By Jo Longley
Remember back in the beginning of quarantine when everyone was baking bread together, and it felt like a sort of companionship? We couldn’t be together but we felt together, and we kneaded a shit-ton of dough.
Cassandra Baim is bringing that back. She is publishing a short cooking zine of quarantine recipes, and donating all proceeds to the Crown Heights Mutual Aid fund for which she volunteers. I asked her about the project and she said:
My approach to food has gone from eating as merely a means of fueling up to cooking as therapy. That realization has inspired me to collect other meditations on food during a pandemic. This zine features recipes, poetry, essays, and visual art all about how we’re feeding our bodies during these uNpReCeDeNtEd TiMeS. Every penny from this zine will go to Crown Heights Mutual Aid, an org in central Brooklyn aiming to deliver groceries and cash assistance to our neighbors in need.
If you’re interested in donating (or volunteering if you live in Brooklyn) check them out. If you want your hands on that zine you can pre-order here, or if you want to follow Cassandra and her work you can do so through her Instagram (@moreadventurous).
And as my (really my partner’s) addition to this effort:
Wine Braised Pot Roast
This recipe makes 2-3 servings
- 2-3 lbs beef chuck roast
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1/2 lb mushrooms
- 1 lb red or Yukon potatoes
- 1/2 bottle Chardonnay (or other dry to semi-dry wine)
- 3 garlic cloves
- bay leaf
- oil (preferably bacon fat)
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F/205°C.
- Liberally salt and pepper roast on all sides.
- Heat oven safe pan on stovetop (preferably a cast iron skillet or dutch oven—do not use a non-stick pan) until smoking hot. Add oil and carefully sear roast on all sides.
- Set roast aside and remove pan from heat before adding Chardonnay to pan to deglaze. Use spoon or spatula to lift all of the caramelized bits from the pan.
- Add two tsp thyme (or more—your preference), bay leaf, smashed garlic, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper to pan with wine.
- Trim and cut carrots in half (peeling is optional, though you lose a lot of nutrients if you do) and then chop both carrots and celery into two inch lengths. Peel onions, cut in half, trim ends, and then make 1/2 in slices, cutting from root to top. Smash garlic. Cut mushrooms into quarters.
- Return roast to pan and arrange carrots, onion, celery, and mushrooms around it. Add enough water to the pan to bring the liquid level up to just over halfway up roast. Cover pan with lid (alternatively be prepared to add more water while it roasts) and place in oven.
- Roast for 3 hours, checking water level every hour or so if not using a lid.
- Cut potatoes in halves or quarters depending on size. Remove roast from oven and carefully flip meat over. Arrange potatoes around roast.
- Reduce oven heat to 350°F/175°C and return pan to oven for 1hour longer or until potatoes and roast are fork tender.
My partner made this for dinner a couple of weeks back while we in the south were covered in snow—and it was incredible. Definitely worth the hours of cook time.
I also think it’s important to recognize that having access to an oven that was working, or clean water to fill the roast pan with, made me luckier than a whole lot of people dealing with the storm, or just dealing with food insecurity in general.
It’s a difficult thing, to recognize that you want and deserve comfort, while being keenly aware that so many people don’t have the basic tools to make that possible for themselves. I think the key is gratitude and helping however you can.
I urge you to support Cassandra’s cookzine, and in turn support the Crown Heights Mutual Aid. If you want to make an even larger impact, research mutual aids in your area and give your time as well.