Here we are, just a week out from Election Day. Finally? I am steeling myself for disaster (like carrying an umbrella when you really don’t think it’s going to rain, right?) but also just want it to get here so at least we know. Besides the future of our country, I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming winter and how we can make the best of it, especially with kids. So far, I’m banking on plenty of baking projects and investing in extra warm clothes for chilly park excursions. Maybe we take up snowshoeing in Prospect Park?
I’ll keep noodling on that but in the meantime, here are some suggestions for ways to stay energized, safe, and sane in the coming weeks.
Make a plan to vote: I’ve been seeing “I voted early” stickers in the neighborhood and I’m starting to get excited to actually cast my ballot. Rob and I are keeping tabs on the early voting lines but both of us have Election Day off (something I wish more companies would do) so we’re planning to vote in person and then celebrate with coffee or a drink. Find everything you need to vote at I Will Vote and make sure your friends and family are ready too.
Push to the finish line: We’re soooo close! Here are some ideas for how to keep momentum going through till November 3rd.
- Many early polling locations are already reporting record wait times. Consider donating to Pizza to the Polls, a non-partisan organization that brings food (via food trucks and on-demand deliveries from local restaurants) to polling locations with long lines.
- Help ensure a free and fair election by signing up to be an election protection volunteer with Protect the Vote. Depending on where you live, there are in-person and remote opportunities, and the site is also a great resource for what to do if you do witness something.
- In this final sprint, some of the most impactful work is being done by innovative organizations like BlockPower, which uses neighborhood “voting ambassadors” to increase turnout among Black citizens (thank you for the tip, Elana!).
Remember to check in: I feel a lot of feelings in the best of times so the last 8 (?) months have been a real rollercoaster. I really identified with the latest episode of A Thing or Two with Claire and Erica, where Erica and Claire check in on each other and have some excellent recs for how to get through winter (soup and exercise, yep and yep). It’s a great reminder to carve out time for friends and family to just, you know, see how everyone’s doing.
Halloween, Covid-style: This is the first year where Lilly is excited about Halloween, probably because it combines two of her favorite things: costumes and candy. She’s going to be Poppy from “Trolls,“ which was as easy as buying a blue dress from Primary and ordering a flower crown on Etsy. Plus pink hair chalk, which I’m picking up from our local kid’s store. As far as celebrating, we’re going to skip trick-or-treating and will either do a candy scavenger hunt in our backyard with one or two other families or put a bowl of candy out and sit on our stoop and spectate. This NY Times story is a good cheatsheet to staying safe while still having fun; in short, carry sanitizer, wash your hands, and avoid parades and indoor parties. And when in doubt, always go for the Kit Kats.
Nut-free treats for school parties and stress eating: I love baking with Lilly, as long as it’s something along the dump-and-mix lines. We’re planning to make Nigella Lawson’s Monster Cookies for her school Halloween party and we’ll do a batch with dark choc M&M’s for her class (nut-free) and then one with Reese’s Pieces for us (pro-nut). If you’re looking for a nut-free treat that’s even easier, try Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats and just scatter some candy corn on top. Also in the nut-free world, I have been loving Kween Granola Butter, which I learned about from Miranda Hammer — great on rice cakes, stirred into oatmeal, or with apple slices (for kids and adults :).
Non-nursing bras, rejoice: I’m slowly cleaning out my closet and was delighted to throw away a dozen stretched out nursing bras. I bought a super comfy bralette from Nude Barre, a genius Black-owned business that offers tights and underwear in a wide spectrum of skin tones (I’m “Irish cream,” funnily). I also love this classic style from Eberjey — they’re pricey but I got one five years ago and it’s still holding strong.
Rocket ships and representation: This weekend, we watched “Over the Moon,” a new Netflix animated film about a Chinese girl named Fei Fei who builds a rocket ship to get to the moon. It has an amazing cast of Asian actors, including Philippa Soo and Sandra Oh, and gorgeous visuals. The story went pretty far over Lilly’s head but she loved the scenes with food (again, my child) and the fantastical moon creatures. In addition to being a welcome break from “Trolls,” it was a nice way to remind Lilly she’s a quarter Chinese.
Diversifying our cookbook shelf: In addition to being more deliberate about spending with Black-and minority-owned businesses, I’m also adding new cookbooks and cuisines into our repertoire. My friend Raisa just sent me Jubilee, by culinary journalist and community activist Toni Tipton-Martin. It’s a rigorously researched, fascinating survey of African-American cuisine that debunks the idea that African-American food is only soul food. It’s the kind of book you could happily read cover to cover but you should definitely also cook from it; we started with the simple but gloriously satisfying Rice and Peas with Coconut, and are on to West African Groundnut Stew next. I also just bought Vegetable Kingdom, chef and activist Bryant Terry’s celebration of plant-based cooking. It’s just the thing I need to break up the grain-bowl monotony. First on my list: this mushroom toast, followed by his Green Rice.
Speaking of books: Support your local bookstore! As The Strand and the NYT have reminded us, they need our help. We love Books are Magic for so, so many reasons, not the least of which is their wonderful kid area, with a tiny reading nook that Lilly beelines to every time we visit. If there’s ever been a time to support small businesses, this is it. I stopped by this weekend to pick up Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass after seeing it on a bunch of Indigenous Peoples’ Day recommended reading lists, and also left with Oliver Jeffers’ latest, What We’ll Build (warning: will def make you cry). I also recently bought my dear friend Julia Bainbridge‘s Good Drinks, which is filled with inspiring non-alcoholic beverages for all times of day.
A lighter Negroni: Truth be told, I always want a Negroni. But for weeknights or on evenings when you want to have a couple cocktails, a Martinez is a similar vibe with less of a boozy punch. We rediscovered them thanks to this Gabrielle Hamilton column and found that they are a perfect transitional weather beverage. (Though, depending on how election night goes, I might be going straight for Boulevardiers).
That’s all for now. See you on the other side, and fingers crossed.