Quarantine cocktails: Recipes for spirits to lift the spirit

Photos Courtesy of Nancy Pannikkat
Nancy Pannikkat has been treating the Mountain View/Los Altos online community to news-themed cocktail recipes as the shelter-in-place prolongs and political figures give her more and more material to work with.

Creating community and finding ways to connect with her neighbors were already on Mountain View resident Nancy Pannikkat’s mind before the shelter-in-place orders took effect nearly two months ago. Then, the forced distancing spurred her to action.

Pannikkat took to Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social networking site, and began sharing pandemic-themed cocktail recipes, dubbed “quarantinis.” Since she started, Pannikkat has posted more than two dozen cocktails and received numerous replies from local residents.

When the days all look the same, try something new

Megan Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos’ Farmers Market, reopened for the year as of last week, offers an opportunity to put your children to work. Bring home ears of corn and shelling peas, set out big bowls in the yard, and introduce them to the meditative practice of preparing dinner for themselves.

The world of social eating has been knocked off its path: shifting laws and health regulations, grocery logistics that could feel like a game when they aren’t a nightmare. The Town Crier has been reporting on local efforts to address food insecurity for the growing number of families whose income and food access points have been undercut. For resources and ways to help, follow our continuing coronavirus impact coverage which includes profiles of a range of local organizations mustering food and volunteers.

Tracking the (mostly online) food conversations happening locally and nationally, there are still moments of pleasure amid the anxiety. I can’t offer you solace for the lost company of the larger world, but I do have a pandemic-specific roundup of new eating experiences to consider, at home and in support of the eateries you hope to enjoy again in person one day.

Shelter in 'Haus'

The Haus Citrus Flower aperitif

As a companion to our reporting on neighborhood quarantinis, Town Crier wine columnist Christine Moore sent a bulletin from her shelter-in-place sommelier activities in Mountain View: She’s been making a cocktail she’s calling Shelter in “Haus,” which features a California-made aperitif (learn more at drink.haus). Aperitifs are comparatively low in alcohol and loaded with complex botanical flavors, ready to sip alone or with bubbly water, and great in a cocktail with strong spirits.

Shelter in ‘Haus’

Food on the front lines: Restaurants, hospital workers benefit from temporary partnership

Courtesy of Zareen Khan
Local hospital staff pose in appreciation for a photo with their meals from Zareen's.

 Los Altos and Mountain View restaurants are joining forces with their customers to feed health-care workers on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus.

Chef Chu’s and The Post in Los Altos and Blue Line Pizza in Mountain View are among the local eateries involved in serving the health-care providers that serve the community. Zareen’s and Hobee’s restaurants are collaborating with the nonprofit Frontline Foods to provide meals to doctors and nurses.

Prepare pantry-friendly meals from the refuge of the kitchen

Pantry Cooking
Courtesy of Christine Moore
A comforting Italian-inspired stew draws on interchangeable pantry staples.

Thank you for reading this article – we are connected through the conversation that takes place on the pages, both web and paper, of the Los Altos Town Crier.

Should you choose to make any of the recipes I share here, we’ll be connected through our cooking, too. These dishes are on repeat in my home. Odds are good that your family and mine might sit down to the same meal one evening. That’s a relationship I’m very grateful for as we all test how we can connect in a time of isolation.

Food memories travel from Town Crier column to cookbook

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Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
Los Altos resident Blanche Shaheen recently published her “Feast in the Middle East” cookbook, which features recipes including Samak bi Tahini, above.

My “Feast in the Middle East” journey began 10 years ago when I wanted to re-create one of my favorite dishes from childhood, the dramatic Palestinian dish of Maqlouba. This Middle Eastern specialty is a massive rice “cake” flipped upside down to reveal steaming roasted chicken, fragrant rice, fried cauliflower, caramelized onions and roasted chicken inside.

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