Cancellations and closures are the new normal. You can’t go out to eat or drink. You can’t go to the ball game or hear a favorite musician play live. You can’t bowl, play soccer, go to the museum or visit the library. And on and on and on. You don’t need me to tell you what you cannot do.

Happily, there is at least one thing you can do. And it’s not a pathetic substitute for real, actual fun. It is real, actual fun. And while you’re doing it, the house will smell nice. And when you’re finished, you will get a meal out of it, or maybe a cake. That’s right —  you can cook.

Today, we bring you two Maine recipes that we hope will get you excited, joyful, about the unexpected gift of time in your kitchen. The first is from the legendary Marjorie Standish, who wrote cooking columns for this newspaper for almost 30 years, beginning in 1948. The second comes from York-based gourmet food producer Stonewall Kitchen.

A word about the Standish recipe, before I head into my own kitchen to make dinner. It calls for yellow turnips. Maybe Standish meant rutabagas, as they often go by that name. Either would work here. Before you dismiss these unappreciated vegetables out of hand, consider this: Despite all the shortages at the market, I’m betting you will have no trouble getting hold of a rutabaga. Also, like most root vegetables, it has a long shelf life, which may prove handy in this crisis. Best, it tastes sweet and earthy and is a lovely golden color.

That’s my ordinary-times sales pitch for the rutabaga but these aren’t ordinary times. So here’s something else: For the foreseeable future, most new adventures and new experiences are on hold. But coronavirus or no, you can still have any number of new adventures — of both the tasting and the cooking sort — in your own kitchen.

Fluffy Yellow Turnip


Adapted from “Cooking Down East: Favorite Maine Recipes” from Marjorie Standish. I doubled the butter, and added more onion than the original recipe called for. I also nixed the white sugar and suggest you use honey or maple syrup instead.

1 large rutabaga (or several yellow turnips)
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
2 eggs, whites and yolks separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a small to medium baking dish.

Peel the rutabaga. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook in boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash. You should have about 3 cups.

Melt the butter in a small saute pan and cook the onion until it’s a delicate brown. While it is cooking, beat the egg yolks lightly and whip the egg whites until stiff.

Add the yolks to the mashed turnips. Season with the sweetener, salt and pepper. Add the onions to the vegetable mixture, then told in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn the mixture into a greased baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour. Serve warm.


Portuguese Roasted Clams with Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Onions

Recipe from “Stonewall Kitchen Harvest: Celebrating the Bounty of the Seasons” by Jim Stott, Jonathan King, and Kathy Gunst. The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes. It’s not tomato season. Also, have you been hoarding? I haven’t seen canned tomatoes at the market for at least a week; perhaps you’ve got them all. A 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes should work fine here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo, linguica or fairly spicy Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Dash of cayenne or hot pepper sauce
24 littleneck clams, 16 cherrystone clams, or 2 pounds debearded mussels
2 cups chopped tomatoes (or one 14-ounce can)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley or basil
1 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large, oven-proof skillet or shallow casserole, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage slices and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. (Reduce the heat to low if the sausage begins to burn.) Add the cayenne or hot pepper sauce and stir well.

Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour off any excess oil from the bottom of the pan. Arrange the clams on top of the sausage and onions. Scatter the tomato, garlic, and basil on top of the clams and add the wine. Roast, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, stir well, and roast another 5 to 15 minutes, or until the clams just open. (Don’t wait until the clam shells are wide open. As soon as they open enough for you to see the clams, it’s time to remove them from the oven or the clams will overcook and become tough.) Serve immediately.

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