In these moments


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If you’d told me last year that there would be a day when I would go to the grocery store just once a week with a list and wonder what I might find on the shelf; or that I would come home giddy over finding a carton of eggs, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of bread, I might have questioned that.

Aren’t these things always supposed to be available? Didn’t rationing end with WWII? Like most of my generation, I’ve never gone to a grocery store prior to this pandemic wondering what might be available on the shelves.

Ohio sunset

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An abundance of food is not something that I will likely ever take for granted. (I’ve talked about this many times here, here, here, here, and here as part of the reason why I choose to support Feeding America.)

Growing up, there were times when I watched my mom create meals out of very little. Charity food boxes were an exciting thing when they arrived, as there might be cool cereals, chips, or day-old donuts tucked inside.

In these moments of uncertainty, I’m actively looking for ways to be grateful for the little things that are happening everywhere around us. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for the human nature that is shining through in beautiful ways as well.

The acts of kindness and moments of happiness that I’ve seen shared online over the past month have brought me so much joy. If you have a story, please share it!

Right now, I’m grateful for the ability to sit on the porch, go for a walk, and most of all to enjoy the sunshine on these pretty spring days. I’ve made a habit of porch sitting in the morning and often the evenings too ever since we moved to Ohio and I’m even more thankful for that peace-filled habit now.

Ohio sunrise

As a child in the middle of eight children, I missed the tightest of years for our family. My mom tells the following story of a particularly frugal season of life:

“I went to the store with a very small amount of money (I don’t remember how much), hoping to buy some meat. Back then ground beef was 99 cents a pound. Liver was 29 cents for a container the size of a small margarine tub. There were times I could not even walk past the meat counter because of the temptation to steal some.

Onions were 5 cents a pound. So, I bought the liver and two pounds of onions. We had one great meal and then fried onions until your father got paid a few days later. I always had beans and rice on hand so the onions provided an elegant garnish.”

Ohio path

I remember pinto beans and white rice on repeat throughout much of my childhood. My mom also made “Arroz con Pollo” (always said in Spanish to make it fancier!) which was always far more rice than chicken, but definitely an improvement over the constant beans on rotation.

One of my sister in laws recalls meeting the family over dinner and as my mom set a platter of chicken drumsticks on the table, apparently some of the younger kids were so excited they shouted “meat!”

The story makes me laugh now, as I recall there being meat for many of our meals, but she said that she immediately looked for the smallest piece on that platter to make sure there was plenty for the kids.

Ohio corn field

Yet, here I stand in 2020 able to buy what we need, but it isn’t there. For the past couple of weeks, you simply don’t know what you might find on the shelves at the grocery store. Will there be eggs in stock? or bread? or milk?

It isn’t good “business” right now to talk online about the Coronavirus or Covid-19 if you’re a food website.

The experts tell us that Google and advertisers will eventually search for the terms trending now as we deal with this pandemic and “reverse keyword target” them, meaning there is a list of keywords that they won’t want their advertisements to show next to.

The idea behind that is that if you post content with corona-related keywords in the posts, it is very likely that those posts will not earn nearly as well as your other content that does not include those keywords.

You know what? I just don’t care about that right now. This is a huge part of our life and our history and I don’t want to just gloss over it all.

Ohio early sunrise

There is so much unknown and I want to be present and listen and look for the joy in the little things around us. I want to help you where I am able.

Do you have random pantry ingredients that you’re trying to use? Shoot me a note, leave a comment on a recipe, or message me on Instagram.

Wondering if you can swap some chicken from the freezer for beef in a recipe? Odds are good that we can figure out a way to make it work with what you have on hand.

Afternoon walk

How are you doing, friends? How are you feeling? Do you want to talk about it? Please leave a comment.

Want to share something wonderful and great that is making you smile right now? PLEASE do that. Is it as simple as the cup of coffee that is breathing life into your day? Tell me about it.

We’re all in this together.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Jan says

    I appreciated your comments today. Thank you for the excellent recipes you give us. I made the layered cabbage rolls this week and it was very good. We will get through this troubling time and perhaps it will make us all appreciate the great country we live in and the caring people in our country.

    • Mary Younkin says

      I am so glad that you’re both enjoying the recipes and looking ahead to the future, Jan. I think we will all come through this with a fresh appreciation for our many blessings.

