THE PANDEMIC has pushed us all way out of our comfort zones when it comes to cooking. Over the past year we’ve had to become better shoppers, waste-reducers, meal-stretchers and cooking-fatigue combatants. Those in the business of growing, butchering, cooking and serving food have grappled with the challenge of putting food on the table at home as well as at work, and they’ve gained some hard-earned kitchen wisdom. We approached a panel of pros and asked them to share their takeaways, their cooking coping mechanisms, their revised kitchen strategies and the new habits they plan to carry with them post-lockdown.
Author, ‘Cook This Book: Techniques That Teach and Recipes to Repeat’ (Los Angeles)
I have adopted some new routines that I’ll now always incorporate. I never stocked my freezer before. But now that I’m trying to minimize going to the grocery store, I have a fully stocked freezer. I just wake up in the morning, decide what I’m inspired to make for the day and pull it out. I keep two whole chickens, five pounds of ground beef, six different kinds of sausages and three cuts of steak so that there’s a protein for any particular moment.
I also found that keeping tortillas in the pantry at all times is a better option than keeping bread because bread deteriorates really quickly. I buy packs of flour tortillas and they never really go bad. You can bring them back to life quickly by heating them up in a skillet or over a burner.
Ceramicist, Connor McGinn Studios (Tarrytown, N.Y.)
I noticed my cabinets at home were filled with mismatched half-chipped plates, despite the fact I make plates for restaurants. So one of the first things I did was bring home a set of plates, because I was cooking and eating there so much. If you can’t go to a restaurant, you might as well make it nicer at home. It makes a difference even in getting takeout, to set it up on nice plates.
Over the summer I started foraging and finding spots for mushrooms and ramps and things like that. A great way to get outside.