My sincere apologies if the idea of cooking from the pantry — and the mere mention of beans — is already wearing on you. But though the days and hours seem to drift together, we’ve really only been at this stay-at-home, work-at-home thing for a week. (Or is it two?) And while I really hope some of you might be a in a place far, far away from the reach of coronavirus (Antarctica?), I also know that many of you are in New York and other places where venturing out is suddenly fraught.

Here on the Vineyard, our towns voted yesterday to adopt a strict “stay at home” order, so my mission is now clear: to make cooking with what’s on hand easier for folks. (Yes, we can still grocery shop, but the less frequently the better. More on that below.)

To that end, I’ve put together two things for you. The first is a Stuck-at-Home Bean Chili recipe based on pantry ingredients plus whatever meat you choose (hopefully from the freezer). The chili is plenty tasty for a starter recipe; my partner happily ate two variations of it over four nights. We particularly liked the chicken and white bean version. Leftovers of the ground beef and black bean chili made great burritos. Experienced cooks can noodle with this recipe, but it's also a good one to send to that 20-something child who suddenly has to use the kitchen in his apartment.

Secondly, I wrote a piece for you about my favorite pantry essentials. But instead of insisting that you go out and buy things, I’m suggesting that you might already have what you need to make delicious meals. Because flavor-boosters fall nicely into groups (acids, fats, sweets, salts, spices, umami condiments, etc.) — if you don’t have one, you can use another. Out of lemons? Use a dash of vinegar, juice from a pickle jar, or hot sauce. Read Your Pantry is Stocked with Hidden Flavor for more tricks and substitutions.

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