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For convenience, and excitement, in the home kitchen, turn to the plastic squeeze bottle

They produce perfect, otherwise unobtainable squiggles.

In these trying times, we do not judge what brings us comfort.

For me, it has been little plastic squeeze bottles.

You know, the ones that hold sticky condiments at restaurants that deploy moist towelettes. They are low-fuss and functional. They make funny noises. They produce perfect, otherwise unobtainable squiggles.

I ordered a dozen 8- and 12-ounce versions online a couple of weeks ago, and since they have arrived, it’s been one tiny burst of joy after another in my kitchen.

Hmm, what less-than-ideal Pyrex container am I going to store the simple syrup in this week? Oh, wait! Squeeze bottle!

This leftover homemade balsamic vinaigrette would really fare better not in this small bowl covered in plastic wrap. Squeeze bottle to the rescue!

I am pretty sure I made sriracha aioli recently just so I could transfer it to a squeeze bottle and go to town on a chicken-rice bowl.

These little bottles are an unexpected help in my kitchen right now, when the days blur into one long penetrating stare into the refrigerator. Is there anything in there that doesn’t require 20 minutes of preparation? Where did all the string cheese go?

Even though restaurants in Florida were allowed to reopen (with restrictions) on May 4, and the local takeout scene has flourished the past two months, preparing something in my own kitchen still feels like the least stressful way to feed myself.

But even for someone like me, who is used to cooking daily, it can feel relentless. It feels weird to say that I have never food-prepped so much in my life, but it’s true. During a busy work-from-home day, being able to pop into the fridge and grab a bunch of elements that can satiate quickly has been crucial.

The array of squeeze bottles is accompanied by a container of chili crisp, a riff on the Chinese condiment made of fried garlic, shallots and chili flakes steeped in canola oil that I prepped last week to make use of ready-to-go-bad shallots. There’s also plain Greek yogurt mixed with some freshly grated garlic and lemon juice, a flavorful dollop I add to breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Add to hard-boiled eggs, just a little runny in the very center.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve basically turned my kitchen into a quick-service bowl or salad spot, the kind of place I relied on for a fast, healthy-ish lunch before the coronavirus pandemic. That’s not a coincidence. Anything that brings a sense of normalcy and convenience into my kitchen is prized right now. Even something as simple as squirting a homemade condiment onto a hamburger.

Here are two quick, squeeze bottle-ready condiments you can prep now to get you through another week in the home kitchen. If you want to buy your own bottles, I recommend these 8-ounce ones, or even this 16-ounce pack. This trio is also nice, in case you are prone to lose lids.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Perhaps the best salad dressing I’ve ever made at home.

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 garlic clove, finely grated

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix red pepper flakes, garlic, vinegar, yogurt, oil, honey and salt in a pint-sized jar or squeeze bottle, then seal and shake vigorously until dressing is smooth and no lumps of yogurt remain, about 20 seconds. Store dressing for up to 5 days in the fridge shaking before each use.

Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit

Garlic Aioli

If you’re patient (and have someone who can help sturdy the bowl), this recipe is a cinch.

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, finely grated

Pinch of kosher salt

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine egg yolks, mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, add oil to egg mixture, starting with literally just a few drops.

Gradually increase amount to a fine steady stream, whisking the entire time and stopping if you notice any unincorporated oil in the bowl. Going really slow is key. Keep whisking until everything is combined and it resembles mayonnaise, then whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and season aioli with more salt if needed.

Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit

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