Hello, Stargrazers, and welcome back to what you should eat, as envisioned by your horoscope and the astral plane. This is the season of Aquarius, the water carrier, which is apt for these trying-ass times: Aquarius is the most socially progressive, humanitarian, and political-as-personal sign of them all. Under Uranus, the ruling planet of Aquarius, we’ll collectively witness a mighty transformation of lots that we’ve come to know as familiar. It signifies and enacts developments in culture that ask us to change our responses to the world around us as they, too, shape-shift.
We have to be increasingly clever, understanding, innovative, and canny to stay on top of things. We’re going to expand what we think we’re capable of this season—and that will extend to how we eat, how we provide for others and ourselves, and how we think about food in concurrence with the rest of the world. You can show me how that’s working for you on Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #stargrazing—include your sign! I’ll doubtlessly try to copy your work in my own kitchen before showing it off in next month’s column.
Happy birthday, first of all. I know it can seem hard to find many occasions for celebration when you’re fixated on caring for and helping others. However, because you’re so generous with your time, brain, and energy, your people will want to do something honoring your constant contributions to the betterment of everything that gets near you. So make a crew-sized batch of something delicious and serve it to the home team—of course, you’ll very likely insist on doing it yourself, but let them sing to you. They want to, and you deserve a wish.
What to get together? Well, this red velvet cake seems tight. (The frosting intrigues me; maybe you’ll just make that and pave it onto the bare cake of your choosing? I like that idea.) Or, since you love a challenge: This Brooks Headley–borne chocolate “wedding cake” is all chocolate–olive oil layers, ricotta buttercream, and “chocolate spiderweb thingies,” as yapped from the Del Posto pastry department. Zag! If you are wiped from all your hard work and don’t want to cook/bake, you could shove together a few rounds of my god’s-honest favorite milkshake: a quarter-cup chocolate soy milk, one pint of either Häagen-Dazs coffee/vanilla/chocolate trio ice cream or chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and two interpretational-sized pinches of coarse sea salt. Blend it for twenty seconds, then pour it into mugs with a straw and spoon stuck into each. I’m telling you: that is the truth and the future, two phenomena I know you’re really invested in. I’m milkshake-toasting you from here, Aquarius. You’re going to have a beautiful year and help others to do the same.
Uranus has a specific impact on you, Pisces, that sets its presence apart in your life more than it might in its influence on other signs. Since Uranus doubles down on eliciting a trait that’s already familiar to you—compassion—there’s a risk that you may not treat yourself with as much care as you’re committed to showing to others. I’d love for you to contrast any potential martyrdom in part with food. In between stints being your own version of this valiant person, it’s a good idea to spend time with (only slightly!) health-tweaked versions of food that, traditionally, has offered you solace and really solid naps after consumption.
I like the looks of this farro, cauliflower, bread-crumb, and ricotta jammer, which seems delectable in an alfredo-ish way. Or you can forgo cheese (blasphemous, I know, but I sometimes do so when my doctor looks at me sternly enough) and make this creamy vegan cashew cheese sauce, for use on everything—I’ve loved making a similar version for years. Use liquid aminos as a substitute for soy sauce—they taste the same, and the former has only a little sodium. Try moong dal khichdi during stretches when you just can’t eat any more risotto but somehow still are impelled to (this happens to me regularly, eliciting Doc’s consternation). DRINK MAD WATER. The idea is to keep you running well, rather than run ragged. If the best means of being cool to yourself are expressed more honestly by candy and grandma slices instead, that’s great. Whatever they may be, make sure you’re eating foods that make it easier for you to give yourself to others—you need to make sure there’s something there to give in the first place.
