Staying Entertained While Cooking
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Not only do I cook there, but I also use the countertop as a standing desk because I’m broke AF. But honestly, even if I wasn’t, I would probably still use the kitchen as my base of operations. This would be easier if I didn’t have a tiny galley kitchen, but hey, we’ll have that mansion one day. In the meantime, I have to find ways to keep myself entertained while cooking, armed with a small laptop, a phone, and my brain.
Here’s how I stay sane during long hours in the kitchen.
When I first started cooking, I went for the obvious: music. I made playlists for cooking, and that worked fine for the first few months. But eventually the same song playing over and over again gets old. When I realized that I knew every lyric to every Eminem song, it became clear that it was time to find a new way to keep my brain busy.
That being said, music can be a really good way to either get pumped up or wind down while you’re chopping veggies. I personally like to have a few different playlists on my phone ready to go, usually one for slow music, one for dance music, and one for country. Make them ahead of time so that you aren’t constantly stopping to search for a new song. It makes it easy to just push Play and let it go.
If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll wanna have an easy way to turn the volume down when you need to read instructions (my brain cannot handle noise and reading at the same time). Sometimes I just need to read a paragraph and I can’t get Britney Spears to shut the hell up and let me think.
I say sitcoms, but really I mean any non-thinky show. Because in the end, your attention is gonna be back and forth a lot. You don’t want to have a political drama or anything really intense playing while you’re distracted, because you will miss stuff, or you’ll get sucked in and burn something. I speak from experience here. Sitcoms, cartoons, shows you’ve seen a lot, comedies…these are all good to have going in the background. Sometimes I just let Spongebob Squarepants or Adventure Time run if I’m feeling really brain-dead.
What better way to get inspired than to take a step into Ina Garten’s kitchen or watch Anthony Bourdain eat a big bowl of pho? Personally, I have cooking shows that I watch for the food, and then ones that I watch because I like the host and I want to pretend that I’m their friend. Either way, it’s nice to feel like you have someone in the kitchen with you, especially someone who can’t see that you just dropped raw chicken on the floor or that you forgot the salt. They’re like the perfect companions.
Laughter is the best medicine, or so I’ve found to be true. When I first began cooking, everything felt so stressful and overwhelming. I burned things. I over-spiced and under-spiced. I dropped knives dangerously close to my feet. On the nights that I was listening to a good comedy special, like Bo Burnham or Garfunkel and Oates, I found that I didn’t get so uptight over the small stuff.
My Netflix comedy recommendations: Bo Burnham’s Make Happy, Jim Gaffigan’s anything, Iliza Schlesinger’s Freezing Hot, and Trevor Noah’s Afraid of the Dark.
There are, of course, other options out there, but these are the ones I utilize the most. When you start cooking, you’re inevitably giving up a lot of couch potato time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself and unwind.
Some things I don’t recommend:
Audiobooks. It’s too easy to miss information while you’re in the groove of cooking, and then get even more frustrated with the whole thing.
Foreign films. You can’t read subtitles and instructions at the same time.
Complex movies. Inception and souffles do not mix, and you will hate yourself.
I hope that you’re all enjoying every moment in the kitchen. It’s a privilege to be able to make your own food, even if that just means assembling a quesadilla after a twelve-hour shift. Many, many people don’t get the opportunity to cook, and we should remember that every day.
Until next time, stay entertained.