Over the next few months we'll all be spending a lot more time indoors trying to limit the spread of COVID-19. We've been in touch with members of the mountain medicine community to ask them for suggestions on how to manage. Here's Kitty Duncan, Consultant Anaesthetist and DiMM holder, to tell us what's cooking...
"We are mountain medics and therefore our natural stress-relieving activities generally involve getting outdoors and exercising. However, another hobby has long held my interest - from being taught how to make frittata by my first serious boyfriend to much later spending 3 years as a pub landlady and part time chef (which is a whole other story), and more recently attending an Introduction to Sourdough course, cooking has become more and more important in my life. Cooking is for me an artistic and creative outlet, a satisfying act of turning raw ingredients into a meal, and a great way of focussing my mind away from the stress of the job.
When I was asked to write this, instead of thinking of my most culinary creations, it made me remember the times when I was living a semi-isolated lifestyle and how important food became then: when there’s not a lot to do meals become very important punctuation points through the course of the day.
I volunteered on two missions with Doctors Without Borders. On both, the volunteer medical staff lived within a compound and had very limited freedoms. We did have cooks to feed us on daily basis, but cooking for each other became a form of entertainment. In Papua New Guinea we held a Come Dine with Me competition, which really brought out the creativity within the team. I didn’t win, but it should be noted that my preparations for my meal were somewhat interrupted when I had to anaesthetise for a 2 hour multi-trauma case in the middle of making a chocolate mousse!
So I highly recommend getting in the kitchen and learning some new skills. Plus, you get to eat something tasty and homemade at the end!
Here are my recommendations for places to look for
Nigel Slater's Double Ginger Cake - yes, you read it right, double ginger
For a great all round beginners’ cook book, which teaches you all the classic techniques in a really clear simple style, try Leiths How to Cook, a follow-up to their classic Leiths Cookery Bible (the nerd that I am, I have both!). It is (literally) weighty but it will take you through everything from how to make shortcrust pastry, bread and hollandaise, to how to fillet a flatfish. I can guarantee it will become your go to reference book for tips and techniques. My favourite recipes are Lemon Tart, Roast Butternut Risotto and Braised Red Cabbage and Apple.
Yotem Ottolengi is known for his Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. This was the first cookbook I picked up and immediately wanted to make EVERY SINGLE recipe. Ottolenghi’s books are well known for needing a lot of ingredients and time, however this one is different. The recipes really are quick and simple and so tasty and healthy. I just love it. If you are a pescatarian like me his Plenty is also excellent. My favourite recipes (so far) are Smoked Fish and Parsnip Cakes, Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za'atar and Puy Lentil and Aubergine Stew.
The Guardian's How To Cook The Perfect... series is a brilliant resource to use when you want to make something particular but don’t have a recipe.
Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes. She may be (to some people, annoyingly) ubiquitous, but her recipes always work! This book is cheap and full of easy recipes – the Victoria Sponge and Devonshire Apple Cake always went down well when I was a chalet cook. However, if you want to go super decadent, I love Nigel Slater’s Double Ginger Cake, or if you prefer chocolate, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.
And finally, if you fancy making your own sourdough bread, now is the perfect time to start because that is what you need for making it: lots of time! With the daily ritual of feeding your starter, it is also a great process to experience with the kids!"
Part 4 of "Isolation" can be found here.
Please get in touch if you'd like to take part in other "Isolation" posts!