New challenges for you under the changing tides of Aquarius are going to have a lot to do with your patience for yourself and for others. When you want to rush into action all the time, it’s annoying that, in order to ensure the effectiveness and longevity of all the plans you’re wishing to enact straightaway, all at once, you have to take parts of each process slowly and methodically if any of it’s going to work. (I’m realizing that I just unwittingly recounted the parable of “The Tortoise and the Hare” to you, but let their story stand as supplemental proof! Don’t follow their diets, though. All either animal eats is lettuce, and that is truly my idea of hell on earth.)
I want you, please, to resolve to actually sit down and eat breakfast for at least four out of seven days for each week until next season. While you eat, don’t look at your phone—the news can so easily ruin a day that’s barely hatched; incubate a better mood, instead, with a meal and a book, partner, roommate, family member, or your thoughts. I swear this will work mightily to lock in a sense of serenity and stability that will make the rest of the day harder for current events to wreck up.
Plan what you’ll make on which morning, set your alarm a few moments earlier, and shower the night before, if you must. Very strong coffee and some seltzer are implied accompaniments to each of the following recipes. For weekdays: Whatever fruit is in season, plus nuts, plus your favorite kind of yogurt (mine is Noosa, especially the strawberry rhubarb). Pancakes that take all of fifteen minutes to make. Scrambled eggs with cheese melted on them (cover the pan) in the last second before they’re done, sandwiched between toast with bacon, pepper, and ketchup—or you can microwave an egg and eat it on an English muffin with Cheddar and ham for a McDonald’s-ish sando, which I love. A greens-and-garlic frittata that you could make once, then reheat and eat all week. Lox on a bagel with cream cheese! Oatmeal with peanut butter and jam mixed in! Cereal, for the love of Pete! On the weekends, you might have more room to make bacon, egg, and cheese dumplings, blueberry and lemon sweet rolls, or a bacon, sweet potato, turmeric, egg, and avocado breakfast bowl. Or whatever will peel you out of bed most quickly, then make you take your time most slowly. You have so many opportunities to make yourself happy in the mornings to come, and I think you could really use them: be patient, and know your moves in advance of actually making them.
Crafty person, let’s put your handiness to work making yourself and others happy by means of flour and time. Baked goods are easily shared among neighbors, officemates, friends, and those you live with. They’re an excellent surprise—especially when so many recent “surprises” have been difficult, at best—and a fabulous method for sublimating your feelings into food that improves your mood and the moods of the people around you. You love to work through despair or frustration with a task, and everyone else loves muffins: I can’t see a single flaw with this plan.
Immediately after getting back from the Disrupt J20 and Women’s marches in Washington, I baked these impeccable coconut-oatmeal drop cookies from Magnolia Bakery’s cookbook (just call me Carrie Bradshaw, baby!!!! I know good sex, I can tell you this!!!!!!). I divided them among my roommate to share with his office, the person I’m dating, my downstairs neighbor, and my own face. (The recipe makes many, many cookies.) I intend to repeat that soon, and I’ve also had my eye on these baking projects that might calm any coarseness recently sparking in your nerves, Taurus—these all appeal to your of-the-hearth wholesomeness pretty well: man’oushe, a Lebanese flatbread flavored with za’atar, Biscoff-and-chocolate blondies, jalapeño-cheddar muffins, and m’smen, a life-reshaping Moroccan flatbread. I’m willing to bet that directing your energies toward a baking project would take some of the world’s heft off of your brain, Taurus, and if not? Your kitchen will smell remarkable, the people around you will be happy and appreciative, and you’ll have something aces and warm to eat. So you’d be wrong about the first thing, anyway. Go preheat the oven, honey.
You love to make routine and/or classically defined areas of life feel, however possible, novel. If it’s been dark and cold where you are for quite some time now, that’s difficult to translate into something that feels more pleasurable or newer—unless you double down! Since this is the final stretch of what has seemed like an interminable season (as, I guess, most winters do?), it’s time to WINTER OUT before the winter’s out. Okay: make not just Swiss Miss, but the pastry chef Jacques Torres’s hoity-toity and extremely viscous hot chocolate. Thinking of getting a beef stew together? Put extra thought into the cut of the meat and wine you’re using, and apply that to this meticulous bourguignon recipe. Invent a red-sauce monster hybrid casserole called CHICKEN PARME-SAGNA that includes noodles, ricotta, breaded chicken, mozzarella, and tons of quality parmesan—this is my newly appointed second-favorite lasagna mutation, placing only faintly behind pizzagna.
