During lockdown, home cooking has never been more popular. Facebook friends are constantly sharing their homemade banana bread creations and asking me for recipe suggestions for family dinners. It's a bit ironic that as the Roving Chef for Scotland I had to put all my community cooking sessions on hold. That's why we turned to technology.
Initially we dipped our toe into the world of virtual sessions via Facebook and, as the sessions grew in popularity, we turned to Zoom because many of our participants wanted a more personal and interactive experience.
I must admit that cooking from home has had its challenges. Things didn’t always go smoothly. In one session, the smoke alarm went off and during another, my internet went down! After experimenting with camera set up and kitchen layout we found the perfect recipe for person-centred demonstrations, where participants selected the main course and pudding that they wished to learn. Zoom also allowed for Q&As at the end of the demonstration and participants could share their own cooking hints and tips.
I really enjoy the informal chat during the sessions: it helps to bring participants together, which is really important during lockdown, because many people can feel isolated at this time. Particularly because Glasgow has been in tier 4, where people have had very little contact with others.
I was delighted to be approached by my local housing association. A partnership cooking programme with Queens Cross Housing Association (QCHA) and V for Life was developed, which allowed residents within the Wellbeing 60+ Service to work together during the lockdown period.
The cooking sessions led to improved diets and healthier lifestyle choices, increased friendships, and local social networks. Digital support was provided by their health and wellbeing worker, Donna Maclean, helping individuals to access online activities and providing Zoom lessons. Recipes were shared in advance allowing participants time to prep and purchase the ingredients ahead of the session.
Some of the dishes that we made included: no-bake flapjacks, avocado choc pudding, banana fool, mushroom & Quorn carbonara, chilli non carne, pilau rice and mincemeat muffins. The most popular dish proved to be the mushroom & chickpea curry with flatbreads. Recipe links are included below.
Donna went on to say: “Many thanks to the Roving Chef, Claire Bannerman, for providing a very well planned and interactive programme. Our tenants expressed their gratitude, reiterating that learning about vegan food was interesting and informative".
Participant Cecillia Smith said: "Using Zoom allowed me to see my friends. I also met new people online from different areas. During the Q&A session, the chef provided a range of alternative ingredients and showcased the recipes and the final dish – very professional".
QCHA secured additional funding and to celebrate their achievements. Tenants will receive an in-house cooking certificate, cooking utensils, and a full range of herbs and spices to help keep them motivated in kitchen.If you would like to book a cookery session for a group that you support, or require further information please contact: Ellie Murphy – Cookery & Training Outreach Coordinator on 0161 257 0887 or by email.