Cooking, creativity & coronavirus


Cooking, creativity & coronavirus

By Jane Clarke

May 03, 2020

The change in our lives in the past few weeks is almost incomprehensible. My daughter Maya and I are hunkered down in Rutland with our dog Loukuomi, who rather like the meme featuring the dog who won’t come down off the cupboard as it’s fed up with walking, looks at Maya every morning wondering where on earth they will trek to next. Surely they’ve explored every square centimetre outside by now! The countryside is looking more beautiful than I can remember, with the blossom trees and lilac in flower, the beech trees in full glory, and new calves in the field next to us. Appreciating these small moments of joy seems more important than ever at this difficult time.

Like many of you, I am juggling work with worrying about elderly parents and trying to keep a teenager who should be out exploring and enjoying life entertained at home. Days rush by yet seem to last forever – an experience that may be new for many of us dealing with the social distancing and isolation caused by Covid-19 but will be familiar for those already living with a health condition that has impacted their ability to work, socialise or spend time outside.

When life is restricted – either by existing illness or the current threat of it – finding ways to punctuate and brighten the days is crucial. In my years working with patients, I’ve seen that those who have been able to engage with an interest or passion for even a few minutes – whether that’s listening to music, enjoying a meal, talking with family, or spending time in nature – have a greater sense of wellbeing. When we feel happier or emotionally settled, we have more energy and eat and sleep better.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that during this time together at home, Maya and I are most often to be found in the kitchen! Ever since Nourish chef Andreas taught Maya to cook for her GCSE last year, Maya has loved getting creative with ingredients. She particularly likes cooking Indian dishes and making extra portions of her homemade naan breads to give to our neighbours. In my experience, Indian food is one of the best cuisines to titillate a jaded palette, so it’s ideal for anyone recovering from Covid-19 who has found their sense of taste affected by the virus. It’s also easy to find Indian recipes that can be made easily with inexpensive store cupboard staples such as lentils and chickpeas, root vegetables and frozen spinach, so it’s one of the easiest lockdown menus to enjoy.

Here are some other ways we’re adding some pleasure and purpose to our daily routine right now. We’d love you to tell us your ideas. Share them with us on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages, or email them to us at

Rediscover recipe books It’s easy to rely on tried-and-trusted favourites but I’m enjoying flipping through my books and finding new meals to try.

Write a menu Meal planning doesn’t just make grocery shopping easier and more economical, which is more important than ever at the moment. It also means you have the pleasure of anticipating what’s for dinner.

Set the table It doesn’t have to be fancy but a few flowers in a glass on the table, or a pretty tablecloth, can make another meal at the kitchen table seem special.

Surprise each other Take it in turns to cook a meal and don’t reveal what’s on the menu until it’s time to serve up. Or you could surprise yourself by trying an ingredient you’ve never had before. Wondered what the all the fuss is about jackfruit? Now’s the time to add a tin to your shopping list and give it a try.

Eat outside If the weather is good enough and you have access to some outside space, try taking your meal outdoors. A salad or a sandwich eaten in the fresh air and sunshine will awaken your appetite like nothing else.

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