How to Overcome Cooking Fatigue
Article after article is talking about the increase in home cooking during Covid-19. For some, this has been a wonderful opportunity to try out a long list of recipes bookmarked in your browser and saved on social media. For others, the task of cooking has been daunting.
Food is a universal pleasure. The tastes, smells, and experience surrounding food drive humans (and have for thousands of years) to create new methods, use new ingredients, and continue to learn and experiment with food. However, modern life has spoiled us with food made fast and conveniently, by others. Enter, Covid-19.
Now, the joy or the resolve to cook has worn off for many due to boredom. Research is showing with people grocery shopping less, they are making the same meals over and over which is making meals boring. This is resulting in what is being called cooking fatigue.
If you are experiencing cooking fatigue, here are some tips to get you out of the rut and back to being a home cook worthy of your own social media channel.
Buy fresh produce in bulk and freeze for later
Stock up on fresh produce and blanche and freeze for later use. Great vegetables for blanching include everything you would normally buy in the frozen vegetable section. Corn, greens, broccoli, green beans, and brussels sprouts. You can also buy fresh fruit, wash, pat dry, and freeze for later use in muffins, syrups, smoothies, cakes, lassi, and more.
Yes, you Can
O.K., we know canning supplies are tight right now, but canning can be a great way to use up produce and save your favorites for later. Start with simple soups, sauces, and jams. And you don't need a pressure canner. A large pot and tongs are all you need along with your mason jar, rings, and lids.
As the seasons change, local produce shifts. Here in Pennsylvania, we will see the last of tomatoes this month, but next month we will see more fall crops like hard squash, collard greens, lettuce, brussels sprouts, and beets. If you plan on eating with the season, you can start to be more creative. This month calls for stewed okra and tomatoes, bruschetta, tomato gazpacho soup, pizza, wild rice stuffed in roasted tomatoes, roasted potatoes with tomatoes and leeks served on a bed of quinoa or kamut. Pick fresh parsley for tabbouleh and wow your family with a focaccia with cherry tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and sweet onion slivers.
Fermented foods and pickling
Another fun way to incorporate new foods that will also spice up your meals for months in advance is to ferment kimchi, make homemade fermented sauerkraut, pickle cucumbers, beets, carrots, and green beans. Get wild with your flavors to give yourself variety.
Take advantage of endless cooking demos, classes, and shows
Social media + Covid has brought cooks and home cooks a little bit closer. Want to learn how to make a zucchini ricotta tart or gnocchi, take notes from Elizabeth Minchilli and her daughter, Sophie Minchilli or Rosetta Constantino who live in Italy. Join an Air B&B cooking class. Follow Samin Nosart's Home Cooking podcast or watch her yummy Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat to peek your travel and food curiosities.
Facetime friends and recipe swap
Create a Facetime event with friends who are looking to recipe swap. Provide each other with shopping lists and recipes and take turns cooking together online.
Research and Record
This is a time like no other and you will want to document it. Start a journal of foods you are buying and recipes you've discovered. Start to document what your family has loved and asked for you not to repeat. Write down funny tales at the dining room table, farmers you met, and what you learned about cooking.
If you want to take it even further, take one vegetable, fruit, or grain a week, research its history, where in the world it originates from, and how other countries prepare that ingredient.
Congrats! You've just created a family heirloom and are a family historian.
Create a gratitude list
Write or say a gratitude list for all the people that have helped you bring food to the table. From the seed saver to the farmer who planted and tended to the plant, from the picker to the packer, from the driver to the market staff, from the sun to all the microbes that helped your food get to you. This can create an endless wave of appreciation for each meal.
If you have children, get them involved in creating poems, posters, place mats for each meal, and other ways to have gratitude for what they are eating (even if they aren't into brussels sprouts yet).
It's really important to use all the tools at your disposal and put on a brave front and try new foods and new ingredients. Potatoes can be made over one hundred ways if you are brave enough to experiment. The seeds you plant today can create tasty experiences in the future and teach your children important skills as they grow up.