Cooking up a storm to stay calm

With all the time I have had on my hands over recent months, one of the things I have been doing to keep busy is cooking more than I ever have before in my entire life. The aroma of cooking and baking now emanates from our home on a daily basis.

Although I cooked regularly before the coronavirus pandemic, I did not generally prepare anything overly elaborate. These days though, rather than sticking with my old, simple standbys, I have instead been trying new recipes that are way out of my comfort zone.

It is as if someone else channeled themselves into my body and made me a better — or at least more adventurous — cook. Since some days lately have been slightly boring, I am trying to at least keep a variety in my meal planning, so as not to make dinnertime boring too.

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As I am taking recommendations seriously from our city’s medical officer of health to grocery shop only once per week at most, I have been paying more attention to what I buy than I used to. Never before has my pantry been so well-stocked. Whereas before the COVID-19 outbreak, I would be excited if I was equipped for even two or three nights’ worth of dinner, these days, once I unload the groceries, I can barely close my freezer.

While all of this cooking and meal preparation has resulted in my having to do more dishes than I ever thought possible, as well as much more expensive grocery bills, there have also been some positives that have come out of it.

cooking by andrea
COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF: Writer’s cooking efforts have impressed her mate.

After I get home and give each item I purchased a good wipe with an alcohol-based cleanser, I notice a sense of relief and calm washing over me, especially after I have gone somewhere where other shoppers have not properly practised social distancing. Knowing I have enough groceries so that I won’t have to relive the experience again for at least another week gives me great satisfaction.

Being cooped up at home for weeks on end can wear on the best of us, but I have been finding cooking to be therapeutic. In fact, it has proven to be a useful coping mechanism in a time where we are facing so much uncertainty about the future. Not to mention that cooking — as well as eating — gives me something to do and to look forward to.

Although some of my culinary experiments have not turned out as well as I had hoped, the majority of them have been met with compliments to the chef from my husband.

It has been fun to trade recipe ideas with friends and family members. Proudly showing each other what we made on FaceTime chats has been yet another way of keeping us connected during the isolation.

Sharing pictures of the meals that don’t quite work out as well as expected or that just appear unappetizing have been especially good for a laugh, something all of us could use right now.

treats from andrea
HOMEMADE: Culinary treats are also on the menu now.

The COVID-19 crisis has taught me some valuable lessons, including the importance of being organized when it comes to meal planning. When this is all over, I hope to keep up with my new grocery shopping and cooking habits.

I can’t promise that every single one of the meals I prepare for the duration of the state of emergency will be what one might consider restaurant quality but that doesn’t really matter.

Feeding our souls, minds and creativity are more important right now, and are just some of the many ways that can help us get through this challenging time in our lives.

On that note, I’ve got to go get dinner started.