That last modal philosophy, of mashing together comfort foods, is exactly the flavor of expected/unexpected combination you’ll feel clever consuming right now. Other plans to this tune include baking brownies with pretzels and peanut butter and marshmallows in them, swapping moussaka for shepherd’s pie or vice versa, using sparking apple cider—I’m imagining my favorite chef, Cam’ron, saying “Martinelli’s!” in his Cam’ron voice—in cocktails, or experimenting with fried chicken burritos. Whatever makes the familiar feel, instead, irreverent. You’re good at that, as a rule.
Expediency and ease are king and queen of your gustatory world right now. That doesn’t mean “meals that sacrifice anything to the clock, or the Internet-y One-Pot gods.” In keeping with the true don Marcella Hazan’s priorities for home cooking: typically, you don’t need to kick up a fuss in order to eat extremely well, and your food is usually better in the end, the less complicated it is. If you’re going to take good care of where you live, and yourself by means of what you eat, your meals are going to have to come together quickly. That way, you can spend time doing everything else you want and need to pay attention to right now.
To wit, why not make Hazan’s gorgonzola sauce? Or her spaghetti frittata, to which you can also add a few handfuls of cooked spinach before baking, if you like? I have some other dinner ideas for you on a similar wave. It will seem paradoxical, but Ashley Christensen’s (of Poole’s Diner) “slow shrimp” recipe takes just over twenty minutes and requires very few ingredients. (Per this review of the cookbook, it’s just as good to buy the jarred Cento version of the marinated peppers from the supermarket. You can also skip ’em if you don’t have time to care.) If you want to use these shraaaamps in a pseudo-scampi for the ages, add mad garlic to them two minutes before they’re done.
Other dinner plots: This cadmium-colored salmon in a Bengali mustard sauce looks royal! And I know you wouldn’t be mad at a spicy beef-and-broccolini stir-fry (unless, as a vegetarian, you would be, in which case, try this Burmese cabbage one instead). Oh, and just in case: The best national drive-through chain is Wendy’s. Marcella would agree, I bet.
Slow (cooker) jams are the reason for this season, Leo.
If you choose chili in the aim of freezing it for meals to come, you’d better make it an ass-kicking one. On nachos, inside slapdash, fake-o “empanadas,” on top of baked potatoes, or incorporated into enchiladas (also one of my favorite foods to prepare FAR too much of, then freeze for the inevitable times when I come home drunk and know I shouldn’t order delivery, am sick, or otherwise am behaving like a laze cadet).
My best Virgo friend and I have been talking a lot about how it seems like all of our friends (including us) have been, in low voices, individually coming to us to say, “I’m so depressed, and I can’t believe anyone is able to function right now—I’m barely holding it together.” That feeling of isolationist despond is widespread, but no one feels like they can cop to it, which I think extends and complexifies it. I asked my Virgo cohort, “What can we do for everybody right now?” She decided the answer is to get ten people at a time together for a dinner party—one-on-one hangs still feel a little lonesome; huge ragers are too impersonal to really feel that group camaraderie that might be the momentary panacea to this mass winter/executive branch–based anhedonia. Plan accordingly.
I trust your keen senses of organization and productivity to arrange lovely provisions for those who need it right now (including you) in the forms of food and people. How about a buffet-style dinner for ten? Maybe each guest knows at least one other person there. But: I’d say that friendly, warm, interesting brainiacs might like to be presented with new evidence that others sharing those qualities exist and persist in the wider world. That feels like safety, and will lead to Uranus-approved, fresh idea exchanges about taking action that’ll also honor your great love of pragmatism.
