Continued gratitude for those who are holding the city down and lifting our spirits up. We appreciate you.

And just like that, we have arrived at the unofficial beginning of summer, Memorial Day weekend. The weekend where we fortify with bulk shopping, head out of town, gather together and so much more. Alas, the beaches are closed and there will be no barbequing in the park.

The one thing remaining the same is my birthday and this one says, “Girl, you are a half a century old!” That’s right folks, I am turning 50 in quarantine. While the original plan of springtime in Paris and going to the French Open is deferred, I am going to make my day as special as it can be while social distancing.

The message of this pandemic is not lost on me, nor is the irony of the season when it occurred on my milestone birthday. That message, “rebirth and change.” This pandemic is the brick wall that came after the whisper, the yell and the scream of Miss Mother Nature to treat her better and to not take her for granted.

Just with this brief (yes, brief) moment in time animals are reclaiming areas they once roamed, blue skies are returning to once smog filled cities, and people are connecting in more impactful ways. We, as a planet, are forever changed. Absorb that. Hold it. Rebirth it in a new way.

As you can tell, I have been processing, thinking with all the feels, not the least of which, all the death and human loss we have had in our community (RIP Dr. Julie Butler), our city, our state, our country and our world. It all feels like too much, but we continue to evolve.

(Beat. Breathe. Live.)

One of my favorite things born of this quarantine is all the cooking I see happening on social media and its star, the most searched and made, banana bread! Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you, “Kysha lives for some banana bread!” They will also tell you, “Kysha will eat anything banana and dark chocolate…anything!” They are not lying.

I was recently on a Zoom call with fellow University of Pennsylvania ’93 alum recounting our favorite memories. Of all the great times at PENN, the top of my list was of course food related. Check it! A double layer banana cake with cream cheese frosting and mini dark chocolate chips both in the middle frosting layer and on the outside. I used to eat one in the dining hall and sneak out one or two pieces for later. The memories…

I am grateful to every single person who got me to this point, to 50! I am looking forward to this next phase of “rebirth and change.” Peace be with you.

Stay safe, wear a mask, eat well and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!