Cooking through quarantine with Spiral Theory Test Kitchen

Enrich mind, body and soul with New York's favourite queer culinary collective and their very special recipes – made especially for i-D.

06 April 2020, 8:00am

The empire suffering, restructures air

The first step to this recipe is to ask yourself: what do I really need right now? To do this, close your eyes and breathe. Don’t do much, just feel your breath for however long it takes -- half a minute, 10 minutes, an hour... it doesn’t matter. When you feel ready, in a kind way, ask the smallest part of yourself what it really needs. Maybe this little self needs you to trust it, or to cuddle and take care of it, or maybe it needs you to let it have more room to emerge, or just more attention in general, or even just to keep the pace of what you are already doing. Let what you find here be the guide to the next step in the recipe!

Seraphim sing to the chaos void

If what you found is that your little self needs to feel expressive, courageous, let loose, trusted, to live more fully or challenged, try this recipe first. It can be made more savoury or more sweet, also depending on your small self.

Put out some crunchy things, some creamy things, some colourful things, something that you don’t eat very often, some bigger things, and some little things. This can be done entirely from what you have in the house already or have ordered online. Lay them out on the counter/table with a big plate or tray.

Here are some options...

Creamy things: yogurt, ice cream, homemade pudding (alternative milk sweetener and corn starch), creme anglaise, oatmeal, cheese sauce, coconut cream, whipped cream

Colourful things: candy, fruit loops, fresh fruit, freeze dried fruit, sprinkles, coulis, food-dyed something, vegetables, pickles, rinds, juice powder

Crunchy things: crackers, cereal, cacao nibs, croutons, rusk, cookie crumbs, nuts, sugar work

Something you don’t eat very often: flavoured lube, any packet of soup mix or under-used spice in your pantry, a condiment that hasn’t expired but you rarely bust out, any fermented thing you forgot about, anything extra-spicy

This is the time to turn on your favourite music, something lively. We’ve been listening to "XTC" by DJ Koze. Now you can shake and/or dance (warn your roommates that you’re doing this if you have them and invite them to join or do this on FaceTime with a friend or two over zoom/houseparty). Shake for a while to get the hang of it and then, while shaking, assemble your dish, but keep moving! You can do this from a chair or in your heart if physical mobility is not comfortable. Start with the item you have the most of and build from there, throw something from a distance (don’t worry you can clean up after), pile it high, sprinkle, dust, flourish, break apart, but keep moving!

sttk baby cake

Be your own baby

If your little self is feeling raw, or scared, or trepidatious, or nervous, or extra small, or hopeless, or like it needs a hug, maybe start with this recipe. Ask yourself: what feels cozy and comforting to me to cook in this moment with what I have on hand? If you have a dish that you have a lot of familiarity with, or you remember a family member or queer elder making for you this would be a great time to cook that. Maybe you even want to call that person if they are still on this plane, and ask them how they cook that special dish? It doesn’t even have to be delicious if it makes you feel familial. One time my grandmother found a case of health food gummy bears that had congealed together in our storage room and cut them up and put them in a tomato stew and it was supremely gross but also epic.

That being said, my go-to for cozy food is homemade mac and cheese (recipe below) but it can be anything. Maybe try Jollof Rice? It's also extremely cozy. Listen to some familiar or soothing music (we’ve been listening to "Izzit True What They Tell Me" by Ramona Lisa) or put on a mindfulness podcast (Tara Brach just put one out on bringing mindfulness to this moment of pandemic).

How to make {metta} mac and cheese:

Melt a large soup spoon’s worth of butter with a spoonful of flour, it should make a toothpaste consistency. Add a little dry mustard or dijon if you have and/or a pinch of cayenne. Add milk (can be oat milk or any unsweetened alternative milk) starting with ¼ cup at a time, whisking it really good so no lumps it will thicken. When you notice it thicken you can add more milk. Do this until the sauce is the consistency of shampoo and then add grated cheese. Boil water with some salt and cook some pasta according to the directions. Strain (don’t rinse) the pasta and serve with cheese sauce. Some people add panko/breadcrumbs and maybe some parm and broil it off in the oven, so this is a great time to get more expressive with the toppings if you feel a shift to that momentum.

Your feeling may change mid-preparation, in which case you might want to combine the two recipes -- a cozy food with an expressive topping, or a wild dipping cream with cozy home-made chocolate chip cookies. This is not just about being positive. For the recipes to turn out well we must recognise what’s really going on for us and respond with kind attention. Eat muckbang style while taking sexy pictures, or call your mom while eating, or throw a zoom dinner party where everyone makes this or another recipe and shares their creation!

We’re in this together.

spiral theory test kitchen