With restaurants becoming take-out only and operations and large gatherings being prohibited, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as grounds for a home-cooking revolution.
Despite many students being forced home as result of UNH closing their on-campus housing, many students still live in Durham in their off-campus apartments and have begun to improve their culinary skills. Students at home have been cooking too.
“Once I knew I was going to be at home for the next five months or so, I got right into it,” said Alyssa Doust, a sophomore student-athlete at UNH. Doust had never shown much interest in cooking, as she relied on the dining halls while at school and her parents cooking when she’s home. Having always been a proponent of healthy eating, Doust sees cooking as a great way to keep herself occupied in a healthy way rather than lounging around the house. Her cooking started with a Nutribullet, blending whatever fruits and veggies she had at home that day into smoothies. But that got boring.
Doust started noticing people posting recipes on social media, which made her even more eager to improve her cooking prowess. Marissa Massaro, a senior at UNH has always cooked for herself since she’s a vegan and has a fairly specific diet. She has posted some of her creations on social media, such as her signature buffalo cauliflower recipe. “I cook it a lot, but now I put more time into preparing it,” she said. Massaro is at home now and cooks a lot with her mom making vegan side dishes for family.
Doust has followed suit, posting pictures on her Instagram story of meals she makes for herself along with brief descriptions, so her friends can try it too if interested. “In this time of crisis especially a lot of people are on social media… the simple act of cooking spreads a positive vibe,” Doust said. “If I can influence at least one other person, or make someone’s day, that’s an achievement on my end.”
She said that she simply wants to inspire others to get in the kitchen since that’s partially what motivated her to cook more.
As for those who are still in Durham, the extra time has forced some home chefs to expand on their creativity. Bailey Schott, a senior at UNH has been cooking for himself all year. His menu consists of stir fries with veggies, beef, chicken or sausage and before the pandemic he would rarely waiver from his routine. He’s been watching cooking videos that show up on his Facebook feed, and he’s tried out a few. “I did a grilled cheese rollup. It didn’t come out like the video showed it, but it was pretty good,” said Schott.
Junior Peter Hunt was cooking only his dinners on a daily basis before the pandemic, but with the dining halls being closed he’s been forced to cook all of his meals. “Since everything started, I’ve been branching out a little bit and looking at new things to cook,” he said. Hunt uses his parents as a recipe reference point, making meals such as his dad’s signature mac and cheese and his mom’s chili. It’s also been a good way for him to stay in touch with his family while he’s away at school.
Zach Schneeloch was cooking four days per week before the pandemic, and now he’s cooking every day. His breakfast and lunch remain consistent; eggs in the morning, sandwiches and salads for lunch. He sees the pandemic as a chance to eat more healthy food as the temptation to eat out or at the dining hall is less prevalent.
“I would order out three or four days a week before the coronavirus and I haven’t ordered out since,” he said. While he doesn’t think his skills are improving, he’s definitely experimenting more in spanning away from his usual chicken and rice and delving into more complex meals such as the chicken Caesar salad he made a week into the pandemic.
Shaan DeJong, a fellow UNH senior has been cooking more than usual. DeJong, a very social person, sees eating as a great chance to spend time with friends, but the new pandemic rules have made that harder. “I used to eat out with my friends and now I’m supplementing that with small snacks,” he said. DeJong munches throughout the day eating things such as peanut butter on toast, pretzels and smoothies. DeJong also mentioned he’s eating more often with the free time. “All I have to do is sit around and eat food,” he said.