This is the second installment in CapRadio’s “Isolated Together” series. Listen to the audio, above, to hear how the people in this story captured the sounds of their kitchens while sheltering-in-place. Learn how you can participate in the project at CapRadio.org/IsolatedTogether.
With my phone propped against a teapot in my kitchen, I logged on to Instagram Live — ready to whip up a dinner for one, cooked virtually with hundreds of others.
Sacramento chef Byron Hughes has been hosting the weekly cooking show on Instagram called “The Cook In.” Each episode, he walks through a new dish — from sous vide chicken and dumplings to crispy salmon with charred broccoli. For about $15, viewers can pick up a kit with all the ingredients they’ll need to cook along with the live stream.
“People are at home, they’re bored and they’ve ordered takeout seven times this week,” Hughes said. “So, they want to cook — and they want to cook things they don’t normally make.”
When California’s stay-at-home order first went into effect, he says friends started asking him for tips in the kitchen. Suddenly, a small question would turn into a 30 minute video chat, “enjoying each other through food,” he said.
Now, “The Cook In” allows him to share that same experience with hundreds of viewers every week.
Even during stay-at-home orders, cooking is as much about staying connected as it is about enjoying a delicious meal.
“There [are] ways to accomplish that social component that dining gives us,” said local chef Byron Hughes. “And just because we’re not able to reach out and touch each other physically right now, we’re still finding ways … to do that.”
And it’s not just professionals forging those connections in the kitchen.
Some turned to cooking as a necessity during isolation.
When Brenda Jew Waters was diagnosed with diabetes in February, she hired a chef to prepare her meals. But when stay-at-home orders went into effect, the chef could no longer come to her home. So she began cooking more, exploring dishes that fit with her new dietary restrictions.
Chicken curry korma is one of her go-to meals. She got the recipe from a cookbook bought from the UC Davis bookstore over 30 years ago.
The secret, she says, is getting the right blend of seasoning — including cumin, cardamom, black mustard seed and turmeric — and marinating the chicken in nonfat Greek yogurt overnight.
A helping hand from her husband is always welcome in the kitchen, too.
For Bella Dalton, who posted her homemade tomato focaccia bread on the Nextdoor, cooking offers a measure of order — when everyday life has been turned upside-down.
“Cooking for me is really important during these times because it's a way to de-stress,” she said. “It provides a level of consistency to a time where there's a lot of inconsistent things.”
Madeleine Jen Kin of Tahoe Park is the daughter of a chef, so she’s well-versed in the kitchen. But she had never tried baking. It always seemed so time consuming.
Now that isolation orders are in effect, all she has is time.
Kin has been experimenting with making her own bread, using a recipe with only four ingredients, but one that requires patience.
She’s been giving loaves to her son and his girlfriend, who live nearby.
“That loaf of bread is like my way of showing—here you go, this is my warm loaf of bread in place of my motherly hug,” she said.
They’re usually still warm when she drops them off.
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