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Time for mastery in the kitchen

Food blogger Vanessa Dossi loves her space in the kitchen trying new dishes.
Food blogger Vanessa Dossi loves her space in the kitchen trying new dishes.
Image: Supplied

It is amazing how quickly life has changed under the national lockdown. Some might even say we're still adjusting but others have settled into a routine. This new normal
involves eating home-cooked meals for most people.

People now have the time, and don't have the always readily available fast food takeaway options. So there has been a burgeoning new set of lockdown cooks. Some are trying it for the first time while others are merely reviving rusty skills. Honestly, the change from the madcap pace of the rat race is welcomed.

The speed of our lives before lockdown has caused lots of people to eat on the go and not even look at what they're consuming.

Busy urbanites like social media manager and food blogger Vanessa Dossi strive to find the perfect balance with work and healthy eating.

Her routine before the lockdown consisted of juggling work, traffic and her outside work commitments. Dossi was a busy young woman. In conjunction with running her website Vanilla Scented Kisses, she caters and hosts bi-annual monthly cooking workshops in Fourways.

During the cooking class, the attendees will work through four recipes, where she demonstrates and the class cook for themselves.

It is R550 per class and all ingredients are included in the cover charge.

With the lockdown, Dossi has taken to her social media, notably her Instagram account, to share recipes with her audience.

"I have been sharing recipes more on my Instagram stories, instead of sending links. I'm also tapping into easy healthy nutritious recipes," she says.

She's currently working from home and says she's finding it very productive.

For those who find it a bit of a problem to cook every day and to help get you into a routine that is sustainable after lockdown, she recommends meal prepping.

Dosi herself meal-preps on Sundays to save time and says she avoids cooking red meat as it takes too long to cook. Her go-to is white meat, mainly chicken or fish. "I would usually roast a whole chicken and have it in different ways throughout the week.

"I'd take the chicken breast and put it in a salad or a curry sauce or just have it in a pie, it just minimises the amount of work I have to do during the week eating something that is already prepared."

Her multitasking tip is to make a tray bake, this is where you put all your ingredients on a tray, vegetables on one side and protein on the other, and put it in the oven and let it cook while you're busy with other things.

"Another thing I like to make is meatballs, I find them easy and quick to make. I like to make salad as well, a salad doesn't have to be lettuce, tomato and cucumbers ... it could be anything that you can find in the fridge.

"Sometimes I'll have a bunch of root vegetables and I'll put that in the oven to make a warm salad.

"And then I'll add them to a grain of sorts, sometimes it's couscous, sometimes it's brown rice," she says.

Part of her work as a food blogger is developing recipes. She says the biggest mistake young professionals make is in assuming a quick dinner means takeaways and deliveries.

"You have to want to cook meals for yourself and you have to be dedicated. A change in mindset and secondly another mistake we make is not preparing, not weekly prep but meals by prep. I also find it odd that people don't like leftovers. you can re-purpose the meal and that means you are not cooking every day."

Her parting advice to people is that they shouldn't be attached to a recipe.

"People become attached to their initial experience of a recipe and become unsettled when something is substituted for another. I'm struggling to convey to my audience that recipes can be refined and that is fine."

Dossi has shared some recipes to do when you're pressed for time but don't want to compromise on taste.

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