Quarantine, while unwanted and mundane in the way that it forced people indoors, gave people the time to self reflect and learn new skills.
One way students escaped boredom and saved money during quarantine was by cooking, and Arianna Jones, junior in education, credits both boredom and her grandma as the driving factors behind her newly acquired skill.
“I was bored,” Jones said. “I know how to follow a recipe really well, but I’ve always wanted to be like my grandma and her sisters, too. If you know older people … they never really look at recipes, so I’ve always wanted to be like that.”
With just an apple, a pear and some flour, Jones’ grandmother can whip up just about any pie, she said. Being able to cook with what you have in the pantry rather than shopping for recipe ingredients is a skill she wanted to learn over quarantine.
“I’m a big, ‘Well let’s go get it,’ type of person,” Jones said. “‘Let’s go to the store,’ type of person. If [my grandmother] is missing something, she knows how to replace it. That’s one thing that I really wanted to learn.”
For Jones, she wants to learn from the cooks in her family while she can — the earlier, the better. There’s not much that tastes better than home-cooked peach cobbler, she said.
“Our moms are getting up there, too … they’re not going to be able to stand in the kitchen for much longer and do all of those things,” Jones said. “You want to learn that for yourself. We’re about to graduate and start families, you don’t want to be calling your mom like, ‘Hey, can you cook dinner for my family,' you know?”
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Jones was on spring break with her friends when she got the email that the University would be closing, she said. From mid-March to late April, she barely left the house and watched a lot of TikTok.
“I got online, I looked the stuff up, and Publix actually sells the Sambazon acai packets,” Jones said. “I got on TikTok, again, figured out how to make a thick smoothie bowl … and I blended strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries together."
She got into a habit of making these bowls.
"I was making acai bowls after every workout," she said.
For Jones, cooking food was as much about saving money as it was a lifestyle change to eat healthier, better-tasting food.
For Andrew Yingst, sophomore in chemical engineering, spending time home last summer and fall motivated him to start cooking, especially as he started missing his mother’s home cooking and tried to cut specific foods out of his diet.
“I think the comparison of being on campus freshman year and just eating out a lot to going back [home] and having my mom’s home cooking made me realize that [food] is a lot better when you can make it at your house,” Yingst said.
Right now, East Asian food is his favorite to make, and so far, he’s made kimchi rice and a bok choy tofu soup. Yingst has always liked cooking simple things, but over the past two months, he’s started to cook most of what he eats at home, trying to tackle more and more difficult recipes.
“I’m kinda trying [everything], but I really want to get good at making stir-fry and things like that,” Yingst said. “I’m a very adventurous eater, and I’m trying to avoid restaurants because I’m more vulnerable [to COVID]. It’s been a mix of trying to cook some things like my mom cooks, some gluten-free options and some other things.”
While it was't quarantine that led him into the kitchen, he attributes his interest in cooking to the situations that COVID has put him in.
“There’s the influence of being back home, having home cooked meals and realizing how bad I had it freshman year,” Yingst said with a laugh. “I’m trying to avoid going out, as there are so many people not wearing masks at restaurants. Last semester, when all of my friends were back at college and I was just kinda stuck, I was like, ‘Okay, why not?’”
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