The Weekly Margs by

C is for Crafty

Hi there!

Welcome back. This was one of those weeks where I looked back and acknowledged the fact that yes, COVID-19 has made big changes in my life.

One big theme of this pandemic has been that it’s highlighting problems that already existed. Back in mid-March, I came across this article in Slate, highlighting how the pandemic has provided motivation for dramatically changing norms, like pausing evictions, preventing cutting off utilities to residents and so on. It didn’t cover police violence or some of the other key points of the current Black Lives Matter protests, but a lot of the observations of the arbitrary violence of capitalism do hold up.

So what will happen when the crisis passes? Yes, it’s worth asking yourself now, in the early days of this pandemic, how you might change your behavior, what temporary adjustments in your lifestyle you might adopt permanently in the after times—whether that’s working from home, or cutting back on airplane travel. But it’s also worth asking if we are willing to allow governments and corporations to return to business as usual. When everything’s back to normal, will we accept cities cutting off their poorest residents’ water, or evicting the sick, or throwing someone in jail because they can’t afford to pay a fine?

from “America is a Sham” (March 2020)

Society as we know it today is this strange, surprisingly intertwined and delicate balance that causes a shocking amount of harm. Pessimistically, I think the chances that it ends any time soon are still small, but definitely increasing.

Some of my college friends and I have a long-standing half-joking reference to planning for a post-industrial return to an agrarian society, and creating a more independent compound or commune together. So if society does end, at least we’d have each other and we could find a way to survive. Like I said, I don’t think society will end soon, but I do like the idea of becoming more self-sufficient and doing more things for myself.

This all brings us to this week’s theme: crafts. I know the basics of how to cook. In the before times, I was usually short on time so I didn’t cook often, and when I did, nothing particulary elaborate. In “these unprecedented times” I have plenty of time and energy to spend on cooking, and luckily my Internet connection still works so I can look up recipes for anything I want to.

All the pictures this week are shot in basically the same spot, my kitchen table, which has become kind of a new focal point in my life (that, and my desk). Let’s get in to them!

May 2020. Home (San Francisco, CA)

This picture isn’t an example of cooking per se, but it is about being more independent, kind of. I bought an avocado to make avocado toast at home, and decided that now was as good a time as any to see if I could get it to sprout. I took this when I first planted it. It’s taken nearly a month, but the pit has cracked and there is a tiny root peeking out of the pit now. I’m excited to see where this ends up. I also need to name this plant… Ava the avocado tree? We’ll check back in seven years and see if she bears fruit.

June 2020. Home (San Francisco, CA)

This was from my second attempt at pickling red onions. This time, I added sliced jalapeños, and it was a huge improvement. The onions got darker and had a much better flavor, and bonus: I had pickled jalapeños to eat too. This has gone great and I’m definitely going to keep repeating this recipe.

June 2020. Home (San Francisco)

As I started to pickle more and more things, I figured what about…pickles? I tried to stick to a relatively simple recipe, but trickiest part of this was finding whole yellow mustard seeds, I ended up having to search like three stores. In the end, the pickles were good but not particularly amazing. I think I’ll stick to store-bought pickles until the supply chain gets wrecked, in which case I will carefully ration my mustard seeds and make as many pickles as possible.

July 2020. Home (San Francisco, CA)

This was my first ever attempt at making pasta from scratch. I went for tagliatelle, since the internet told me it would be easy and all I needed to do was roll the dough up and slice it. As you can see from the picture, it went okay. Unrolling the dough after cutting it didn’t go so well. I’ll give this recipe another shot or two to see if I can get better at it, but similarly to the pickles, I think I’ll be happier with store-bought pasta in the future.

That’s it for now. I’ve made a few more things, like cookies, lox, sourdough bread, but no need to rehash that all here.

I know that I’ll look back at this period of time and remember how may different things I was able to try, and so that in the slight chance society falls apart, I’ll have some basic crafts to contribute back to our new society.