Keep Cooking and Carry On

Artwork: Maddy Brown

Being cooped up inside can make the best of us stir-crazy. After isolating for days on end, binge-watching movies and TV shows has most likely lost its appeal. The chances are you’re looking for some at-home entertainment to spice up your day. Well it’s time for you to step into the kitchen and become the MasterChef you’ve always dreamed of being.

It’s highly likely that you got caught up in the crazed supermarket rush. Now your cupboards are stock piled with shelf-stable goods and the freezer is filled with food to last you weeks. However, the last thing you want is to feel bored by the same pantry meals. Take these moments of self-isolation as a gift to spend hours in the kitchen, experimenting with exotic ingredients or testing out new recipes. Not only could you discover your hidden talent for cooking, but it’s a great way to help pass the time.

Baking has also been proven to be good for our mental health. It helps you forget your worries, as you enter into a world of focus. On top of this, there’s the satisfaction you get from creating something, which greatly lifts your mood and is something you can share with others.

There are so many wonderful meals you can make from the kitchen pantry. And if you don’t have certain ingredients, there’s no need to despair:

No eggs? Try using mashed bananas, chia or flax seeds, or applesauce.

No flour? Try making oat flour by blending up rolled or quick oats.

No rice? Try experimenting with freekeh or barley.

No breadcrumbs? Try replacing with crushed cornflakes or make your own using stale bread.

Whilst it’s a scary and confusing time for all, you and your loved ones still need to eat. It’s important that we continue to nourish our stomachs, minds and hearts. Food may not be able to cure the ailments of today or tomorrow, but stepping into the kitchen is the first step towards looking after yourself! Here’s a cheeky recipe that might help you to do so:

Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Ingredients

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped

1 large egg, beaten

Flaky sea salt

Method

Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until super light and fluffy, 3–5 minutes.

Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and beat to blend.

Divide dough in half, then place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form dough into a log shape. Each half should form logs that are 5-6cm in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush outside of logs with egg wash.

Slice each log into 1.5cm thick rounds. Ar- range on prepared baking sheet about 3cm apart. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake cookies until edges are just beginning to brown, 12– 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

Bon appetit!