Since we do know you love a plan, let’s use a template of five dishes here—one bread, one salad, one vegetable, one grain, one main. And my official suggestions are… Bread: straightforward dinner rolls are fine, or you might incorporate rosemary or honey (not both, please, I don’t think). Salad: how about spinach, walnuts, balsamic, and pears, with optional blue cheese? This green-bean assemblage, with apple-cider vinegar, shallots, and more, sounds like heaven. Vegetable: roasted sweet potatoes or broccoli. Grain: wild rice with mushrooms. Main: pork tenderloin—especially if you go with the ACV/haricots verts/shallots salad above; they’d be great together. Of course, I defer to your judgment in rearranging whatever foods feel most restorative to the squad. Thanks for using your sensible, orderly strengths for good.
It’s your obligation to yourself to party down as best you can in the time you’ve got, regardless of any creeping onset of the mean reds. As such, let’s think of festive-feeling foods that, guess what, you can eat anytime you want, whether or not there’s a sport on television, or you have guests, or are hanging out on a regular Tuesday evening. I think that, whenever it occurs to you, it could be mood-ascending to eat jazzed-up jalapeño poppers or regular-degular pigs in a blanket, which are amazing as prepared just the way the Pillsbury can tells us to—to treat them like they’re quotidian as a chopped salad, hamburger, or plate of cacio e pepe. You can also venture outside of the hors d’oeuvres-tray mainstays and figure out new approaches to appetizing, like these fried bits of cauliflower, carrots, and cheese (SHOMP!), pierogi with brown butter, caramelized scallion dip with Ruffles (Lord of Chips), zengoula, and/or this eminently foxy Korean-barbecue monkey bread—like, WHAT is this gorgeous pull-apart loaf? Can I talk to its dad about my intentions, or what?
These are all best enjoyed near those whom you consider Earth’s best people, Libra. You always prefer company to solitude, and sharing is nearly preferable to breathing for you. Out of respect for one of your other traits—not… indecision, but a tendency to wish every option in front of you could become reality at once, somehow—I have a good idea. See how I listed twenty-seven or so ideas, just above? A good way to thrill yourself would be to have a small get-together (the number of guests depends entirely on your friends’ appetites) and eat the five recipes above that look most enticing to you while inventing a Calvinball-ish party game. (Some recent inventions from my house include such gaieties as “Petty Secret Santa” and “Gentlemen’s Disagreement,” the rules for both of which are really just suggestions.) People will be stoked—like, when was the last time any of us had jalapeño poppers? Even if it was last week, the time to close that gap is nigh.
Passionate Scorpio, I know you are doing the absolute most to figure out/display your support for others right now. But… just in case: it’s not socially relevant or helpful to anyone (except yourself) to make food from predominantly Muslim countries as a “gesture” or “as an homage” in reference to the recent increase in xenophobia against Islamic nations and their people in the United States. A more actionable and useful approach would be to spend money and tell friends about a local Muslim-owned restaurant or grocery store near you, or donate the amount you might have spent to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which advocates for the rights and well-being of Muslim Americans, if you don’t know of any such local businesses. Hell, donate to CAIR anyway! They need the support.
It’s fine if your food doesn’t faithfully represent your social beliefs right now. In fact, I would love for you to relax and make a few sandwiches—the only political perspectives that you’re on the hook for representing at lunchtime right now are “Donate to CAIR” (this one you can do in conversation with others as you eat your sandwich) and “Sandwiches rule.” Both are apt, for this present moment. Here are some great lunches to have important discussions about #NoBanNoWall over:
—Pimento-cheese sandwich with fried pickles and ranch dressing
—Panes con pavo
—Smoked-chicken-and-sun-dried-tomato sandwich with basil-olive pesto
—Panini with artichoke hearts, spinach and red peppers
As you peruse these, you can prepare for the “discussion” part of your meal by brushing up on just what makes the Muslim ban not only morally defunct but unconstitutional as well. Call your congresspeople with your mouths full of sandwich, babes!
