2020: Looking Back and the One Recipe I’d Keep for the Next Pandemic

Honey Chipotle Biscuits

2020.

Dumpster fire. Tragedy. Absurdist comedy.

Words like “apex” and “pandemic” became part of our shared daily vocabulary. We wore face masks and washed our hands like our lives depended on it – because it did.

We worked from our couches, connected via Zoom calls, and wore pajamas to our home offices. It was a year of day drinking, homeschooling, and quarantine memes. Parks became cool and face masks became a political fashion statement.

Relationships got stronger or broke entirely as we discovered who we wanted and, more importantly, did not want to be with during a crisis.

It’s the year I started watching CNN like a news junkie and six months later refused to watch the news at all because I was exhausted and angry from listening to a man with a bad spray tan tear my country apart. So I did the only thing I could that mattered – I stood in a line for hours with people wearing face masks and I voted.

Surreal experiences reached heightened levels in 2020, like the moment I saw a rapper’s name on the Presidential ballot. There were other moments too, big ones, like a plot to kidnap a governor and overthrow the government. And there were smaller ones, like a shooting at a McDonald’s near my home because a customer wasn’t allowed to eat in the dining area during the quarantine.

2020 was also a celebration of mindless diversions.

TikTok entertained me with dog videos and bad lip-syncing. An Indigenous pow-wow dancer amazed me with his mind-blowing moves. His “fancy dancing” – a feathered twirling native dance to pop songs – made me feel happy and proud of my people.

I lived with a never-ending Netflix and Hulu queue playing in the background while I embraced “work from home” life. I found comfort in bad episodes of the O.C. and surprising satisfaction in old re-runs of Frasier (it holds up).

And I saw something I never thought I’d see in my life as a Native American; the long-overdue acknowledgment and removal of racist mascots.

Rage in 2020 was palpable. Marches and riots took over the streets in my hometown and across the country. The marginalized pushed back against a broken system. And I saw something I never thought I’d see in my life as a Native American; the long-overdue acknowledgment and removal of racist mascots.

We acknowledged Indigenous People’s Day in place of a holiday celebrating a man who slaughtered Indigenous people. The AP stylebook declared the word “Indigenous” needed to be capitalized. Small things like that felt large. Social justice took center stage for a moment for all brown people, and it was powerful.

It was also the year of loss, experienced by many different people in many different ways. For me, it was the year I lost my only remaining parent and learned that sometimes difficult relationships end without closure or goodbyes. Maybe I already knew that. But I finally accepted that sometimes endings are not neat. Or simple. That sometimes, there is only silence. And you live with it and move forward as best you can.

2020 was a compendium of bizarre contradictions too. I scrolled through smiling Instagram feeds of affluent-types complaining about canceled travel plans. On my television, a very different stream of images appeared. Hospital hallways overflowed with patients, semi-trucks arrived to store bodies because there wasn’t room in morgues, people broke into tears.

Those who lived in the exotic locales others lamented not being able to visit cried in interviews. No one could hold hands with hospitalized loved ones or attend their funerals to grieve together during COVID-19.

The world was at once both compassionate and callous.

2020 was the year we faced our nation’s worst hunger crisis since The Great Depression – and I gained weight.

I lived in a state of contradiction too – cooking, ordering comfort foods, and posting pictures of my culinary creations. But during my workdays as a fundraiser for a non-profit, I sifted through hunger and unemployment stats, heartbreaking interviews from people struggling to feed their children, and reports of growing food lines. 2020 was the year we faced our nation’s worst hunger crisis since The Great Depression – and I gained weight.

I also watched as people came together in 2020 to help each other. There was a lot of kindness, undoubtedly, and it moved me.

I liked working for a non-profit. We helped food reach communities in crisis. It felt good to do something that mattered but the intensity and pressure of fundraising during COVID-19 became overwhelming at times. It took a toll.

I can’t say I was my best self in 2020. I lived in pajamas. I had days where I didn’t want to leave my bed – couldn’t leave my bed – so I didn’t. And I don’t think I was the only one. During the pandemic, we discovered the fragility of our mental health as we collectively experienced depression, isolation, stress, grief, and loneliness.

But it wasn’t all bad. The first commercial space flight launched. Africa saw the end of polio and Taylor Swift dropped two albums. Science had remarkable breakthroughs like harvesting invisible sunlight and fast-tracking a life saving vaccine for the world.

In 2020, I discovered that I loved working from home and spending time with my four furry best friends. My office moved around the house, from bed to couch to the kitchen counter. On summer days, there was sunshine and fresh air on the back patio and routine excitement over squirrel sightings. I didn’t miss crowds or busy nightlife. It was fun to explore parks and rediscover my love for nature on camping trips.

2020 was also the year of home cooking. From loaves of sourdough bread to a myriad of other culinary comforts, we rejoiced in the work of making a good meal. 

2020 was also the year of home cooking. From loaves of sourdough bread to a myriad of other culinary comforts, we rejoiced in the work of making a good meal. That was the best part of 2020 for me. Cooking was my escape and a way to stay sane. It helped me reconnect to my culture and discover a community of Indigenous cooks and chefs.

I harnessed that passion for cooking – the nights staying awake dreaming up biscuit and bison recipes- and I started a blog. This blog.

I married a love of food and love of writing together. What will it become? I don’t know. In 2005, I nurtured a design blog for a few years. It was a fun outlet. Maybe this blog will bring someone joy as they try a recipe or provide a little inspiration for their next meal. My hope is that it brings more awareness to the world of Native American influenced cuisine. Maybe it can help me branch into freelance food writing. At the very least, it’s a wonderful way to stay motivated and create more recipes, cook more and write more.

And so that leads me to this. The thing I promised to share – the one recipe from 2020 that I’d keep for the next time we have a global crisis (which I hope never happens).

Without further ado…

Honey Chipotle Biscuits
These fiery sweet biscuits will make a surprising treat for your breakfast table.

Honey Chipotle Biscuits

Honey Chipotle Biscuits

Nah. Definitely NOT like Grandma used to make them — fiery, sweet Chipotle honey #biscuits. Whew, they got that gooood burn!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2 to 4 tsps of chipotle powder (depending on preference)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chilled evaporated milk mixed with:
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions

Whisk dry ingredients and add 5 to 6 tbsp cubed cold butter (I stick mine in the freezer). Incorporate butter and combine with flour until a grainy texture is formed. Mix wet ingredients slowly to dry ingredients. When a shaggy dough is formed, dump onto a floured surface and knead. Flatten and fold three times. Use flour to keep from sticking. Make biscuits by hand or use a chilled floured cutter. Brush with butter. Bake at 450 for approximately 15 minutes. Remove 5 minutes early to brush tops with a mix of: melted butter, honey, chipotle powder.

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CategoriesBreakfast

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