  2. Brenda says

    Thank you for your email today. Enjoyed reading your story of your family.
    Like you, I have stories of leaner times growing up in a family of 13 children. We were fortunate to live on a farm so there were chickens for chicken stew, etc. There were lots of soups made from the bones and the beef ones too. There may not have been a lot of meat or vegetables in the soup, but we had something to fill our bellies. We ate what was set in front of us. We did not have charity boxes to us through. We were always happy when it was payday for my Dad because that brought us some different staples (including 50 pounds of flour for making bread) that would last for another two weeks. My Mum made bread and it was always delicious. One dish that was always delicious was her homemade baked beans, made from white navy beans. The aroma from whatever she cooked always filled our kitchen with wonderful smells. ( my Mum cooked on a Wood stove until she was 85 years old. The day the stove was replaced with an electric stove she stopped cooking. That was a sad day for all us grown-up children to see our mother not want to cook anymore. You see she had Dementia and she almost caught the whole house on fire, because she thought that she was lighting the stove but actually she was lighting the paper and wood she had put in the trash can and not in the stove. The flames and smoke alerted her and she called for my Dad saying there is a fire. We got homecare in to help her prepare and cook meals so that she had a sense of worth, but the didn’t last long as the disease took over and our Mum was no longer the person we used to know. We lost her when she was 86 years old, that was 10 years ago. Miss her very much)
    But what we have are the memories of all her wonderful meals and baked goods she made for the family. What is even greater we have her recipes. We want to make a cookbook of her recipes so that we have them all in one place.
    On another note, I wish you well. Take care and be safe.
    Love from British Columbia, Canada

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Brenda, this is a lovely tribute to your Mum! Thanks for taking the time to share these memories with me. I pray that you’ll be safe and healthy as well.

  3. Diane says

    Hi Mary. We’re all in this fight together. I have been grocery shopping at three stores for three weeks and still no paper products. Some are out of milk, eggs, and butter. I’m in my late seventies and never would have thought I would see anything like this in my lifetime. At Walmart this week one person had a cart full of milk in the gallon size. That’s just crazy. I know God works in mysterious ways and we will prevail. I’m praying for you and your family to stay well. Have a great day.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Diane, I’m praying now that you’ll be able to get the supplies and the groceries you need. I’m also praying that others will realize that this is not the time to buy more than you need right now, as there are so many looking for the same items. I’m also hoping that more stores will impose the purchasing limits that we are seeing here now. Most of the in-demand items are limited to just one or two per customer and it has helped a great deal with making sure more items remain available in our little village store.

  4. Rick says

    I live in a small town in northern Minnesota and work part-time at a local convenience store (semi-retired) and have seen, mostly, the best in people. We did have people from the Twin Cities invade our area and buy up a lot of groceries and other supplies. Hopefully, they’ve all gone home.
    Last Friday, a woman purchased a four pack of toilet paper (we have a good stock and are only putting out a few packages at a time). She told me it was for her daughter, who lives about 70 miles away, works from home, has Crohn’s disease, and cannot find any toilet paper locally. She was going to drive south and meet her daughter about half way with the toilet paper.
    Our local school district has started delivering food to households with school age children. Breakfast and lunch. They are using school buses, and paraprofessionals to deliver the food, which provides employment for those individuals.
    I’m the president of the board of our local food shelf, and we are providing food to those in need, using a drive up method. Please support your local food shelf, money is preferred, as we can purchase much more food for your $20 than you can at the grocery store.
    This current crisis shows who are the important people. Healthcare workers and support staff, truckers, those who stock shelves, cashiers, distribution center workers, utility workers, and so many others. I leave it to you to decide on who is not important to keeping people fed and having some measure of comfort.

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’ve heard of school districts all over the country delivering meals this way and I am so grateful for the people who are working hard to make sure the needs are met. We all definitely know who the heroes are right now. Thank you for everything you are doing to help, Rick.

  5. Stephanie Wettengel says

    This post is what is making me smile! Thank you for being real in this moment. I look to your email every week for the next “family hit” that I can put on the table. I’ve been looking for recipes that feature making use of what I have in the refrigerator or what I can find on the shelf. How about a recipe twist for meatloaf?

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’m so glad, Stephanie! I think I’ll share a new meatloaf recipe next week. There’s one in my first cookbook that we love so very much!