Hi, arrow of my eye. This time of our time has felt slightly impossible, yeah? We have a worldview that tends to overlay everything we see with generative magic—like, we can fall in actual romantic love with the font on a hair-salon sign, the weather-themed costumes that the Jackson 5 wore in their 1971 Christmas special (I am literally tearing up looking at little Michael Jackson dressed as a sunny sky, how could anything be so beautiful?), or how Southern Americans articulate the “w” when they say the word “lawyer.” Law-yer. Those details are what we run on.
When we have trouble squaring up the majestic beauty by which we know the world with its uglier parts, of which we correctly cannot see a good side—the intentional degradation of the environment, the racism and religious bigotry determining hardship and fear as law, Steve Bannon’s serpiginous face—it can slacken us, and we can’t be numb or immobile right now. I recommend that you limit yourself to two hours of news, maximum, each day, and spend equal time reading it and acting on it: making calls, marching, organizing, donating.
After that depletion of your spirit, you will need to spend time with details that replenish your head and your body. Put on the Jackson 5 and find your version of intricate, sacral eating, like this one recommended by the writer Jenna Wortham in this helpful piece about the necessity of being kind to yourself: “I walked to a grocery store and bought one piece of every citrus that looked to be in season. I walked home with a perfect Meyer lemon, a tangelo, a cara cara orange, and a grapefruit. Over the next few days, I slowly peeled a piece of pretty fruit and ate it, or I sliced it and added it to a glass of water.” Make time to treasure every bit of the food that feels most special to you as you prepare and eat it—even better if it’s healthy. Still, I also find that the focused preparation of an elaborate meal is great for this—my favorites are ones that require constant attention and result in something spectacular, like béarnaise. Take time to identify beauty and eat it, too. Disallowing your soul to gray up is a small, integral aspect of action and dissent.
You dislike joining in with the initiatives of others, preferring, instead, to go your own way (the right way, you are sure). Therefore, you may be tempted to offer organized groups your twenty-two cents about how they might improve upon the steps they’ve taken thus far toward their stated goal, or tell someone that they should be sending something more nutritious than pizza to people in need instead, or withdraw support from a movement because they didn’t dare to think about how you might fit into it. (THE NERVE.) There are moments when your independence and contrarianism will serve you really well in this life, Capricorn, but this doesn’t feel like one of them. Instead of fracturing your role in how to support others and yourself right now, you kind of have to fall in line—or, at least, adapt these thoughts into actual service, like Uranus wants you to.
Okay, so you think your way of wording the petition is better? Use that language on your own Twitter account, but link to the place to sign anyway. Mad that you weren’t specifically thanked for your presence at the Women’s March? Well… that’s dumb—that’s not what showing up in support of a cause is about. If you really want to SEE? I’M A GOOD PERSON on this, keep marching in support of people who don’t look like you or believe exactly what you believe—and don’t ask that people recognize this stunning display of selflessness. Food-wise: If you want to add to the edible supplies people are donating to those who need it, just Seamless them what you think is “better,” if you can afford to do that, and then the recipients can choose themselves. Or send water.
Whether you have the resources or desire to make that kind of contribution to those who could use it, you can practice a more adaptable approach to life in your own meals as a kind of training for all your other interactions and thought progressions. Suggest that your friends decide the group-hang restaurant this month; eat nutritious foods you might usually dismiss because of what you presume they must taste like—like okra or kimchi, which are both outstanding; eat tasty (ew, tasty, worst word) foods you might avoid for reasons of nutrition, like steak and your Aquarius friends’ birthday cakes.
Being amenable to different ideas and habits than the ones you typically rely on is essential right now: you’ll have to be a little less strident about other people’s choices in order to work alongside them in the service of your firmest convictions. It’ll be worth it.