So today, I am here with a cooking post highlighting some fun cooking tips and tricks to utilize during quarantine. My fiancé and I, like so many others, are working on expanding our cooking skills during this time at home. I am by no means a chef and honestly think I am much less knowledgeable about food than I am about crafts. Regardless, I wanted to share some quick and easy things that I am doing which are making cooking more enjoyable, especially when home cooking has become a necessity as of late.
1. Use something pre-existing as the base for your culinary masterpiece. I know that everyone and their mother is trying to do crazy things like make sourdough from scratch, but you don't always have to start from the ground up to make something yummy. My strongest example here is ramen. I am a huge fan of instant ramen and will gladly eat it uncooked (don’t judge me) or cooked according to the package instructions with just water and that sodium-laded packet of chicken flavor. Obviously, when I just say ramen I am talking about chicken-flavored ramen because that is the only one that counts. Don’t you dare fight me on this. Although I will eat ramen the “normal” way, I have found that it is such an easy canvas to add things to that can take it from a late night snack to a full-on meal that satisfies you and makes you forget about the copious amount of sodium you are consuming. I also do know that both instant ramen and the ramen creations that I have made are an abomination compared to real, traditional ramen so don't give me your sass about that. Same goes for oatmeal. You can use either instant oatmeal packets or some oat-fashioned oats which are honestly just as simple to cook and have 8000% less sugar. Throw some chia seeds and a banana on there and you've taken your oatmeal from edible wallpaper paste to healthy(ish) breakfast. Here is a recent bowl of ramen which I leveled up with a medium-boiled egg, some toasted cashews, peas and caramelized (and slightly burnt) onions.
2. Plating makes a big difference. I think that especially given the lack of options for sit-down dining anymore, we are all missing that special feeling that you get when your food just looks pretty as hell. Plating something up nicely takes maybe 3 more minutes of your time and makes you feel like a fancy lady or gentleman (gentlehuman? why isnt that a word we use?) when consuming it. Also take pictures of the food to document the fanciness. I know that taking pictures of your food seems a bit "extra" but honestly we need to all focus on simple pleasures right now and if taking a picture of your food does that, then freaking go for it. Below are some meals I tried to plate up a little nicer than I usually would have. One the left is some maple kielbasa with potatoes and peas and on the right is a salad that I made look awful pretty.
3. Try something new. This goes for both the food you are eating and the way you are preparing it. If you had asked me 6 months ago how I wanted my eggs cooked, I would have said scrambled or over-hard with absolutely no runny yolk in sight. Squishy yolks were the enemy. However, lately I have been trying things again that I decided I didn't like years ago to see if my opinions have changed. I have also been trying to change up the recipes that I am making and the ingredients I am using. I subscribe to a UK-based cooking channel on YouTube called SortedFood and they have an app which guides you through recipes. They aren't paying me to tell you they are good, I just like them :) Anyways, I have been using this app as well as cookbooks I have bought and then proceeded to never open to try out recipes that I would have assumed were too hard or that we wouldn't like. I have been encouraged to try out styles of cooking that I wouldn't have been comfortable with before and have bought things that never used to be part of typical grocery list but I now really enjoy. Below is my first attempt at Chicken Kiev which is a recipe that I might have looked at a few months ago and thought was too hard.
And as a bonus tip, always put salt on your chocolate chip cookies. Just do it. That is all.
What tips and tricks are you all using to up your cooking game in quarantine?
I am a 23-year-old crafter and baker from New Hampshire!