Story Submitted by Shelley Sharp

Cousins in the Kitchen

My cousins and I have cooked our way through the Coronavirus. And it has served to keep us connected even though we are over 1000 miles apart. The nightly food photo texts began spontaneously on St. Patrick’s Day. My family is proud of its Irish heritage so it was no surprise that we began by sharing photos of our traditional boiled dinners. We instinctively made corned beef, boiled potatoes and cabbage, and Irish soda bread.

It was so much fun commenting on the food, the plates, and shared memories of various relatives’ kitchens and cooking. Without any discussion or planning, there were more photos of food the next night. In the nights to come we would share menu ideas, recipes, and photos of floral arrangements and table décor. We celebrated special occasions like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and the birth of a new cousin via our nightly food “blog”. We even shared pix of our creative transformations, a.k.a. leftovers, and the occasional food flop.

There were many nights spent trying to perfect homemade pizza dough. Taco Tuesday was a regular in all our menu rotations. Many photos of guacamole were shared, some of the prep and some of the final dish. I discovered a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that we now all use. No more canned sauce for us!

Like many others in the time of Corona, we have baked bread, biscuits, cakes, cookies, and brownies. We have explored many international cuisines and spices. Mexican street corn has been featured over and over. Fresh vegetables and herbs from local markets and farm stands have been the inspiration for many diners. My cousin found ramps, a springtime delicacy, at a local market in Brooklyn. I cooked with fennel for the time. We all miss sushi.

Our family’s response to the Corona crisis was to gather around the table, eat well, and connect nightly with photos of food and Cousins in the Kitchen. We’re at 70 nights and counting.