The smoking experiments with the Weber kettle grill continue. We’ve been using this pellet tube smoker and have discovered the only way to keep it smoking consistently is to lay it directly on the charcoal rather than on top. These were babyback ribs. Steve Raichlen recommends 2 to 3 hours. We went 2.5 hours but should’ve left it the full three. Close to perfection — still delicious but more to tinker with for next time!

When I first moved to town, there was this delicious sandwich shop named B’wiched that made their own ranch dressing from scratch. B’wiched always seemed like a bustling spot, so it was a surprise when it closed in late 2011, alas. I’ve missed their ranch dressing for the past nine years, but it never occurred to me make my own…until now. In retrospect, I’m kind of glad I didn’t know how easy it was, because the homemade version is seriously addictive. I’ve become one of those people who will put ranch dressing on everything, apparently, as it has now topped yesterday’s lunch, dinner, and today’s breakfast: 1 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream, a bunch of chives, parsley, a clove of garlic. That’s it! And you dump it in the food processor, blend it up, and add a little milk to thin it out if you prefer a more pourable consistency. So now I’ve got a batch ready to go for the next time we do smoked chicken wings. Our first attempt, above, was declared “just like Arcadia’s” by Min, another regular spot of ours that has since closed down. The mac and cheese was a super simple Melissa Clark recipe that lived up to its billing as “the easiest, crunchiest baked mac and cheese.”

Food has been a comfort and respite during what has been a rough week, as NB, JB, myself and so many others in higher ed have been seeking to support our students who are, rightfully, reeling from the tragic, horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Their deaths, like Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Amadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and so many other black men and women who have been murdered by the police and white supremacist vigilantes, lays bare the pervasive structural racism baked into our nation’s government, laws, and institutions. While the purpose of the Covid Food Diaries is to provide some respite and joy through the tangible things we experience — making a meal, mixing a cocktail, trying a new recipe, it felt wrong not to acknowledge the world beyond these photographs and to simply say:

Black Lives Matter.

Today I am participating in #ShutDownAcademia/ShutDownSTEM by reading, writing and planning concrete steps that I can take to support Black Lives Matter within my academic institution and my academic discipline.