8 Apr 2020

Covid-19 lockdown: Home cooking adds flavour and frustration

7:42 pm on 8 April 2020

Being cooped up at home is forcing New Zealanders back into the kitchen and while it's a silver lining for some, others are pining for takeout.

16738591 - hand adding salt using  salt shaker on bright background

Photo: 123RF

Whereas once upon a time - say, only two weeks ago - many of us relied on cafes, restaurants and takeout to survive, the showy social media posts now say it all: freshly made sourdough, fancy roasts and luscious cakes are flowing from our ovens like never before.

New Zealanders are evidently lapping up extra time at home to cook. But while some are discovering for the first time or rekindling an old passion for cooking, for others the struggle to get their daily nutritional requirements when left to their own devices is very real indeed.

 Jacquie Walters in her kitchen

Jacquie Walters in her kitchen Photo: Supplied

Jacquie Walters from Nelson is a self-described "basic" cook who used to eat most of her meals out.

"I really enjoy supporting our local cafes ... and dinner was survival cooking for the kids and I."

With all cafes, restaurants and takeaways now shut, Walters has discovered she actually likes all this cooking malarkey, and her family has discovered some unusual dishes.

"Roast radishes are a thing, which I didn't know. We actually baked radishes and they were really good."

Keeping to a low-carb diet, they've also been whipping up almond flour pizzas and cheese scones.

"My kids, who are 12 and 13, have said to me that one of the highlights of lock down is my cooking. I feel quite proud."

More time at home has allowed Hawke's Bay-based landscape designer Tim Durrant to reconnect with his love of cooking.

"I've always been keen on cooking but we didn't really have the time."

With nothing but time now up his sleeve he's also getting others involved.

Tim Durrant

Tim Durrant Photo: Supplied

"It's meant I can make fresh pasta with the children."

Shortages of key ingredients like yeast have also forced him to get creative, after his three-year-old used the last of their supply to make a mud pie.

"It quickly had me researching how to make a yeast bug out of the bottom of a beer bottle," he said.

That hopeful experiment is still fermenting on the kitchen table.

Not everyone is enjoying the daily kitchen duties and for some the lockdown has brought home a kind of culinary hell.

Auckland law lecturer Akshaya Kamalnath hates to cook and usually lives on takeout.

She has tried but failed to get on the cooking bandwagon, so has resigned herself to surviving on the basics for as long as the lockdown remains.

"I did instant noodles for a while but got sick of that so now I make rice, sausages and one attempt at a chicken curry. It was okay ... but once things are back to normal I'll be going for takeouts again."

Bradley Cato prepares his signature dish - spaghetti carrot.

Bradley Cato prepares his signature dish - spaghetti carrot. Photo: Supplied

Wellington lawyer Bradley Cato is in a similar boat but is surviving only thanks to his partner Lucy, who is in his bubble and loves to cook.

"I don't have a diverse range of recipes. There's really only one and that's spaghetti carrot."

The concept may strain the imagination somewhat. Cato explains:

"It's very easy to prepare but highly nutritious. It just involves a can of spaghetti, you tip it into a bowl, chop a carrot in half and mix it in with the spaghetti.

"I have offered to provide that meal but it hasn't been take up yet."

Delicious. Any takers?

With two more weeks of Level Four lockdown to go, there's still time for those budding cooks to improve their skills and even show them off on social media.

One questions whether spaghetti carrot would get many likes.