Hey everyone! I’m writing to you from a small town in southern Illinois, just twenty minutes outside of St. Louis. Like many of you, when the governor issued the shelter in place order, I moved home with my parents to be with family during quarantine. I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me “moving out” consisted of packing bags as quickly as I could, shoving in clean comfortable clothes and whatever I thought I couldn’t live without for a week or two. I cleaned out my fridge, put my Cavalier spaniel Hattie in the car, and took off. It’s been four weeks now and our house is bustling with my parents, sister, brother, myself, Hattie, and two cats.
One of my favorite things to do, especially with my mom and sister, is to bake and cook. However, not leaving the house + constant baked goods and carbo-loaded recipes + a small dose of stress/bored eating = a dangerous combination. To offset the calories we’ve been eating, we’ve been taking advantage of free yoga and Pilates on YouTube. My favorite Pilates channel on YouTube is Blogilates with Cassey Ho. She does a great job of walking you through each exercise at the beginning of the video and explaining which muscle groups you’ll be working. She has a huge library of past workouts available, and there is something for toning just about any part of your body! All I use when following along to her videos is my yoga mat, but even that is optional. The workouts are very home/apartment friendly and Cassey has even been posting workout calendars for the COVID-19 quarantine, so you can follow along with her recommended workouts, or create your own routine. Hattie is an overall great workout buddy and huge help…
Maybe some of you are experiencing the odd time warp we seem to be in where each day feels like a week and yet each day slides into the next and it’s easy to lose track. One of the best methods I’ve found to fight this is to spend some time in the sun or to break up the day by going outside. We’re lucky to be in a rural area, so we are still able to go for walks and enjoy our yard! In fact, the only one who might not be enjoying our walks is poor Hattie. She’s only two, but she is the biggest couch potato you can imagine! While I think she felt spoiled at first with everyone home, now she just wishes we would leave her alone to take her naps. I have also been going out to the trampoline to get some cardio in since I can’t go to the gym. Apparently, this is a highly entertaining part of the morning for Hattie and the cats. The cats typically spend the day bullying poor Hattie, but they call an armistice for the hour or so that I’m on the trampoline every day to sit and watch their human.
After burning some calories, my mom, sister, and I love to head to the kitchen! For one of my quarantine projects I am transcribing and posting all of my grandma’s old handwritten recipes onto a blog for my aunts and cousins. We’re making as many of the recipes as we can so that I can add in little notes and pictures of the finished products. One recipe that will always hold a special place in my heart (especially around Easter) is my Grandma Ruth’s pineapple upsidedown cake. It’s sweet as can be and just makes you happy. It’s the kind of dessert where you can have just a little square and have to cut yourself a generous rectangle. My grandma makes her cake batter from scratch, but here’s a quick and simplified version using yellow cake mix. Now Grandma Ruth had a couple tricks to truly knock this recipe out of the park that you can still use with the easy cake mix version. First, toast some pecans in a small pan. You add these to the top of the cake at the same time as the cherries and pineapple. The crunch and texture that these add just takes the cake to another level. Also, if you don’t mind sacrificing some of the neat presentation, use crushed pineapple instead of the rounds. This makes the cake even more moist and ensures you get a bit of pineapple with every bite. If you have enough leftover, you should also consider using a full cup of pineapple juice rather than any water with the cake mix. Finally, use a little extra brown sugar than this recipe calls for. Don’t pat the sugar down, rather make sure it’s well blended with the butter, but leave the top “crumbly.” I hope some of you get the chance to try this and it spreads a little joy! Ours didn’t last long past Easter dinner.
My family and I have really enjoyed exploring and preserving my grandma’s recipes, especially those that we know were passed down through generations. If you’ve ever been curious about exploring your own family’s history, consider checking out this guide from UIUC’s Main Library about how to research your genealogy. The guide includes an explanation of free resources available online as well as recommendations from UIUC’s own collections. This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy and get involved in.
That’s all for now! I’m going to get back to my 1000 piece puzzle and maybe sneak one of the last slices of pineapple upsidedown cake. Hattie says she can’t wait until she can get back to Champaign and all our friends–apparently, we’re a little too boring for her!
Written by: Jayde
Edited by: Lauren