"The kitchen has become my little bubble and preparing for the next family meal has become my anchor."Zoe Swanwick for Varsity

Content Note: This article contains a brief mention of coronavirus and lockdown.

Mum just impulse bought four more lavender plants for the garden. My aunt just completed her third YouTube workout of the day. Dad has just worked out how to turn on the first laptop he’s owned in a decade. My brother is still sleeping. After all, it’s only just gone noon.

What am I doing? Checking my sourdough starter to make sure it’s still alive. It reminds me of my 9 year-old obsession with Tamagotchi. I refuse to fail this little bacterial baby like I’ve failed my dying Aloe Vera which I bought in second year, so I check it every few hours for signs of life and make sure it’s always well fed and watered. Severely lacking anything to do (apart from my Year Abroad Project…), I’m making the most of having to cook for five of us in the house - or six if you include the dog.

“Cooking is my way of showing affection for those I love the most.”

I’ve always been a keen cook and ever since I can remember, my ‘style’ has brought with it a pinch of chaotic energy. In other words, things don’t always go to plan. During sixth form, my friend and I found an excellent recipe for chocolate chip cookies (you’ll never guess the secret ingredient!) and we often looked for ways to pimp them out a little, adding whatever we could find in the cupboard that took our fancy. This usually led to distraction: two batches came out incredibly salty to the dismay of our little group of friends whom we used as taste-testers.

At least now, when I’m using butter in a recipe, I always double-check that it’s unsalted. While the end product is never flawless, one thing that has remained constant is my love for afternoons spent trying new recipes in the kitchen.

Living in college for the last two years has somewhat stifled my cooking creativity due to lack of equipment (like an oven), ingredients, kitchen space and, quite frankly, the energy. No one feels like spending two or more hours in a poorly-lit, crammed college kitchen. Yet now that I find myself home again with not much else to do except plan my strategy for finding eggs and flour for the week, why not tackle the complicated task of bread baking?

“This lockdown has reminded me that cooking is a wonderful form of creativity and escapism.”

In the process I have succeeded in convincing my family that it’s time we started composting (small eco win!). So, my aunt and I spent a few days sawing up the banister and old palettes to build a bin in the garden. Another advantage of having my aunt living with us for the time being is that her loyalty to following the recipes step-by-step means that I have seen a marked improvement in all our cooking and baking. Who knew accuracy was the key to a successful fondant?!

Despite Mum’s constant moaning about a slightly messy kitchen, lack of eggs, and lots of apparently “unhealthy” bakes, three meals a day has become a very reassuring and stable weekly feature for us all whilst we live in these unprecedented times.


Mountain View

Keeping active, indoors

After the fourth Sunday Brunch, it’s become a tradition and every week we are upping our game. This Sunday? I’m giving waffles a whirl. The kitchen has become my little bubble and preparing the next family meal has become my anchor.

The lockdown has reminded me that cooking is a wonderful form of creativity and escapism. And, in the end, it’s my way of showing affection for those I love the most.