The ARTery team has reached the point of quarantine where we’ve done a lot of watching (we’ve seen all the Tiger Kings) and now we’re all looking for something to do. Beyond the virtual hangouts with family and friends, there’s still an urge to make something — art, crafts, music and lots of food (have you seen the many loaves of bread being made?). So to satisfy this need, we’re turning to DIY (Do It Yourself) projects. In our second pop culture care package, we’re giving you ways to create and find comfort, from livestreamed cooking classes to sewing projects to tie-dyed shirts with natural-made dyes.
I am frequently daunted by the task of cooking a meal. I am slow and methodical — it can take me 20 minutes to chop an onion. And unlike many I see on social media, I don’t get pleasure out of serving a hard-won meal. I mainly think of the dirty dishes I’ll have to do, I tally the hours spent stirring and chopping and sauteing. And after that’s all said and done, I’ll dish up a plate and be done in 10-15 minutes. (I might be a slow cook, but the same can’t be said of my eating.) So when it’s my turn to cook dinner, I am demoralized before I even start. Enter Ayr Moir, Clover Food Lab’s founder and CEO, and my kitchen guru. With many restaurants closed, Moir has invited us (forced) at-home cooks into his kitchen to make a meal along with him and his family each weekday. Livestreamed on YouTube at 4 p.m., Moir offers approachable recipes with ingredients likely to be found in your cupboard. He also has special guest experts call in to give advice, from baking bread with Richard Bourdon (baker and owner of the Berkshire Mountain Bakery) to brewing coffee with George Howell, the godfather of American specialty coffee roasting (and my former boss!). Prior to each episode, the recipe and ingredient list are posted on Clover’s website so you can cook along with Moir. Better yet, you can ask questions in realtime, so if you’re stumped or looking for guidance, Moir is there for you and meals have suddenly become a little less dismaying. (Maybe I'll even come to enjoy it like Cristela!)
-Dianna Bell, Producing Editor
Many years ago I started knitting, and my early endeavors took weeks (if not months) to finish. Turns out when it comes to craft projects, I’m results-oriented, and I wanted to see progress — fast. Sewing fit the bill for me when I wanted to finish a project over a weekend, or even in an afternoon. The project pages of Purl Soho are a beloved source of inspiration. They offer simple patterns done in beautiful colors, so even when I’m not sewing I can spend hours contemplating my next project, like a skirt for one of my daughters, some new napkins, or a baby bonnet for a friend’s new arrival.
-Tania Ralli, Acting Senior Editor
I love doing craft art in my spare time and now that I have more of it, I've found myself coming up with so many ways to keep my hands busy. Schmoxd is one of my favorite DIY YouTubers. His videos are always creative and unique and the things he creates are one of a kind! This tie-dye video is a good one to start off with, especially if you need an activity to do with kids. And if you don't have dyes to use at home, you can try making your own from household items like pennies, turmeric, coffee and blueberries. You can dye practically anything and it's a good way to revamp clothes or items that have stubborn stains or marks.
-Arielle Gray, Arts Engagement Producer
Getting (Epi)Curious in the Kitchen
If you’re anything like me, you like to eat. If you’re anything like me, you also had very little cooking skills before locking yourself inside of your house for the past month. A lot of recipes can be overwhelming for new chefs, but Epicurious has made it easy for the new home chef in me. Think of it as the little sister counterpart to Bon Appétit, which prides itself on sharing the tips from professional chefs working in a professional kitchen. Epicurious focuses on food you can make at home with ingredients already in your pantry or easy to access. Have some leftover buttermilk you need to get rid of like I did a few days ago? Here’s a list of a couple dozen recipes you can whip up before it goes bad. I went with the buttermilk biscuits with honey butter. (Yes, I burned them. Mind your business.)
-Christian Burno, Arts Reporting Fellow
Connection Through Cooking
When I was a little kid, cooking was not my cup of tea. My mother was eager to turn me into the girliest of girls and I was a tomboy feminist at age 11. I pushed away cooking the same way I pushed away dresses. I didn’t want to do something seemingly required of me simply as a result of my gender. What I didn’t realize was every single tip and piece of advice she gave me in the kitchen must’ve sunk in somehow. Our family doesn’t really write down recipes. We don’t really measure amounts, we just cook. And during this time of plague, I hear my mother’s voice as I tend to my meals. Add more pepper. Lower that temperature a bit. Fluff up the rice with a fork. I may be alone in my home, but the women in my family — their strength, wisdom, and cooking skills — are here with me too. I’ve made salmon with a Tuscan white wine sauce, kielbasa with veggies and ginger, Picadillo, black beans, sofrito and rice. I’ve spent hours chopping, peeling, and prepping a dinner for one. It’s comforting and makes my home smell delicious. I’m a convert to cooking. I’ve found nourishment and healing.
-Cristela Guerra, Arts & Culture Reporter
Crafting Quarantine Cookbooks
This kind of a project could be executed in all sorts of super fun ways. The one I'm contributing to was dreamed up by three friends — Jess Bidgood, Sarah Belfort and Mia Radic — who met in Boston but now live in London, NYC and D.C. (I know the one there). They're calling it the “Quarantine Cooking Zine" and have asked dozens of food-loving folks from each of their circles to contribute recipes for whatever entrees and snacks they've been making as they wait out the coronavirus. To gather the submissions the friend-editors created an online form asking for recipe name, ingredient list, cooking steps and a short explanation for why this dish appeals in uncertain times. Oh, and rather than ask for photos they're requesting simple line drawings to go with the recipes. Cute! A friend with graphics chops will design the cover and it will be printed through Newspaper Club, a Scottish company that makes custom projects on newsprint. When the zines are finished, everyone who took part will receive a copy in the mail.
This example is a bit involved, but a quarantine cookbook for your friends and family can be way more DIY. Submissions and artwork could be handwritten, photocopied and snail-mailed; old cooking magazines could be cut up and used to decorate the pages in old notebooks and scrapbooks; or people could email recipes to each other and print them at home to create unique versions of books to share when they can finally be together again! Coming up with names together would be a blast too.
-Andrea Shea, Senior Arts Reporter
We want to know how you’re finding comfort during these chaotic times. What are you cooking and crafting? Send your suggestions to email@example.com!