By Veronica Orton
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
My goodness, how I have heard that word more times these past couple weeks than I have in all my years combined! According to Dictionary.com, the word quarantine means “a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.”
A word that so sparsely came from my mouth before now escapes from my lips at least three times a day. This word was once unfamiliar and used only in circumstances that did not include myself or those that I knew. But now this is a word that seems to be detrimental to all of our daily lives, health and safety.
Not having been quarantined before, this is new territory for myself – as I am sure it is for most of you. (Unless you have lived through a global pandemic or have been exposed to an infectious disease.)
This time of quarantine has been a shocking halt to our everyday activities. Some of you may be working from home or out of work completely, or others might be taking part in remote learning for school. Your quarantine routine seems to be an endless cycle of waking up, eating, working, snacking, napping, working, and suddenly it's time for bed already. Then, before you know it, it's time to wake up, repeat that cycle and hope you can remember what day of the week it is.
Are you getting bored out of your mind? If so, I know exactly how you feel! So, I’ve decided to come together with my sisters to bring you a few ideas that have given us something fun to do and have shaken up our quarantine routine.
I hope these can bring you a little bit of hope, happiness and fun in these strange times.
The Best Quarantine Chocolate Chip Cookies
If your quarantine routine has not included a little bit of baking, stop what you’re doing right now and pay attention!
Every once in a while it is nice to treat yourself to something sweet and delicious. And don’t worry, if you’re not one for a little indulgence, there will be something here for you. But we’ll get to that later on.
The first time I made chocolate chip cookies during quarantine I was pumped, because I had found the last bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips at Target. It was about the first week of practicing social distancing and quarantine, and the shelves were just about empty at Wegmans and Target. But that last bag of chocolate chips made it in my cart and into my kitchen.
These cookies were delicious. Or so I thought. Everyone in my family had a different opinion. Two thought they were too salty. But as a lover of balancing sweet with salty, of course I liked them! Another thought they were overcooked, and just one person agreed with me that they were quite satisfactory.
So needless to say, I lost my baking crown real quick, as my sister, Candace, took over the throne.
But I can’t even complain. These are the best dang chocolate chip cookies I have EVER had. This is no exaggeration. I don’t think I will ever be able to eat another chocolate chip cookie and not compare them to this recipe. They have the perfect ratio of chips to dough, and soft gooeyness to crisp edges.
Alright; enough about them, here’s how you can make them!
Now, Candace found this recipe on Pinterest, but of course she made it a little bit of her own. When I asked her what her secret was, she was a little reluctant to give it away. But, the chocolate chip cookie queen decided it was better off that everyone else was able to share in the joy these cookies brought us.
“I eyeball the chocolate chips and add two extra splashes of vanilla. And I cook them for the least amount of time in the instructions for them to be gooey and chewy. But if you want them well done, cook them for the full amount of time,” the cookie queen said.
√ Combine the dry ingredients: Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
√ Make cookie dough: Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the eggs, then add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. To keep from overmixing, use a spatula instead of your mixer.
√ Bake the cookies: Fold in chocolate chips by hand. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. If the dough is chilled, remove dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Drop spoonfuls 2-3 tablespoons) of dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
√ Cool on a wire rack before serving.
You can find the full recipe at https://cravinghomecooked.com/chocolate-chip-cookies/ and the original creator’s extra tips and tricks.
“In a time when nothing is certain or assured, there’s one thing I'm certain and sure of: It’s these cookies bringing a big ole smile to your face,” Candace said.
Now that you’ve curved your sweet cravings, it's nice to balance it out a little bit to make sure during this time you are still staying healthy and happy.
Staying Fit With a New Quarantine Workout
Taking care of your body is so important. Especially after you’ve eaten almost a dozen of those chocolate chip cookies! I'll be honest with you, it will happen. They are simply irresistible! But you know what they say, “From the lips, straight to the hips!”
I’m sure all you want to do is sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. I am guilty as charged. I have enjoyed my fair share of Netflix and Amazon Prime videos – probably more than I should admit!
But those hips need a little shaking here and there. So, here is a quick workout that can be done anyplace and anytime. There is no need for a gym or equipment – or for you to even leave your bedroom. (I’ve seriously been doing mine in a tiny, little 10-foot square!) This at-home workout is here to give you an outlet to let off some steam and stay physically and mentally healthy.
This workout comes from our “family personal trainer,” aka my sister Brigitte. She has a passion for working out and has recently begun to share her workouts on her social media platforms. People love seeing what she is doing to stay in shape, and have started joining her in a live Instagram workout every once in a while. After consulting with her, she found a workout set she had been enjoying herself. It originally came from @demibagby, a fitness Instagram influencer, but Brigitte included some tips, and thoughts on the workout as described below.
“This workout incorporates your entire body. It’s a compound workout that will get you sweating. It is a workout for beginners, intermediate, advanced and none of the above,” Brigitte said.
Full Body Circuit: Do each exercise for 30 seconds, with a 25-second break between each exercise and a 60-second rest after each round (do two or three).
So why is this workout beneficial to you?
Well besides working off some of those cookies you ate, “There is evidence that working out and doing some type of movement improves not only your physical well-being, but mental, emotional and spiritual. God loves when you take care of our bodies. This workout will simply make you stronger! And strong feels good!” said your new favorite “quarantine personal trainer,” Brigitte.
To find more workouts, follow Brigitte on Instagram where her handle is @brig.nicole.o.
Another way to stay active is simply by taking a walk outside! Walk, or in my case hop, skip and dance, around your neighborhood. Or why not find a park or trail near you and explore around in some fresh air?
Surely it will ease your mind and take you away from the stress of everything that is going on in the world for a little bit. And once you’ve done that, go ahead and grab yourself a cookie as a treat! That’s if they aren’t all gone yet.
The last activity to shake up your quarantine routine is beneficial to both you and your community.
Quarantine, But Make it Fun and Safe
Just because we are in quarantine, does not mean you have to be stuck in your house 24/7! There are ways to get out of your house, while still practicing social distancing and staying healthy. Please follow the recommendations and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control while doing so. To find these specific instructions, visit the CDC website.
The CDC says:
Once you’re doing these things, hop in your car, turn your favorite playlist on, and go for a drive around your neighborhood. Having a good jam session is sure to make you feel a little bit more alive and give you some much-needed energy.
But why drive around just your neighborhood?
Place a takeout order at your favorite local restaurant, café or coffee shop and take a drive to go pick it up! Not only is this giving you something to get out of the house for, but you are supporting local businesses that need your support now, more than ever. My favorite local businesses to support are Scripts Cafe and Steamworks Coffee Roasters.
I love the chocolate chip cookies, and I have enjoyed going on walks and staying active. But as someone who doesn't like to be locked up in the house all day, I have found freedom in going for a drive with my windows down and just belting out a couple of my favorite songs! I swear there is no better feeling than that.
I have found that these three activities make my quarantine routine a lot less rudimentary, and instead bring me joy and freedom – when it’s hard to find that in trying times such as these.
Try out these new activities my sisters and I have enjoyed and see if you can shake up your quarantine routine, too!
See also >>
Steamworks Coffee continues to provide high quality coffee and espresso to its customers during COVID-19 by adapting to a new mobile ordering app called “Joe.”
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