First of all, let me say that I am grateful to Betty Crocker, Chef John and all the other online recipe websites that have been flooding my inbox throughout this COVID-19 pandemic with recipes designed for people who are sequestered at home with very little cooking experience and who likely are getting by on less income.

It’s been a stressful time, people. Made even more stressful by the fact McDonald’s doesn’t deliver in most small towns around here. And every little bit of encouragement helps, even if it’s only to figure out 125 ways to use the canned beans in your pantry.

But really, do people need a recipe to heat up chili or bake tater tots? I hate to sound like a snob, but people who have not cooked a meal since they were in college and learned how to pour hot water into a Cup O’Noodles maybe should think about expanding their horizons.

An uptick in the number of coronavirus infections after the bars and restaurants opened up was probably no surprise. It wasn’t that people were heedless of their health or others’ — it was simply that they were sick and tired of eating Hamburger Helper for three meals a day for three months. That old adage that other people’s food always tastes better than your own was never so true as it is now. Even if all the bar has to offer are pickled eggs and chicken gizzards, under these circumstances it tastes like a gourmet dinner at a five-star restaurant.

I have been doing my best to use up the stuff I have in the freezer in order to cut down on grocery shopping. That was an eye-opener. I didn’t realize I have been stocking up on quart bags of rhubarb for three years. If somebody could find a way to use rhubarb as an antiviral medicine, I would be a millionaire.

I remember a trend a couple of years ago urging people to eat only locally produced foods. That works great in theory if you live in the midst of the Garden of Eden where fruits and vegetables are abundant, and you don’t mind living on venison and muskrat.

But our diets here in north central Idaho would be pretty boring if all we had to eat was what we raised. I even know farmers who would not consume the lentils they grow unless they were forced at gunpoint. If we had never tasted mangoes or avocados perhaps we wouldn’t miss them, but the cat is already out of the bag and most of us would not want to go back to subsisting on Swiss chard and apples.

There’s a lot of good things to eat out there. This is a great time of year to indulge your palate. And just in case you’ve got coronavirus-eating-fatigue and can’t think of a single thing to do with all this fresh produce, there’s always Betty Crocker and Chef John to the rescue.

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.

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