When it comes to dealing with election night anxiety, some people obsessively refresh vote counts, some watch delightfully random videos, and some stress-cook. Here’s what those of us in the final tribe at Slate are nervously whipping up. Feel free to do the same. Or don’t. We are a nation divided! 😬🗳️🍰😬💥
Apple Cider Whoopie Pies
While deadly serious in impact, there’s no denying this midterm campaign season has been absurd in many ways. So, I thought to myself, why not stress-bake something equally absurd to match the occasion? That’s why I chose these Apple Cider Whoopie Pies, which are like cinnamon-y cider doughnuts stuffed with cream cheese frosting. It’s not that the recipe itself is beset with requirements designed to suppress your ability to make it (I already make my own apple butter, so that part was easy). No, what’s absurd is that I made this big batch of goofy pies for no one in particular, sort of like putting a lot of energy into a campaign that can really go nowhere because of gross gerrymandering. Or something. I don’t really know why I made these! But it was better than thinking any more about why our government currently functions the absurd way that it does. Whoopie!
Source: Apple Cider Whoopie Pies
—J. Bryan Lowder
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
A chocolate olive oil cake from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs’ book A New Way to Dinner will be my stress bake tonight. I’ve never made this before, though I’ve baked many an olive oil cake in my time, including the delicious one from the restaurant Maialino that’s the inspiration for this chocolate version. I’ve been turning out a lot of baked goods recently, because having a toddler around seems to bring that out in you, and it’s now much more important to me that the things I bake have yogurt, olive oil, or whole grains in them. This cake seems like it will deliver that not-to-sweet, providing-for-your-family’s-future feeling of solidity that I desperately need tonight. I’m going to bring a quarter to a third of it to the babysitter tomorrow, and keep the rest for us, to eat in celebration or in mourning.
Recipe: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Cookies ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream and Hot Fudge
“Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” I think my dad usually said these words when packing for camping and fishing expeditions, but after 2016, my girlfriend and roommate and I have decided it applies to election nights. That’s why my menu and evening activities have been carefully planned to promote joy, the kind of joy that can hopefully withstand whatever the night throws in its face. Tonight, while watching the household’s favorite election-themed sitcom episodes on Netflix (and let’s be honest, checking election returns on our cellphones), I’m making homemade ice cream and hot fudge, while a frozen pizza bakes in the oven.
Why this particular fare? Imagine an election night food graph where the x-axis is joy and the y-axis is difficulty. On a night such as this, you want something that maximizes joy without being so difficult to prepare that it puts extra weight on an already stress-addled mind. Our menu hits that sweet spot. Popping the frozen pizza in the oven right after work allows us plenty of free time to get straight to the welcome distractions we’ll be putting on TV to drown out that little Wolf-Blitzer devil sitting on our shoulders. The ice cream and hot fudge? All the pleasure a soufflé brings with none of its difficulty. And in case the night goes sour, we’ll have something sweet.
I was wide awake at 5 a.m. facing the dread of another traumatizing election day. I’d already decided to stay as busy as possible throughout the day, so I decided to use the early rising to my advantage by trying out the delicious looking focaccia recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.* I searched for the recipe online last week, but I was turned off by the 12-14-hour proofing period. This was the perfect way to make the long day ahead work for me. It’s been very comforting to poke the rising dough throughout the day. At least something is going according to plan! On my lunch break, I got to chopping and threw together an improvised pot of bean and pork stew. The slow consistent simmering has comforted me and given me something distracting to think about whenever my mind would wonder. And I will be happily cradling my warm stew and fresh bread when the results start rolling in.
Recipe: Focaccia Bread
Tonight, my partner Rosemary baked up these banana-pumpkin muffins made with almond flour. They’re a great breakfast; low fat, but very filling. They last for ages in the fridge—hopefully unlike the GOP in power. I’ve never made them myself, but it looks like fun to squish up bananas and mix them with pumpkin. The apartment smells amazing right now—a much better smell than pre-election-result flop sweat and panic! And what’s more suited to our current moment than bananas?
Recipe: Brain Healthy Muffins (Rosemary recommends using only 1/3 of the oil.)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Coming home after a long election day, there’s nothing I want more than a comfort bake. It should be hearty, stronger than a simple chocolate chip cookie, but still sweet, warm, and soothing, like a radiator-heated sweater. Tonight is for oatmeal raisin cookies. Their firm, chewy texture gives my teeth the satisfying chomp needed to sate my anger and/or hunger, and the toasty spices of cinnamon and nutmeg filling my apartment keeps dread at bay. As I scoop out mounds of gooey dough, I forget about the stress and anxiety that’ve filled the past few months and lose myself in a mixture of flour, eggs, sugar, and oats. That is, until I open my windowless oven, slide the balls inside, and cross my fingers for the next twelve minutes while that dark, unobserved heat works its magic.
Recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Correction, Nov. 7, 2018: This post originally misidentified the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat as Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat.