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Jan 20 / Jonell Galloway

Rosa’s Musings: How Lemon Curd Saved My Life, or Cooking as Therapy, by Rosa Mayland


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Rosa’s Musings: How Lemon Curd Saved My Life, or Cooking as Therapy, by Rosa Mayland

Cooking is not just a “recreation”: It is therapeutic, and can save your life

Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing — love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist — not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.Quote by Keith Floyd, A Feast of Floyd

Cooking is good for the mind, body and soul

For those who smirk when they hear the word “cooking” or see it as a mindless pastime for housewives, naive dreamers or people with too much time on their hands, I have to say that they have been foolishly misguided into thinking such nonsense!

As a matter of fact, apart from being a very pleasant distraction, it has been scientifically proved that cooking has healing properties and a positive impact on individuals whether they are ill or in good condition. This alternative form of “cure” is often used in therapeutic cooking groups, coaching courses, and corporate management, as well as by medical staff to help patients who are psychologically fragile or physically injured.

Cooking is a highly demanding task that combines a wide array of skills. You have to do a lot of thinking, anticipating and planning in advance, then once that is done you have to purchase the ingredients and material which you’ll be using. Then you have to prepare yourself as well as your environment for the task that lies ahead and finally transpose the methods into reality — a job which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Cooking is a healthy “recreation” that requires physical, cognitive, social and intrapersonal skills. One needs a good range of movements in the upper body (shoulders, neck, fingers, elbows and wrists), perfect overall balance, sensory awareness (dealing with dangerous objects and situations) as well as sufficient muscle strength in the superior limbs (for mixing, lifting, chopping, pounding, whisking and cutting).

This activity improves and teaches sequencing (planning, organizing and understanding in which way and order things have to be carried out), memory (remembering the different steps, methods and how to accomplish them), concentration (being totally involved and focused on the recipes and outcome, especially when they are complicated), attention (when several chores are being executed simultaneously), time management (completion of an assignment within a limited time lapse) and ability for adaptability (being able to alter the recipe and techniques or improvise).

The therapeutic values of cooking are wide-ranging:

  • builds our self-respect and self-confidence, thus giving us a sense of accomplishment
  • develops our relationship/social deftness (working together, communication, sense of camaraderie, caring about others, defining and attaining team goals)
  • expands our social networks (sharing and taking part in food-related events such cooking classes, potlucks, bake sales, blogging, etc.)
  • decreases our anxiety, fear, stress, frustration, anger, thus making us feel better as it helps release physical and psychological tension (instead of punching somebody in the face or whacking
  • your kids you can now pound the hell out of your meat or mistreat your bread dough and beat your cream angrily)
  • motivates and gives us perspective (ambitions and the will to not let go)
  • facilitates self-awareness as we have to concentrate on ourselves (it is a highly meditative and contemplative exercise, a bit like yoga, which helps us clean the head and feel harmony)
  • “empties” our mind as we focus only on the moment and on what we are doing
  • nourishes our creative spirit
  • teaches us to cope with stress
  • and comforts us as flavors we love bring back happy memories of cherished moments in life

How cooking saved my life

Like many food-oriented people, I have experienced the soothing powers of food preparation. Seven years ago, I went through a very difficult period, and if cooking had not been one of my hobbies, I would not be where I am now. Through that medium I have been able to think about other things than my problems, escape depression, avoid self-pitying and withdrawal, open up to the world, work on myself and become a better as well as a stronger human being.

Thanks to this passion I have opened a blog, discovered hidden talents; my self-esteem has grown and my shyness has nearly totally disappeared. It helped me go through hard times, find a reason to continue loving life and gave me the will to be combative. The frightened and psychologically-bruised girl that I was in the past has healed and blossomed considerably.

Making lemon curd is something I’ve always liked doing as the whole process relaxes me and it is one of the treats that has a lift-me-up effect on me and which I consider very comforting. This exquisite spread reminds me of my English grandparents and the Sunday morning breakfasts I used to have when I was a kid, and makes me feel closer to England. I have loads of positive memories and associations with it, so when I’m feeling down, it is therapeutic to whip up some lemon curd.

I am so happy to be in possession of my grandmother’s 1971 recipe for this lusciously buttery, exquisitely tangy, divinely citrusy and blissfully smooth spread I ate throughout my childhood. Without it, I would not know what it is to reach gourmet Nirvana! Now it’s your turn to discover what bliss is…

Recipe: Lemon Curd

Recipe by Rosa Mayland 2011, all rights reserved (R)

Makes 2 pots of jam.

