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How I Cooked Up Something Fun During Quarantine

From sourdough loaves to birthday cakes to burbling lasagne and beyond, many people around the world unleashed their inner chef during their time in quarantine. Surely you have tuned in to social media at some point over the past eight months only to find that everyone has been trying their hand at a new recipe, all of which look irresistible. 

I am no stranger to cooking, or social media – or the intersection of both, for that matter. As an avid baker and someone looking to enter a career in the culinary world, I am familiar with using cooking as a hobby, a way to serve others, and as a creative outlet. With access to a kitchen, a family willing to try my culinary inventions, and time to kill, the mandated stay-at-home order was a blessing in disguise.

While cooped up inside and in need of comfort during an unprecedented experience, my mind began simmering with inspiration. It took me less than two weeks to run through 3 bags of flour. Before anyone could question the smells wafting through the house, they were met with a comforting and tasty treat. I would spend hours making eggplant parmesan, fresh and fluffy focaccia, homemade pasta, brownies, tahini cookies, tea cakes, olive oil loaves and my personal favorite, a frog bread. Yes, a bread shaped like a frog. 

The infamous Bread Frog, image courtesy of Instagram (@cookingupsomethingfun)

Every baker knows that one of the most important aspects of the recipe development process is time. When confined to one’s home, it seems that that’s all there is. At some points, I felt like a contestant on the Great British Bake-Off, living my life between the proofing stages of a recipe – and drinking lots of tea while doing so. I was careful not to interrupt conference calls or Zoom classes, and I would fire up the stand mixer whenever I had an excuse to. 

While the world outside the house was chaotic and unfamiliar, my family found consolation in the fact that we could lean on one another and share the simple pleasure of enjoying food cooked with love. My extended family was also able to tune in to my kitchen adventures by staying up-to-date with my food blog on Instagram. On @cookingupsomethingfun, I uploaded frequent recipe updates alongside some comedic content and messages of hope in the face of uncertainty. To this day, my little food blog is still living and breathing and growing into something I could have only dreamed of. In a way, the world’s unexpected “pause” in the Spring kickstarted a lot of conversations and material for me.

Now that I have been back at school for just over 2 months now, I sorely miss the days where I could let my mind and creativity wander in the kitchen. Before classes started, I had just been getting around to memorizing where all of our spices were in the cabinet and perfecting the proportions of the fluffiest homemade pizza crust. More than anything, the time I spent working with and around food over my time in quarantine solidified my desire to enter a career in food journalism and recipe development. The challenges, the discipline and the delicious rewards that came out of my baking frenzies were empowering. This time at home and in the kitchen helped me to expand my palate, my skills and my confidence when creating and executing recipe ideas.