Calls for social distancing and community quarantines due to the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted our normal way of living. News of canceled events, travel bans, and closed restaurants are commonplace. Everyone is suddenly forced to stay and work at home to help in flattening the curve or decrease the rate of infection.
While necessary in preventing the failure of healthcare systems, the quarantine has left people to adjust their lifestyle and habits in the face of the pandemic. One such change is to be more self-sufficient and smarter in sourcing or cooking one’s own food. Meals now must be prepared or ordered in advance as deliveries try to keep up with demand in a challenging environment. Grocery runs are kept to a once a week frequency.
There’s no better time to learn how to cook and include a few dishes under your belt. Cooking, after all, is a necessary life skill with or without a pandemic. It is cheaper and healthier than relying on ordering food and dining out often. Make use of the high-end granite countertop in your kitchen and start your journey to be a home cook with these simple but healthy dishes.
1. Scrambled eggs or a fancy frittata
Eggs are your best friend as a beginner. It is a versatile, protein-rich and easy to cook food source. You can choose to have them as the main actor in dishes like omelets, frittatas, and quiches. On the other hand, they play great supporting roles in salads, sandwiches, and soups. The possibilities are endless with this nutrition powerhouse. Don’t be intimidated if you’re not able to avoid getting pieces of eggshells when cracking them open. You can always take those pieces out easily.
2. Chicken noodle soup
There’s nothing like a warm bowl of hearty chicken noodle soup to lift spirits up and boost your immune system. All you need is one pot of boiling water on the stove while throwing in your choice of noodles, cut chicken parts, the holy trinity of aromatics – onion, celery, and carrots, and any kind of vegetables that strikes your fancy. Adding chili flakes and fresh or dried herbs like rosemary and thyme can elevate the flavors even more.
3. Beef lettuce wraps
Translate your Korean drama addiction by making beef lettuce wraps. This dish is a staple in restaurant scenes where characters reveal twists or banter with their love interests. Traditionally, sliced beef is marinated with soy sauce, sugar, sesame, garlic, and green onion, then cooked over gas grills built into the dining table. However, you can create a similar experience with stir-frying thin slices of beef or even ground beef with the same marinade. You can scoop the cooked meat in fresh lettuce with some rice and added vegetable toppings and sauces.
4. One-pan baked salmon with roasted vegetables
If you have an oven, it is in your best interest to learn how to cook one-pan baked dishes. Preparation and clean up are easy to do especially if you grease your pan with vegetable oil or use aluminum foil. Surprise your family with a ‘fancy’ dish such as baked salmon with roasted vegetables. Apply a generous sauce of Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper on salmon fillets and chosen vegetables like green beans and potatoes. After around 15-20 minutes in the oven turned to 450 degrees, you’ll have a nutritious dish for dinner that can rival restaurants.
Cooking might seem intimidating and anxiety-inducing given the process of cutting, heating, and all those fancy terminology chefs use. Starting with simple dishes and slowly working yourself up to more complicated recipes can help you gain confidence in the kitchen.