Ingredients

180 g unsalted butter
180 g granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
The rind of 3 organic lemons
170 ml lemon juice (from 3-4 organic lemons)

Instructions

1. Put the butter and the sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). Stir continuously until the butter has melted.

2. Zest and then squeeze the lemons.

3. Add both to the butter and sugar mixture in the bowl. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

4. Beat the eggs together and add to the contents of the bowl. Mix well.

5. Cook slowly (while continuously stirring to prevent lumps or curdling) until the mixture thickens.

6. Pour into clean jam pots and close them immediately.

Comments

  • The thickening phase takes around 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If the mixture doesn’t thicken, increase the temperature a little.
  • Lemon curd continues to thicken once it has been poured into the pots.
  • It has to be eaten fairly rapidly and can be kept for up to 10 days (maximum) in the refrigerator.
  • This British speciality is excellent on fresh homemade bread, biscuits or scones.

———————

Rosa’s Musings: Rosa Mayland will ponder on the meaning and significance of food in everyday life. She has the advantage of growing up in an incredibly multicultural environment and speaking many languages. She wrote a lovely piece in G Two Kitchen Love Food2 at Christmas, mixing memories of old times, with her multicultural background blending it all together into a beautiful, heart-warming story. She runs the site Rosa’s Yummy Yums. “Terroir with TLC” is the word chez Rosa — quality ingredients, regional and seasonal produce, made with care and love — and this is reflected in the recipes she creates.

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36 Comments

  1. Flo Makanai / Jan 31 2011

    That’s a very touching post, Rosa. Thank you for sharing such intimate and delicate thoughts. It is SO true that cooking can help cope with life’s hard moments…

  2. Rosa-Mayland / Jan 31 2011

    Thank you for the comment and kind words. I’m glad you liked my article and feel the same as me regarding cooking!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. celine / Feb 1 2011

    what a lovely post! it would appear we went through similar experiences, Rosa. I appreciate you even more than I did before, if that’s even possible.

  4. Rosa / Feb 1 2011

    Hi Céline. Thanks for the comment and kind words! I’m so happy to hear that you liked my article. Great to know that we have that in common…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Marysol / Feb 2 2011

    Wonderful post Rosa!

    Cooking is one of the most therapeutic tasks I “succumb” to each day (G) It relaxes me, clears my mind, but it also brings my troops together at the table to share our day.

  6. Rosa / Feb 2 2011

    Dear Marysol, thanks fro the comment! A very positive activity indeed. :-)

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Raina / Feb 3 2011

    Hi Rosa! I definitely agree. Cooking is very therapeutic for me, and when I share my food with family and friends and it makes them happy, it makes me feel great.

    Thank your for sharing this wonderful recipe:)

    • Rosa / Feb 3 2011

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you think the same was as me.

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  8. Jennfurla / Feb 3 2011

    You have agreat way about you Rosa, Lovely read.

    • Rosa / Feb 3 2011

      Thanks so much, dear! :-D

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  9. Aldy / Feb 3 2011

    Rosa, What a beautiful post. I too went through a similar experience.Thanks for sharing such valuable things :)

    Bravo!

    Cheers,

    Aldy.

  10. Rosa / Feb 3 2011

    Good to know that you liked my article. :-D

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. Margie Layfield / Feb 4 2011

    Your words have touched my soul, Rosa. Thank you for sharing them.

    • Rosa / Feb 4 2011

      I am happy to know that. Thanks!

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  12. Deeba / Feb 4 2011

    I really really enjoyed your post Rosa. Food has so much more potential to unify in the world, it is amazing. My life has changed with food, especially blogging. I love the connect your lemon curd offers. This is post I can ‘immerse’ in! Congrats on your first arite up here!

    • Rosa / Feb 6 2011

      Thank you, Deeba! Yes, food has no borders and unites people. That is one thing we all have in common…

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  13. gracianne / Feb 4 2011

    Very good post Rosa (as usual). I always thought cooking was a meditation, but it is the first time I see the idea put into words. I am glad the therapy worked for you, and we got to know you.

