on skills we’ve developed or improved.
We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 65.
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success
RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain
Let me tell you a true story. Once, when I was about 9, I baked a cake on my own and set it on the counter to cool. The family dog, Boots, managed to jump high enough to grab it. That’s it. I mean, literally that’s it – Boots didn’t even eat it. The cake was THAT awful.
While I don’t think that incident scarred me for life, I must say that cooking and baking have never, ever been on my priority list. Throughout the years, I’ve gotten away with ordering takeout or delivery, dining out, or – and this is the best – getting others to cook for me. “Others” have included friends, family members, my ex-husband, and my kids.
[Another true story: I once hosted a dinner party and couldn’t order the food, so I ended up serving my guests Pop Tarts and cereal.]
With the lockdown in Malaga, going out was no longer an option. The number of carryout places was severely limited. Delivery was pretty limited, too, and outrageously expensive.
So I started to make a few simple things. Adam made helpful comments like “too much salt” and “would it be okay if I microwaved this?” But I didn’t give up. Once I mastered basic dinner recipes, I quickly moved on to baking.
My first disaster was when the blueberries in my mutant blueberry muffin/cake exploded in the oven. But I kept trying.
Since my encounter with the blueberries, I have been baking something every day. I’m happy to say I have finally conquered crumpets and vanquished biscuits. Tomorrow I’ll move on to the subjugation of scones. And I’ve spent way more on flour and baking supplies than if I had just ordered the damn delivery. BUT I DID IT.
Practice makes perfect
Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia
I love seeing how creative people have been during the shutdown period of the #coronavirus.
I have a list of skills and interests that I was hoping to hone in on and improve now that I had all the time in the world. Surely I would find something off this long list, which includes photography, Photoshop, cooking, crafting, speaking fluent Italian, and gardening.
So which skill have I focused on and improved? Well none of the above! And the first was quite by accident.
Writing has played a major part of getting me through each confused and bewildered day during shutdown. Until this blog, I hardly wrote nor voiced my opinion in writing. So after 60-plus days of daily blogging, I hope I have developed a style that I can be proud of and maybe even worthy of a following.
The second skill has emerged because of necessity. I’m a sprouting mixologist!!! Not because I plan on getting a job as a bartender when this is all over, but because “happy hour” cocktails have become a crucial pastime and an event to look forward to during shutdown.
I have become creatively experimenting in fun new drinks, or sometimes just putting a twist on a classic. For example, you take the Moscow Mule, which we all know is vodka, lime, and ginger beer. That can be adapted to an Italian mule by adding limoncello. Or a Bombay mule by infusing the vodka with cardamom and adding real ginger and simple syrup. Viola! I’m a mixologist.
Practice makes perfect, so I keep trying to improve daily. I still believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule, which claims that you need 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.
If I count the 2 hours a day writing and making drinks, then I’m on hour 124 of skill mastery. Only 99,876 hours to go!
Discovering the kitchen
RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon
Back in my 20s (like yesterday, ok?!), I had a flair for cooking and baking. I used to live in an apartment complex where many of my college friends resided, and on Sundays, we all had lunch together over a Lebanese meal from the Mloukhieh (Jew’s Mallow) to the Fatteh (chickpeas, pita bread, yoghurt, garlic, and ghee-fried pine nuts sprinkled with paprika and chopped parsley.)
I also used to love baking and decorating cakes, and became very good at it. I even considered it as a business at one point.
Fast-forward to living alone in Beirut in my 30s (um, also like yesterday), I survived on takeout and my cooking/baking flair was all but a distant memory.
Fast-forward again to being locked down in the wonderful world of Coronoia (I am still in my 40s, duh…) I needed to remain busy, so one day I asked our housekeeper for permission to use her kitchen, under her supervision. She reluctantly accepted while looking at me with a bewildered look, because since she started living with my husband and me, my trips to the kitchen have entailed making espresso!
And I rediscovered the joys of cooking with passion and love, albeit with a few burnt attempts!!! From making wonderful salad dressings to baking gluten-free cakes and pies (my husband is gluten-intolerant). Oh wow, what an experience it has been. The only gratitude I have for the lockdowns!
I now look forward to being in the kitchen, researching my recipes, and preparing them. But the biggest joy of all is when my husband has a taste, and as I look at him in anticipation, he says “mmmmm, this is good!” Problem is, he always looks so surprised at my newly found talents!
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