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On Election Day, Make Something Really Messy and Elaborate

You can’t doomscroll if your hands are covered in flour

Making dough by hands on a wooden table
You’ll only ruin your phone if you try to check it
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

The thing about elections is there is only so much you can do about them. You can vote, you can phone bank, you can remind everyone you know that the vast majority of Americans support trans rights and abortion rights. And then, you can basically wait. Polls don’t close until 8 p.m. on the West Coast, and official counts can take hours, days, even weeks depending on how close the race is.

Waiting is hard, and many of us may find a way to soothe the anxiety of not knowing is to scroll through the news and social media for any semblance of an update. This, as you may be aware, is a terrible idea. So to save your sanity, may we suggest cooking something extraordinarily time consuming, elaborate, and labor intensive so you do not have the time, nor sometimes the ability, to check your phone.

The best recipes for this, I’ve found, are anything that has you elbow-deep in flour or having to do a bunch of repetitive motions. Homemade, eggy pasta is a great option, especially if you’re kneading it by hand. Wontons are also great if you can get you and your family in an assembly line, your fingers so coated in filling that your phone will not recognize your fingerprint. Bread, biscuits, samosas, fried chicken, a whole cake with a mirror glaze, these are all great options.

Anxiety is about control. When I constantly refresh Twitter on Election Night, what I’m telling myself is that by having the most information, I will be prepared for any outcome. I will not be shocked or scared. I will be in control. There are of course many problems here. Social media is not a great source of accurate information. But also, you knowing who is ahead in a county in Pennsylvania when 21 percent of the votes are in has no bearing on who actually wins. It’s a false sense of security, that too often sends one into even more of a panic.

What you do have control over is dough, or sauce, or a rack of lamb. This is something you can do, right now, to nourish yourself and, if you decide to make four loaves of bread, your community. The votes are in, and the fight will continue, whatever the outcome is. Release yourself momentarily from the scorekeeping and analysis, and just cook.