As the coronavirus rages across the country and around world, there’s a lot of talk of solidarity. You know the clichés – united we stand, we’re all in this together and we’re all in the same boat. These strong words help us feel better and less alone. But here’s the thing, we’re not all in the same boat. We’re not even in the same ocean. I’d venture to say we’re weathering different storms.
If you grew up in New England or have lived here a while, you know about hurricanes. They generally wreak havoc in the Caribbean and down along the southern Atlantic and the Gulf coasts. Every few years, a hurricane will wind its way up north. However, by the time they reach us, they are a different storm. More often than not, they bring a little wind and a fair amount of rain. We spend the day in our cozy houses playing Scrabble and feeling grumpy because it’s too wet to walk.
That said, there are exceptions. My dad has been known to reach into his bag of stories and reminisce about the 1938 hurricane. Irene and Sandy are more recent reminders that not all tropical storms blow themselves out before reaching the northeast. For now, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are among those caught deep inside the covid hurricane. New Hampshire is on the fringe.
The coronavirus thrives in densely populated areas. The population in our little corner of rural New England is far from dense. Big cities and the suburbs that surround them have been thrashing about in open seas while we’ve been hunkered down in a quiet cove. Now is a very good time to live far from crowded subways and teaming streets. Next time I start to complain about the lack of public transportation or limited entertainment options, I hope I remember these days and stop grumbling.
Anyway, it’s a lovely thought, that we’re all in this together. However, whether you’re in the thick of the coronavirus storm or tucked in a safe harbor, the boats are different. The lucky ones are strapped into life jackets and safely ensconced in well-built, seaworthy vessels. Their pantries are stocked. Telecommuting may be inconvenient but their jobs are secure. Everyone who needs one has a laptop. They’ve been catching up on Netflix, putting jigsaw puzzles together and walking three miles a day. The family may be a little bored with each other’s company but cabin fever is rarely life threatening.
The less fortunate are crammed into leaky dinghies. These decrepit little boats are filled with people who live paycheck to paycheck. Except there is no paycheck because they’ve been laid off or furloughed. Now, they’re scrambling to get signed up for unemployment and figure out how to get and pay for health insurance. All the while, the kids are home and mom or dad or both are frantically trying to remember the definition of a parallelogram and how Pythagoras’ theorem works.
Another batch of dilapidated boats are filled with people with pre-existing conditions. Maybe they’re old or immune compromised, have a heart condition or asthma. Could be they are overweight or have diabetes. The coronavirus is a whole lot scarier if you’re in one of these boats. A strong, healthy young person with covid-19 might suffer the inconvenience of a cough and fever for a week or so. However, the virus can be deadly for anyone weakened by age or an underlying illness.
By the way, it’s also terrifying to have a family member or dear friend with a pre-existing condition. Here’s the reality that fills me with dread – if a loved one ends up in the hospital; they’ll be alone. Nurses, assistants, technicians and doctors will be with them but, as caring and wonderful as they are, they’re not family.
One last bit for locals – I was introduced to a new community organization last week. Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners (KNP) is dedicated to building a community of neighbors helping neighbors. If you need help or know someone who needs help – reach out. If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer – reach out.
That’s all for now. Be well, be safe and be kind. Bon appétit!
Baked Tortellini with Sausage, Eggplant, Spinach & Mushrooms
- Olive oil
- 1 small-medium eggplant, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced or chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 8-12 ounces your favorite precooked chicken sausage, cut in 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 pound fresh or frozen tortellini
- About 6 ounces baby spinach
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- About 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil or butter a large baking dish.
Lightly brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and, turning once, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender. Cut into bite-sized pieces and reserve.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium high, add the mushrooms and onion, sprinkle with the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and reserve.
Add the sausage to the skillet with a little more olive oil if necessary. Sauté until lightly browned. Reserve.
Cook the tortellini according to package directions.
Combine the marinara sauce, half & half and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pour the sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minute or until bubbling and nicely browned.
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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
How are you doing during the pandemic? Coping or not, feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020