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I would have never considered myself a cook before COVID happened. In fact, I still don’t, but I’m much better now than I was before. 

In high school and college, the extent of my cooking skills was putting frozen meals in a pan and reheating them on the stove. My only specialties were pancakes and mashed potatoes (not together of course, although that might make for a nice savory brunch.) 

After I left school I didn’t really have an interest in cooking, it just wasn’t on my radar as something that seemed like fun. But, right before COVID hit the U.S., I discovered the cooking side of YouTube. Mainly, Bon Appetit (before everything came to light and the channel stopped putting out videos for a while) and Binging With Babish. 

Now, if you know me, you know I love the idea of taking something from a film/tv show or other elements of pop culture and bringing it from the screen and into the real world. I adore Binging With Babish because of that. I’m very fortunate where I was given the BWB cookbook for Christmas that year, and since then I’ve been steadily cooking my way through the different recipes. 

The very first one I attempted was the Chef Special from Moonlight, which looked delicious and didn’t seem that difficult to make. I was wrong, because I made the rookie mistake of not prepping any of my ingredients beforehand, and not fully going through the recipe before beginning. I also learned cooking takes time. A lot of time. Like, I spent 3 hours cooking because I didn’t read and didn’t prep, “a lot”. 

However, I will say it taught me those two very important lessons, and they are mistakes I have yet to repeat. And the dish turned out fantastic. So fantastic that I make what are supposed to be the side dishes for it at least once a month and have it as the entree (even though the chicken was great the first time, I don’t always have the time to make the chicken aspect of it). 

Since then I’ve also tackled Carbonara with homemade pasta from Master of None (only once have I been able to achieve the perfect texture and not pasta with scrambled eggs) chicken paprikash from Captain America: Civil War (c’mon. It’s from a Marvel movie, there’s no way I WASN’T gonna at least attempt it) and the Bad Baby Quiche from Waitress, which is now a house favorite (and will give you great experience with the anxiety of blind baking a crust. Now you’ll know how all the Bake Off contestants feel!) and most recently, the pumpkin pie from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which was phenomenal. Even to those who aren’t usually pumpkin pie people, because it was spiced so perfectly. That’s all on the recipe, I had nothing to do with that!) 

Outside of the Babish Culinary Universe, I also fell into the trend of breadmaking, and highly recommend no-knead bread if you have a dutch oven (which I bought specifically for making said bread, but it’s still quite handy for other dishes.) 

While cooking might seem like a stressful (and expensive) hobby to take up, it’s also insanely rewarding. I can’t begin to describe the levels of joy I feel when someone else enjoys what I’ve made, and that I’m not just lying to myself that I’m a half-decent chef.  There’s also the reward that comes from attempting a challenging recipe, that dopamine hit you get when it turns out well- when it tastes delicious, and you made it all on your own

So while I’m not sure why it took COVID-19 forcing me to stay home that got me to start enjoying cooking, but I’m glad it did. Now I keep up with the Babish Culinary Universe (with Andrew and now Sohla!!) weekly, and each new video gives me something different to try (or to aspire to try) to help me relax during the week, knowing that I have a tasty reward waiting for me at the end of every recipe. 

Selected quote: “Anyone can cook!” 

By Hannah

Lover of all things geeky.

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