  6. Jeannine says

    I must be clise to your mom’s age, I remember liver like thst. My kids called it “steak” LOL. Because it wasn’t hamburger ( ground mest) or chicken. Long time ago but it makes you resourceful! Be well!

  7. Deb says

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful writing. I can remember my mother asking us 3 girls if we had enough to eat as we got older. Times were tough . My mother sisters tells the tale of my mother going to the grocery store with just what her mom gave her to buy food for the week. So the cheapest thing she could buy was a hunk of cheese . Cheese for a week. Oh My. Look forward to your e-mails every week. Thank you

  8. Dreampast Scotland says

    Keep your posts coming!! I enjoy reading them as I’m week 1 of 12 in medical isolation with my Mum as we both have underlying health conditions – Tonight at 8pm UK households were asked to stand at windows or door and clap for our Wonderful NHS Staff who are working hard under severe pressure due to OVID19 – I was hitting a stainless steel cook pan with a wooden spoon crying my eyes out like a Big Baby and praying that All my colleagues in Radiology will be safe and come through this – I can’t work with them due to my medical problems as it would be unsafe for me! So I pray for them every night! Your newsletters are a source of comfort and I love reading them – I pray that a antidote will be found for this soon!! Stay safe everyone!

    • Mary Younkin says

      Praying now that you’ll have everything you need during these weeks of isolation. The healthcare workers and other essential works right now are truly heroes!

  9. Linda says

    Hi Mary, Thank you for your post, “In These Moments”. It really touched my heart that you would tell us about your child hood and all the other comments you made.
    My husband and I are Senior Citizens and in the high risk group. We have always been “Hunkered Down In Our Home”. We are just like that, want the quite, take our naps and watch a few things on the TV. We are on a limited income and are disabled, so we don’t go out unless it’s to a Dr. appt. or to get groceries, which my husband does, since I don’t drive any more. We are not antisocial, just don’t like to be around a lot of people, much. We do have family in our area, Western Washington State, in a small town and see them occasionally.
    My husbands brother has always called us, “Mole People”, but guess what, now he and our sister-in-law, are doing the “Mole People” thing too! 😉 They like to GO a lot, kind of the Social Butterfly types and that is great for them, but not us.
    We are very happy to be together 24/7, and are best friends, so this “Stay At Home” order by our Governor, is no problem for us.
    I enjoy your recipes, even though I don’t cook a lot like I use to years ago. I do use the Slow Cooker when I fix something, so I look for recipes that are just for the Slow Cooker. I am in a Motorized Wheelchair, so fixing a complete meal in one easy step, really is great.
    I will have to look at your site and see if you have Slow Cooker recipes listed. We usually have canned Chicken, Ground Beef in the freezer, some times a Pork or Beef Roast too, which we cook and divide up for other meals down the road.
    Well, I think I’ve raddled on enough, sorry this is so long. I haven’t written to anyone since this Virus started, so it feels good to have a friendly face to chat with.
    Thank you again for posting your thoughts. I have seen a few other do similar things, but have not responded to their kind thoughts. I’ll have to be more responsible and talk to them as well.
    Oh yes, the pictures are really beautiful, are these in Ohio? If so you live in a very pretty spot!
    God Bless You and Your Family, Stay Safe, Linda

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’m glad to hear that you’re comfortable at home right now, Linda and that you have the food and supplies you need. We live in OH and love it here so very much.

  10. LOUISE INSCOE says

    I had the same experience today. I went to the grocery store for the first time in a week and a half and I saw so many empty shelves that is was scary-no toilet tissue, no paper towels, no chicken and no hamburger. There was only one lone pack of beans left. I remember much of what you wrote of – most meals revolved around a type of bean and potato until the garden began to produce. The one constant was a pan of biscuits in the oven every meal. My mama could take very little and make a meal for us. We did not have a lot, but we never went to bed hungry. We will make it through this and be better for it. Take care, stay safe, and God bless.
    (I always enjoy your emails.)

