanella image by Marci Symington for TEXAZTASTE.com.