Once a week, on Wednesdays, Sam Sifton publishes a “No-Recipe Recipe” as part of his Editor’s email to readers of The New York Times’ food section. The dishes run the gamut from sophisticated sandwiches to chowder. His Hasselback Kielbasa (which emerges from the oven bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Giant African Millipede) has become a dinner staple at our house.
Since the early days of quarantine, when many ingredients were absent from supermarket shelves, we’ve leaned heavily on no-recipe recipes. Generally, they are easily adaptable and I tend to be an improvisational chef anyway.
There is no recipe for this year. Under normal circumstances, the process I am going through to restore myself to mental wellness, although challenging, would also be somewhat straightforward. Work with my psychiatrist to manage medication and engage with my therapist around the most significant aspects of my depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. In 2020, in addition to all of that, I’m also trying to manage living through a pandemic, an economic depression, and a social uprising. We all have a lot weighing on us and no cookbook to which to turn.
I’ve found that things I cook rarely look like the picture shown next to the recipe. In real life, there are no food stylists ready to plate and glamorize my creations. Although I am handy with my iPhone, my food is not photographed and edited by a professional.
Whatever picture I had in my head for this year, the reality will not match. However, I’m not lamenting it. In my experience, what I make may not resemble the picture, but it almost always turns out to be delicious. And that is the hope I carry with me now. For a future that may not be what I expected, but in which I can find delight nonetheless.