Good morning. How are you? You getting enough sleep, or sleeping all the time? You eating enough, not enough, too much? How’s your stress level? You feeling optimistic? Or the opposite? I watched the sun rise the other morning and asked myself those questions. I found I could not answer them. And I can’t be alone in that. We’re caught in the continuum between what was and what will be, and it’s dizzying. We’re all in, all the time.
What I know we can do: shrug and head into the kitchen. It’s different in there, or it can be. We can enter unsure of ourselves and the state of the world, assemble an array of ingredients and then put them together into something that brings pleasure both in the making and the consumption, and that’s not nothing. That’s healthy.
That’s nachos, for me. I love Priya Krishna’s version, Indian-ish nachos (above) that she makes with her mother, Ritu, with cilantro chutney, tamarind drizzle and chhonk, a sauce of melted ghee, cumin seeds and red chile. I love my own game-day nachos as well, and have come around strongly to Mark Bittman’s Greek-style version, too. Loaded nachos? Short-rib chili nachos? On a Monday night in the midst of a pandemic, with the West on fire and an important election looming, nachos are a kind of tranquilizer, good for the soul.
You could — you should — make bircher muesli for breakfast one of these days and, later on, a sheet-pan chicken dinner with potatoes, scallions and capers. I think these savory corn fritters are fantastic, a perfect side dish to accompany spicy grilled shrimp.
I’d like to make this salmon with potatoes and horseradish-tarragon sauce this week and hope that you’ll join me, before getting started with our fall cooking bucket list. But if not, if it’s all too much for you right now, I’d get it. Start slow: a vat of beans; a bowl of perfect rice.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with mint or duck breasts, mirin or tagliatelle, but Kara Swisher has a cool new podcast coming to The Times, “Sway,” about power and influence. Give the trailer a listen, and you’ll be sure to sign up.
Also in The Times, I’d like to draw your attention to this remarkable essay in our “At War” section by Elana Duffy, with beautiful, searing photographs by Philip Montgomery. It’s about Duffy’s experience after getting hit in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, where she was serving as an intelligence investigator and collector.