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Ways to wellbeing

How to cook mindfully – 'quick, calm cooking' with Anna Jones

It can be hard to find moments of calm, mindfulness or privacy in what for most are are busy, busy days. But simply reframing everyday chores like the making of food as opportunities for time out (think ’mindful cooking’) ensures that we get that 'rebooting' feeling that privacy gives us – even as we get the stuff of life done.

The research for our Life at Home Report 2019 showed that privacy is a complicated ask for most, and that people rely on signals – whether consciousious or subconscious – to show those they live with that they need time alone. In fact, 26% admit to busying themselves with activities to show that they’re unavailable to others.

In this vein, we’re thinking back to our post ’Four simple steps to building private moments into your day’, which suggested that when we simply focus on the (often repetitive) rhythm of chores such as folding laundry or cooking, the activity offer us a sense of restfulness for the privacy it gives us.

12% of people globally don’t feel they have the right to ask for privacy at home, and 26% admit to busying themselves with activities to show they’re unavailable to others

So for this post, we zoom in on mindful cooking, with ideas for de-stressing your cooking environment from British vegetarian cook, Anna Jones. And in next week’s post, we feature tips from the popular Headspace app, for cooking as meditation – also dubbed ’therapeutic cooking’ by Harry Ritter, MD, in this article on wellness site wellandgood.com.

Ritter says: “People should do it at a time when they can really engage in the activity and they’re not trying to multitask.” And to this end, we think making your workspace functional and easy to navigate is key. To do this, we follow the list Anna Jones opened her second cookbook, ’A Modern Way to Cook’ (2015) with, for a practise she calls ’quick, calm cooking.’

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Anna Jones’s tips for quick, calm cooking

Clear enough space to cook in

Like most people’s, Anna’s kitchen counters get cluttered, but she clears an area big enough to cook comfortably in.

Have the basic equipment

This one really speeds things up. The basic basics are fine, but invest in a food processor if you’re a very slow chopper; if things are consistently burning or sticking, it’s time to invest in new pans.

Place a mixing bowl on the work surface

With this in place for peelings and trimmings, you’ll avoid having to run back and forth to the bin. You’ll also ensure the area you’re working in is close to the stove, so you can do a few jobs at once.

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Read the recipe through 

Familiarise yourself with the details from top to bottom before you start doing anything. You need to know what happens when, as well as how things should be chopped and cooked.

Get all your ingredients together by your chopping board

This way, you have everything to hand before you start chopping. It’s about simplifying the process and so often when Anna asks people what went wrong, they say they burnt the onions while digging around in a cupboard for the coriander seeds.

When you come to gathering, make it easy for yourself 

You don’t want to be spending half an hour spent clearing out the spice shelf. Anna keeps all her spices in little labelled glass jars by the cooker, for example. If you do a lot of baking, put big markered masking tape labels on all the different flours to show their type/name, so you can grab each one in an instant.