  11. LisaMarie says

    Reading your post sent me on a trip down memory lane. Sundays were my favorite days because we always got meat, gravy and potatoes. The other days… lets say I still cringe at the words creamed tuna and fish sticks. My Mom did the best she could providing meals for the family and until I was older I didn’t realize the sacrifices that she and my Dad made to ensure none of us went hungry. I don’t know if it is partially due to my childhood but I have never adapted to my own empty nest. I have plenty of meat in my freezer which I have been sharing with my family and working with what I have. For all of my husband’s griping about the lack of room in the freezer in the past, he is pretty silent now. Thank you for one of the most honest and down to earth posts I’ve seen lately. Best wishes to everyone for continued health <3 .

  12. Gail says

    Your email was like a breath of fresh brought back so many things I am grateful for..We were very poor and had a mother who could not cook. Her idea of pasta was tomatoes over pasta with American cheese (it really was what my dad liked) Pork chops she boiled then fried which I think eating actual leather would have been easier..the dogs loved me..But now I look back and laugh and wonder if my siblings ever think about that last piece of bread we cut in 5 pieces so we children all had a piece..or the tea bag used by each one of us with the hope you could taste the tea. They are treasured with that being said my Mom use to cut up apples and throw flour and cinn and nutmeg and she called it Apple Scrabble..the taste was amazing but I can never seem to get that great taste..could be the apples or just that Mothers touch?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Gail! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and that it also helped you remember things for which you are grateful. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  13. Sherry Quiggle says

    I became aware of your website when my sister sent me a copy of your cranberry cake in the holiday season. My sister I made it repeatedly to share and give as gifts and even varied it to create other desserts from it. It prompted me to try other things and so now i receive your wonderful, emails and have branched out to try many other things.

    However, it is this email that I’m reading this morning that has touched my heart and moved me to even touch base with you; because of your warmth and beautifully shared story, I am reduced to tears. Helping us prepare something more from what we have is brilliant and reveals your heart. Offering to listen while those of us who need to…….vent or share their feelings during this time and not only feeding our bodies but our spirits as well is a much greater gift and I know God will bless you just as you have blessed us with your warmth, sharing of recipes and shoulder. May God continue to bless you and humble us so that we hear his voice.

  14. Alice E says

    Thank you for this post. I truly appreciate it and your message. Our stores are the same and last time I went there wasn’t a single bag of flour or package of yeast to be had. Of course, there also were no eggs, paper goods and little choice in cleaning supplies. The stores here are limiting purchases and I appreciate that.

    I too hope that people will stop overbuying and leave some for others. We are all in this together and with common sense and a little creative cooking we will get through this and the younger folks will have stories to tell in decades to come.

  15. Dawn D. says

    Oh my, how your post brought back memories of raising my kids on very little. For a few years my husband had no work (and no unemployment) and I was working only part time. We had 4 kids at home then and I had to feed them many weeks on less than $25.00 – in the 90’s – not 50 years ago. I learned then how to stretch what we had. (I still have a hard time eating Campbell’s chicken noodle soup as we ate that a lot as it was only .29. lol) We had pancakes or waffles for supper many times but I still love them. I remember someone gave us a rotisserie chicken and we got 4 meals from that bird! My Mom grew up during the depression and had many cheap meal recipes. We would have cooked rice in a bowl with a tiny bit of butter, brown sugar and hot milk poured over top. Yum! Cornbread cut in half in a bowl with syrup and warm milk on is another easy cheap meal. You can have sausages on the side if you have them.

    It is not necessary to have huge amounts of meat in dishes. I made beef stew a couple of days ago with 2.4 lbs of a roast I got on sale. I made 2 beef stews in my electric pressure cookers that will give my husband and I 6 meals that were excellent for a cost of $15. Of course, that would be 2 meals for a family of four. Bread or biscuits with it stretches a little more. And a bowl of applesauce always tastes good – homemade even better.

    We in America take our prosperity for granted and will now have learn how not to be wasteful of anything and to appreciate what we do have. I find an attitude of gratitude goes a long ways toward making life more happy and peaceful!

    I’m actually kind of enjoying the stay at home thing as I am using it to try and get some cleaning or organizing done. I am going grocery shopping at our local grocery at special hours for seniors so I can also by for another senior friend who has very compromised health.

    Please remember to check on your senior friends and family or those that have health issues to see if they need anything so they don’t need to go out. We need to all pull together even if it is just by phone to keep our spirits up. Keep smiling and look for the good in your life!

    • Mary Younkin says

      I love this so much, Dawn. I couldn’t agree more that an attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward making life more happy and peaceful! Let’s all continue to check in on those around us.