    • Rosa / Feb 6 2011

      Thanks, dear! I’m also glad to have got to know you through this medium…

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  14. marla / Feb 4 2011

    Rosa, I never knew we had so much in common (well kind thought we did.) Cooking takes me to places I never thought possible. It also helps me stay clear of my own rambling thoughts. Great to keep busy with something that nourishes the soul :)

    • Rosa / Feb 6 2011

      I’m glad to hear that! :-) Cooking is such a wonderfuk activity that brings balance, peace and harmony in one’s life.

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  15. Sweet Artichoke / Feb 4 2011

    It is all so true and so nicely written! Thanks for sharing a part of your life and a truly delicious recipe.
    Whenever I say to people that cooking is like meditation and therapy for me, I usually receive puzzled looks, raised eyebrows and even not-so-nice comments … if only they knew…

    • Rosa / Feb 6 2011

      Thanks! Yes, they are missing out something here… So sad some people don’t know how blissful it is to be in the kitchen and let your creativity flow freely.

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  16. Vanille / Feb 6 2011

    So agree with all you have detailed. You have also highlighted some aspects I’ve never thought of before really. A good read ! I should send it to one of my sister, actually to convert her !
    And your Grandmother’s lemon curd recipe, so valuable, thank you for sharing !

    • Rosa / Feb 6 2011

      Thank you! I’m glad you like that recipe. Hopefully you’ll be able to convert your sister… ;-)

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  17. Anne Zaya / Feb 10 2011

    Rosa,
    I so enjoyed finding your blog today. I am trying to get started with blogging, and have wanted to write a book (too much info. as it would be many many novels), but my son feels I should learn to blog.

    Baking saved my life 46 years ago, and I discovered a passion for baking when finally, after a hard year of tossing my Parker Rolls into the trash (I called them my hockey pucks), I found the SECRET to bread baking. Then I was on a ROLL, and have never stopped.

    Coupling my passion of baking with photography and music, really drew me into your site.

    Congrats to you for continuing your site for 10+ years, and finally having your work in The Rambling Epicure. I loved the story about the lemon curd and your grandmother and family.

  18. Priscilla / Feb 10 2011

    Thank you for sharing in such a beautifully articulate and intimate way, the many therapeutic benefits of cooking – it is so much more than a mindless pastime for housewives. To me, one of the best things about cooking is continuing traditions and connecting with your family in the past and the present and I really enjoyed that you included your grandmother’s luscious lemon curd recipe that brings back sweet memories of your childhood.

    • Rosa / Feb 10 2011

      Thank you Priscilla! I am happy to know that you’ve enjoyed my article.

      It is indeed a great way to connect with the family and to perpetuate traditions.

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  19. Rosa / Feb 10 2011

    Dear Anne,

    Thank you for your comment and for visiting my blog as well as The Rambling Epicure! I’m glad you liked both my article and site.

    If you feel the urge to write and you are commited, then I really recommend you to start blogging. It is a very enjoyable activity, but it demands a lot of patience and hard work…

    Good to know that cooking saved your life and that you developped a passion for baking.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  20. Maris (In Good Taste) / Jun 12 2011

    Cooking was also a saving grace for me during a hard time in my life. This is a powerful and relevant post for many. Very well said!

    • Rosa / Feb 17 2013

      It definitely helps!

      Thank you. I’m glad you liked this post.

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  21. Renu / Apr 4 2012

    Very nice article Rosa! Loved reading it. Cooking definitely is a saving grace for many.

    • Rosa / Feb 17 2013

      Thank you, Renu!

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  22. Allison Carver / Oct 18 2012

    Hello Rosa,

    I love this blog posting, and I am so happy I found it. thank you for posting it. I totally agree with what you wrote about cooking being therapeutic. I too believe that the process of cooking is relaxing, promotes growth, and self esteem! I’m a therapist in Richmond, Va. and I own a business called A Taste of Therapy, which practices this exact idea. Cooking as therapy. I just wanted to share this with you as we are like minded! http://www.atasteoftherapy.com

    Have a great day!

    Thanks again,
    Allison

    • Rosa / Feb 17 2013

      Hello allison,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m glad you like this article.

      Indeed, cooking therapy can be very helpful to many people as it is such a de-stressing and mind-freeing activity.

      Your workshops sound very interesting. A great project!

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,

      Rosa

  23. Jonell Galloway / Feb 16 2013

    Thanks!

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