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Mastering the Art of Stay-at-Home Cooking



The announcement for citizens to shelter-in-place to avoid exposure to the coronavirus will arrive in your area soon if it hasn't already.  Here in Illinois, schools, restaurants and virtually all social gathering places were closed in domino fashion on orders of Governor Pritzker over the weekend.  For those of us who are always thinking about the next meal, the prospect of spending two weeks (at least) in isolation feels like forever.  Our choices are limited.  There's supermarket fare of pre-cooked foods and order-in pizza. If you decide to do your own cooking, well, I happen to have a plan for that (without having to consult Elizabeth Warren).

Since a bonafide stay-at-home cookbook for the current situation has yet to be written, we might as well write our own.  I propose we improvise a collection of simple dishes using staples already in our refrigerators, cupboards and spice collections. The results will contain unusual combinations, but these unusual times require a spirit of adventure.  As luck would have it, I have a sample recipe to share.  You probably saw that coming. 

If you have eggs in the refrigerator, an onion of any kind, a few spices and six cherry tomatoes you can make what I think of as one of the 'real foods' of India.,  Parsi Scrambled Eggs is a staple dish on hotel breakfast buffets on India's west coast.  It checks all the boxes for our needs in quarantine conditions:  It is healthful, delicious any time of day, highly receptive to improvisation, and it’s easy to prepare.  The term Parsi is the name Indians gave to the followers of the Persian prophet Zoroaster in the 7th century when they  emigrated from what is now Iran to avoid persecution.  The Zoroastrian belief that the egg is a symbol of fertility and new life inspired a number of interesting egg dishes.  You may want to check them out.

Let's start a  collection Shelter-at-Home recipes.   Send me three photos: 1. the interior of your refrigerator, 2. your food pantry and 3.your spice collection.  (Don’t bother to clean beforehand.)  I will then send you a recipe to try using the ingredients you have on hand.  If we both agree it's a winner, I will share it on this blog.  You can also send me a photo and a recipe that you've prepared from your supplies on hand.  If it tests out, I will share it online. 

Working in concert,  we can make the most of life at the table while we stay at home.


3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter or oil

1/4 cup minced onions of any variety

1/8 teaspoon powdered cumin

1/8 teaspoon powdered turmeric

1 - 3 finely chopped green chilis or up to 1/2 teaspoon powdered chili

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger

4 large cherry tomatoes, each cut into 6 pieces

3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro, parsley or dill (1 tablespoon if dried)

Optional: 6 cooked asparagus stalks cut into 1” lengths or left whole 

Beat the eggs together with the salt in a small bowl, and allow them to stand 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the recipe. ( Food Geek Alert: Salt will denature the yolks and the cooked eggs will not ‘weep’ on the plate.) 

Cut and measure the remaining ingredients, then heat the butter or oil in a non-stick skillet.  Saute the onions until they soften, stir in the  cumin, turmeric and chili peppers. Cook the pepper for a minute or two before adding the ginger. If all the seasonings are dried stir them briefly and add in the tomatoes  When the tomatoes juices have reduced.  Sprinkle on the freshly minced or dried herbs and pour the eggs into the skillet.  As the eggs begin to set, circle the pan with a spatula turning the eggs in toward the center.  Shake the pan and break up the curds while cooking them to the desired firmness. Turn the eggs out onto a plate and serve immediately.

Optional Vegetables: Boil or steam the asparagus in advance.  Add cut pieces to the skillet just before the eggs, folding them in as they cook or pile the scrambled eggs over warm, whole cooked spears before serving.  Other delicious vegetable additions include peas, chopped broccoli or cauliflower.