Words & Photos by Sarah Ann Dillon
The time: a Saturday at the beginning of lockdown.
The place: my kitchen.
I have always been a great lover of books and read every day. Something. A novel, a magazine article, a poem, the back of the cornflakes packet. Anything, you get the idea.
I am also a great lover of food and eat every day. Well, we have to don’t we…
So, there I was in my kitchen, forced to Stay At Home, with more time than usual on my hands, when my two loves combined.
From my large collection of books, I had picked out a cookery book called ‘4 Ingredients’. It is written by two Australian women, Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham.
These ladies, two very busy mothers with little time to cook, were frustrated by cookery times and recipes with too many difficult to find and expensive ingredients.
So, they wrote their own book. With easy recipes and each dish having only up to four ingredients.
This is where the two tins of food come in. One of their recipes was simply to combine a tin of salmon (bones and skin removed) with a tin of asparagus soup.
Finished off with a swirl of cream on top. I had the required tins of food and I adapted the recipe very slightly with a few sprigs of rocket to garnish.
I omitted the cream because my tin of soup was in fact Cream of Asparagus soup. I added the rocket garnish because I love rocket and could eat it by the bagful. (Another plus – it’s a green and very healthy for you).
Producing this plate of colourful and tasty food led me later in the day to repeat the process. Egg Frittata with Feta Cheese. On the side, lightly cooked red pepper, red onion and mushroom. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and garnished with fresh parsley.
For those of you who are counting, yes, I know that’s more than four ingredients. But we can cheat and not count the balsamic or the parsley.
Now you need to know that before lockdown I was never that person who posted pictures online, much less pictures of what I’d had for my dinner.
But here I was Saturday evening March 28, 2020 and I had posted my first foodie photo. And this was something I have continued to do during lockdown.
I have talked to friends about food, and they have shared their favourite recipes and food photos with me.
Another fact you need to know about me is that I have been plagued throughout my life with periods of poor mental health: panic attacks, anxiety and depression.
On really bad days the last thing I wanted to do was to cook myself a meal.
But if all you have to do is to open two cans of food, combine the contents, heat them up and add a sprig of parsley it all seems so much easier.
I am a creative person too. I love colour.
By accident, I had put some bright red tomatoes with some cheese, green olives and oatcakes on a white plate with a red border.
Did you notice we’re back to the 4 Ingredients again? And no cooking involved.
When I posted this photo online a friend commented on how well the food was presented and how the plate colour complemented the food colours.
This is another important aspect of enjoying your food. If it looks nice you really want to eat it.
I have even taken up a related hobby of colouring in online. There are a lot of paint by numbers apps to choose from. I took a picture of cakes on Valentines Day which I also told people about.
Having others to talk to and to share my creativity with has helped my mental health enormously.
Before I asked a local mental health charity, Stepping Stones, for help I was a bit isolated; reluctant to admit to having problems with my mental health.
Meeting and getting to know people in social groups there, has allowed me to become more open, to make new friends and have people to share my passions with.
I just hope they don’t mind too much being bombarded with photos of books and of food. There is so much creativity within our group it won’t be too long before they get their own back!