My pantry is a bit of a mess. I have flour, milk, bananas. I’m out of coffee and peanut butter. These are my staples, and anything feels possible when I’m fully stocked. 

So I’m eating pizza for breakfast. On Thursday (one of my days off), I was languishing in my apartment and moaning about how I’m bored. Again. It’s a sign of how long this pandemic has lasted (and continues to last here in Canada where my vaccine is not even a whisper of possibility until July). 

Remember how I made pancakes at all hours of the day? Remember how I made sausage gravy from scratch? Remember how I rolled my own pasta?

What happened to that person? Where did she go? And how can we bring her back?

This month I’ve eaten brunch at Wooden Spoon, both Mary Brown’s and Popeye’s chicken sandwiches (Popeye’s wins the sandwich; MB’s wins the fries), frozen dumplings from Sungiven, and on Thursday, I ordered a cheese pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken alfredo, and samosa from Damiano’s on the corner. I’m still considering walking down to the beach for fish and chips some time this weekend. I woke up on Saturday morning, and all I wanted were waffles. I made a lot of waffles in early quarantine; so many, in fact, that I burned out my waffle maker. I haven’t bought a new one yet. There are only 5 waffle makers at Canadian Tire from which to choose, but I can’t decide. Do I want round or square? (My last on was maple leaf shaped.) Do I want horizontal or vertical? 

What I really want is the waffle maker I grew up with: square, yellow enamel (or yellowed white enamel?), smaller than a laptop. What I want are the waffles I grew up with, but my mom doesn’t make those anymore because that’s two waffle makers ago.

Comfort food and self-soothing, for me, is always about childhood. I want reminders of the time when I had no responsibilities, when I knew what I was supposed to be doing, when I didn’t have to make all the decisions myself. I want milky tea, oatmeal with brown sugar, peanut butter sandwiches, fish and chips eaten off newsprint. I want someone else to call me to dinner and tell me to wash my hands before sitting at the table, where everything is ready to eat. 

It’s raining this morning, and I don’t think I’ll get my fish and chips today. Yesterday, I finished the coffee, and the only tea I have in the house is Earl Grey, which just isn’t what I want in this moment. So I made hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate from my childhood was Carnation powder. If Mom wasn’t looking, we’d heap two big tablespoons into our mugs, mix it with boiling water from the kettle, then as many marshmallows as would fit without spilling too much over the sides. If we were lucky enough to have whipped cream in the fridge, I’d make a half cup of hot chocolate and fill the rest of the space with cream, drinking a tunnel through the white mountain.

This morning, in my biggest mug, I measured half soy milk, half water, then poured it into a pot on high heat. The only sugar currently in my pantry is coarse cane sugar I use for topping pastries, but it works. Add a heaping spoonful, then two spoonfuls of Dutch process cocoa (or any cocoa, but that’s what I have). Mix vigorously because cocoa loves nothing more than to make lumps; that’s why every recipe tells you to sift it.

I finished with my immersion blender to get a bit of foam floating on the top. I wish I had some whipped cream or even some marshmallows, but my pantry is a mess. I tried to make a chocolate cake last night, but it was only sad. Hot chocolate this morning is my redemption. 

I hope it carries me through to better days.