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Whisking Away Stress: The Therapeutic Art of Cooking and Baking

By Nthabiseng Mokonyane




Figure 1 Woman in Kitchen Cooking |Source: OnShot


Cooking and baking are more than culinary endeavours; they are rituals that engage our senses, evoke memories, and provide a creative outlet. In a world inundated with pre-packaged meals and fast-food options, the slow, intentional process of preparing a meal from scratch has become a counter-cultural statement, a rebellion against the tyranny of convenience.


One cannot underestimate the mental health benefits of spending time in the kitchen. As we chop, stir, and blend, we engage in mindfulness, focusing on the present moment and the task. The rhythmic motions of kneading dough or the precise measurements of ingredients require our full attention, creating a meditative experience that allows stress to melt away.

The kitchen is a canvas, and the ingredients are our palette. Experimenting with flavours, textures, and aromas transforms cooking into a creative endeavour. Whether it's crafting a delicate soufflé or simmering a hearty stew, each dish is an expression of individuality. The act of creation, even in the form of a humble loaf of bread, is a powerful reminder of our capacity to bring something new and beautiful into the world.


Figure 2 A Woman Tossing Unbaked Cookies | Source: Pavel Danilyuk

Beyond the personal benefits, cooking and baking have the magical ability to foster connections. Gathering around a table to share a meal is a timeless tradition that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. In a society that often values virtual relationships over tangible ones, the act of preparing and sharing a homemade meal becomes a genuine and authentic expression of care.

Yet, in celebrating the culinary arts, it's essential to acknowledge the challenges. The pressure to create Instagram-worthy dishes or adhere to complex recipes can sometimes overshadow the joy of the process. As with any art form, the key is to find a balance that suits one's lifestyle and preferences, turning the kitchen into a source of joy rather than a stress-inducing battleground.

And so, cooking and baking are more than daily chores or a means to an end. They are transformative experiences that nourish the body, mind, and soul. So, let's dust off those recipe books, embrace the therapeutic nature of the kitchen, and savour the simple joy of creating something delicious with our own two hands. In the midst of life's chaos, let the kitchen be our refuge, a place where the alchemy of ingredients transforms not just our meals, but our well-being.


Examples of Recipes:

1. Jam Tart Recipe

Ingredients

250g softened butter

1 cup sugar (preferably white)

2 large eggs

3 ½ cups of cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

Jam

Method

  • Start by whisking your butter, sugar, and eggs in a big bowl before adding your dry ingredients.

  •  After mixing everything, freeze half the dough.

  • Take the remaining half and roll it in a pan with anything that rolls.

  • Then, poke the dough with a fork.

  • Spread one cup of apricot jam, but it can be any jam.

  • Grate the other dough on top.

  • Bake for 20 – 30 minutes (180 degrees Celsius)

  1. Fried Cabbage

Ingredients

½ cabbage finely chopped

½ onion

½ green pepper

2 carrots grated

4 – 6 tbsp oil

Salt and spices

2 cubes

Method

  • In a pot or pan, combine your oil with your pepper, onion, and spices.

  • Fry everything until a bit golden.

  • Then, place your cabbage and mix everything well.

  • Make sure to stir to fry.

  • Remember not to burn your cabbage.

  • Fried cabbage is not always soft, so cook it to your liking.

  • You can serve it with anything, but it's always lovely with pap.

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