food

Cooking is Therapy You Can Eat

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Some of the saddest people I know have never chopped garlic.

This is a conclusion I reached after noticing the correlation between my friends who are always stressed out or in a bad mood and those who do not know how to cook a meal from scratch. I feel the desire to reach out to these people, like a priest to his parish, like Elton John to George Michael, like Madonna to Britney circa 2008. I know what they need and I know it can be put in at 180 degrees and left to simmer.

Cooking is the therapy that is far more pleasurable (and far less expensive) than sitting on a cream chaise-lounge for an hour whining to someone with a clipped tone of voice and pinstripe trousers (yes, the only experience I have of a therapist’s office is romantic comedies). It’s no secret that cooking is therapeutic – in the case of cookery shows, studies found that more than half of 2,000 people surveyed would rather watch a cooking show than cook a meal themselves. As much as I love cookery shows (Nigella and Bake Off are both not-so-secret addictions of mine), it simply cannot compare to the psychological massage of creating a dish myself to the soundtrack of Al Green and Corinne Bailey Rae.

If you think about it, the psychology of cooking’s therapeutic advantages is rather simple to dissect. First of all, we have to purchase the ingredients – we go into a shop with a list and a purpose. This cuts down time on wandering. Second is the preparation of ingredients – chopping, slicing, squeezing, grating – it’s all so sensory. Focusing on the motions and portions distracts us from worrying about other things we might ponder while waiting for a microwave to ping. Following instructions from a recipe is straightforward and logical, like being back at school but instead of following a maths equation, you’re saut√©eing red onions on a low heat.

Sometimes it involves marinating, sometimes proofing. But just as you’re at the end of your patience, it’s ready and you can smell it from here. It’s soft, it’s warm and it was you, it was all you. You might have f****d up at work the other day and forgotten to pay the rent on time, but you’ve made this delicious dish all by yourself and it tastes so much better than anything Deliveroo could’ve brought you.

So you see, this is why I am a cookery evangelist. Not in the way of health nuts or wellness gurus, telling you to use butter substitute instead of butter (for God’s sake), but because I know the feeling of making something that feeds you. It’s a symbol of your ability to survive. You can only go up from here. Get more adventurous in the kitchen and you’ll get more adventurous in work and life. Once you learn how to poach an egg properly, you’ll find that there’s very little you can’t do.

The Best Recipes to start off with:

The Best Scrambled Eggs Ever

Espresso Cocoa Banana Bread

Seriously Gorgeous Stuffed Aubergines

Brownies – always a good idea

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving Away to Uni – What You Need To Know

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Hashtag uni life is a lot harder when you’re hashtagging away from home.¬†Suddenly you have to cook for yourself, clean for yourself, take care of yourself and register at a medical centre yourself (this one I found particularly daunting). You also have to make sure you don’t accidentally die of malnourishment. Pot noodles every day suddenly don’t seem like such a good idea when you feel like a dried up old lemon in the fruit bowl of life. Not to mention the added stresses of a social life (or lack thereof). Moving somewhere you don’t know and having to tell people what course you’re doing approximately 4.2 million times a day can be exhausting. It’s even worse when you feel like a fish out of water, don’t fit in and just want to go home already.

My first term at university was definitely not a smooth transition. Some areas I excelled in – I had already cooked for myself in the past, and had been educated in delicious recipes by my dear mother since I was but wee. I was pretty healthy, actually, and smart about what I got at the supermarket. Sure, there was a month when I’m pretty sure I ate nothing but pasta, but even then I was cooking from scratch.

But while I triumphed in one area, it was only inevitable that I was to tumble in another – social life. For my first couple of months at university, I struggled to find my “people”. Freshers week seemed to consist of tolerating conversation I found desperately boring but nodded along enthusiastically to appease people. I encountered the charming breed of Fresher Boys, eager to dry-hump anything and everyone in their field of vision. My first night out was somewhat traumatic – I ended up getting pretty drunk at the preswall (pre-drinks for non-Irish) and getting in a taxi and then forgetting the address of my accomodation (drunken tears ensued). My flatmates were nice people, but we didn’t “click” like a lot of people do. This is pretty common, as I’ll discover later on, but at the time I felt pretty crappy, and wondered why I wasn’t having the time of my life, like everyone said I was supposed to.

Well, here’s the little secret of #unilife: everybody is having a tough time. Swap friend problems for boy issues, money trouble for homesickness. Everyone has their own struggles, and you’re not alone in having a hard time. Pictures on Facebook can be deceiving – I’ve been to the most boring, depressing parties with the most boring people, but the pictures on Facebook the day afterwards tell a whole different story – fake smiles, fake friends, fake fun. The Facebook Farce.

Here’s another secret: it gets better. As cheesy and trite as it sounds, you will find a place you belong. My best tip is to join societies and clubs. I found my place in the drama society and it was the best thing that could have happened. Suddenly I was meeting like-minded people who I “clicked” with, was having fun and keeping busy. Now that I’m in my second year, living with brilliant people, having found my place, I couldn’t be happier.

So after aquiring much wisdom over the past year and a half, here’s what you need to know about uni:

1. A hot water bottle is your best friend.
2. But also try and meet people so you can get a human best friend.
3. You will find out the downsides of eating nothing but pasta very, very soon.
4. Keep a note of your address in your phone or on a piece of paper and keep it in your going-out bag
5. Don’t feel pressured to do anything, with anyone, at any time. Your body belongs to you.
6. Soups are a great cure for Fresher’s Flu. Here are some great recipes
7. When making friends, the generic questions can seem boring, but if they’re cool people, the conversation will take a turn for the better.
8. Join as many clubs and societies as you can, take advantage of any uni opportunities that come up..
9. Get a diary to keep on top of your workload (it will pile up on you so fast it’ll scare you senseless).
10. When in real trouble, call your ma and da. You’re not too old for that yet.

But most importantly, make the most of your time at university. You’ll only experience it once.

(Unless you decide to do it again. Then it’s not just the one experience. It’s the two. It’ll be twice.)