Kitchen fatigue: Here’s how to beat pandemic weariness and spice up your meals

Chanterelle mushrooms, basil, pasta and fresh parmesan: it’s a great time to turn for some seasonal comfort photo. (Alex Wilkie/Submitted by Andie Bulman)

The early days of this pandemic were terrifying. I spent the first week glued to my screen. I watched every news conference, obsessed over case numbers and signed up for three different streaming services.

Through my social media feeds, I could see that friends and family were doing the same, but gradually things changed.

Fear was replaced with sourdough, banana bread and pitch-perfect flaky pie crust. Anxiety was channelled into impressive kitchen projects. The kitchen became a source of joy.

Well, that has passed.

Most people are back to making the same five dishes on rotation and trying to pass off cleanup duty to their roommates and partners.

We can do better. Here are my tips for fighting kitchen fatigue during a pandemic:

Use an old tool in a new way

Use a tool that’s been gathering dust, or use an everyday tool in a new way. I use my box grater daily for cheese or lemon zest, but I never grate horseradish and I never grate ginger. This week I’m going to make a horseradish mayo and those tiny holes are going to transform the rhizomes of my ginger into a beautiful paste for a cake recipe that I plan to take to the next level. You can use the box grater to make carrot latkes and potato boxtys. There’s so much potential in each kitchen tool.

Turn to comfort foods

A chill in the air is coming, which means we can put a ban on the herb-laced quinoa salads of summers. Now is not the time for heath and wellness, it’s the season of long-simmering stews, homemade apple butter and from-scratch macaroni and cheese. Embrace the foods that bring you warmth.

My personal favourite comfort food is a rich ginger cake. A pulpy mystery novel, a hot cup of tea and a big slice of this cake are my ideal rainy-day fall combination. 

Ginger cake is good at any time of the year, but especially on rainy autumn days with a good book. (Alex Wilkie/Submitted by Andie Bulman)

Get inspired with cookbooks & online resources

Most libraries are now offering pick-up and drop-off services. Spend an hour or two perusing through a collection of cookbooks — but don’t just check a book out! Commit to creating at least two recipes contained within the tome.

I just borrowed Magnuss Neilson’s Nordic Cooking (Phaidon Press, 2015). Admittedly, I’m not going to make his recipe for puffin soup (very frowned upon and illegal here in Newfoundland), but I am going to challenge myself to break out of my rut and recreate two whole recipes.

Play with a newtoyou flavour

If new cookbooks and old equipment can’t bust you out of the depths of kitchen fatigue, try playing with a new flavour. How about bakeapples? A rare yellow berry found in the bogs and barrens

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