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Aussies turn to the kitchen to keep busy

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Aussies turn to the kitchen to keep busy

A positive consequence of the coronavirus restrictions is that more families are baking to keep busy. WORDS: Emily Cosenza, AAP.

For stress relief, to fill time or to reconnect with family traditions, thousands of Australians are turning to home baking during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of those is Sabrina Fico, who is now using her time in self-isolation to carry on the Italian recipes of her grandmother Maria, who died in 2016.

Ms Fico went into quarantine with her parents and two sisters some weeks ago and, as a result, is spending more time in the kitchen to keep occupied.

She says she is cooking and baking with her family twice a week because they have more time to make foods from scratch, including gnocchi, lasagne sheets and pizza, like Maria did.

“My nonna also used to make taralli [Italian savoury biscuits] and my mum used to make them when she was little and it was something I’ve always wanted to do,” Miss Fico says. “Now we have the time to do it, learn more and practise.”

Charles Darwin University dietitian Judith Myers says amid the restrictions brought by the coronavirus pandemic, more families are looking for child-friendly activities while staying home.

She says it leads to more people combining cooking with family time, having a positive outcome amongst COVID-19’s negativity.

“Look for opportunities for families to cook meals together because that’s where kids learn about family traditions and culture and can connect,” she says.

“For many children, until now they haven’t necessarily been involved in learning about what those foods and traditions are.”

Not surprisingly, the return to more traditional activities also has a modern touch, with people turning to the internet in droves to source inspiration, recipes and cooking tips.

In the past 30 days, bread and cakes were the most popular Googled recipes nationally, while pancakes, banana bread, pasta and cookies are others to get big hits.

In the run-up to Easter, searches for hot cross buns also soared.

In recent weeks, damper has increased popularity in South Australia and Queensland.

For Hayley Murphy, banana bread has been a big hit. Since losing her job as a gymnastics coach, the 19-year-old has been baking every day to pass the time.

She says she has also sourced recipes for bliss balls and brownies online. “It’s definitely therapeutic and it takes a lot of stress out,” Miss Murphy says.

“I didn’t bake anywhere near as much as I am now.”

What’s cooking?

Visual discovery engine Pinterest has provided an insight into global micro-trends of quarantine life, and with families spending more time than ever in their homes, cooking has emerged as a popular search topic.

Pinterest statistics indicate that bread is the clear winner, with people increasingly searching for creative flour-ful recipes like salty croissants, damper bread, Japanese brioche and Navajo bread. Other significantly rising searches include fried sweet, mimosa (flower) cake and healthy gut recipes.

Home Cook

My Weekly Preview media sales manager Nicky Spencer is a self-confessed foodie. And, with extra time on her hands amid self-isolation, she has found herself spending quality time in her kitchen.

Here she shares her easy lamb ragu pasta sauce. The best thing? It’s made from leftovers!

“I love using leftover meats to turn into a cheat’s stroganoff, pie or pasta sauce,” she says.

“Last weekend I was lucky enough to have some leftover lamb shoulder from Dirty Moes’ Heat and Serve range. They say it serves two to three people but even being the piggies my husband and I are we always have enough for two meals. With delicious meat, a few staples and a bottle of pasta sauce, anyone can create this aromatic and tasty dish.”


Lamb ragu

Serves 4


  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced in wedges
  • Red wine
  • Water or stock to loosen
  • 2 cups of leftover lamb shoulder, shredded into chunks
  • Favourite jar of pasta sauce
  • Pasta of choice
  • Fresh basil and rocket to finish
  • Parmesan cheese


Heat oil in a fry pan or saucepan with a lid. Fry garlic and shallots until lightly coloured, then add a good splash of red wine, or stock if preferred, and reduce by half. Add lamb, pasta sauce and half a jar of water. Simmer on low with the lid on for a least an hour for flavours to develop. Stir occasionally. If sauce thickens too much, add extra stock or water to loosen when needed. Season to taste.

Cook pasta as per directions, then add into the sauce – do this gradually as you don’t want too much pasta and not enough sauce. If it’s too dry, add a spoon or two of the pasta water. Serve with fresh basil, rocket and parmesan cheese. Though my husband’s preferred style is “no green please, just parmesan cheese”.

This can be made stored in fridge for up to three days or frozen and reheated.


Enter now!

Fancy yourself as a bit of a home cook? Or have a great recipe to share? Simply email your recipe, along with your name and a photo (if you have one) to to go into the running to win a $100 voucher from the wonderful team at IGA Marketplace Wises Road. Our home cook competition launches this week and will continue for eight weeks. What are you waiting for? Enter now!

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