• Emily Arden Design

Pandemic Cooking

Earlier today I heard sounds of a cooking show / virtual tutorial wafting out of my neighbor's open window. I had that thought, again. The one I often have had over these past few months: I will not come out of this pandemic a celebrated chef or food vlogger.


It seems like the thing we're supposed to do though, doesn't it?

With all of this time we have, and with all of the access we now have to chefs sharing their meals, and by default their homes. It looks like EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD has made sourdough or banana dough or whatever else kind of dough is trending right now.


The thought of staring at the screen for more time than I already need to in the Zoom work world, and watching someone else cook something I know I won't make half as well, or don't have the ingredients for, doesn't sound like my idea of self-care. It sounds like torture. And yet, I can't help but feel slightly distraught that I won't come out of this thing with a whole new skill set.


Don't get me wrong, I can cook OK. Sometimes I even enjoy it. And I love to throw together the occasional little cocktail or brunch party spread.


But up until recently, my idea of 'taking care of myself' - my idea of a meal I would eat by myself - would have included pizza or... [insert other emotional-eating food here].



Today, to my surprise, I walked into my kitchen and threw together a quick little vegan stir fry with ingredients I ALREADY HAD IN MY FRIDGE. I know, this won't seem like much of a revelation to many of you. But that fact that I reached in and pulled out some things that maybe go well together, and trusted myself enough to cook them, without fearing that anything less than perfection would be the result? This is a small miracle in my world.


It happened suddenly, unexpectedly, and not in relation to any real wish to change my cooking habits. It also happened on a day where I was otherwise feeling rather down on myself about the lack of exercise / healthy eating / 'right' kind of living I had been doing the past week or so. These waves of #quarantinefeels hit quickly, and sometimes pull me under. Today, perhaps thanks to the glorious sunshine that makes it difficult to stay down, and at the risk of extending this metaphor well beyond its shelf life, I surfaced confidently, feeling glowy and shiny, the way a good salt scrub should leave you feeling.



I also learned some things. Like, for instance, that adding purple carrots makes anything less vibrant turn a sickly shade of brown. (I'm looking at you, tofu).


This recipe won't end up in the NYT food section. Nor do I believe I will now become the kind of cook of my IG fantasies. What I do know, without a hint of doubt, is that this pandemic has changed me. And I'm here for it.


That's the thing, right? All of this time and suffering has to MEAN something. Doesn't it?


It has to mean that we don't go back to 'normal' after all of this - because there was so much wrong with the way things were.


So let's be better on the other side of this. Right?

I don't have answers, nor do I feel like I have any control to change things on a societal level. And yet, here I am, doing my little thing, noticing the micro-changes showing up in me. And that's akin to a butterfly effect, isn't it? Enough small acts, as self-indulgent as they may seem on the surface, adding up to something big and beautiful - enough positive chaos to upset our current setup. Maybe, if we take the best care of ourselves during this time, we will have the spirit and fortitude to take the best care of each other.


That's it. That's my optimistic musing for this #selfcaresaturday.


Thank you to Imperfect Produce and Thrive Market for making it easy(er) to stay in and cook spontaneously!*


Of course, it goes without saying (but I will anyways) that it's also fantastic to support our local restaurants, bars, and food shops by ordering takeout or pick up when + where you can! We need them, and they need us, now more than ever. <3


*This is not a sponsored endorsement, just my personal market delivery picks for SIP. I'd love to hear yours!

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