Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Anna. I’m originally from Brazil. I came to New Zealand about six years ago to do a PhD in Forestry at the University of Canterbury. Initially, research and an academic life were my goal. However, things begin to change for me after I met my fiance, Blair. In a very good and unexpected way!
Blair was born and raised in Christchurch. He always dreamed of having a piece of land where he could raise animals and grow his own food. As for me, I always loved #animals and have always dreamed of having an animal #sanctuary. However, the thought of owing land and living a #rural #lifestyle never crossed my mind before I met Blair. Perhaps that was because I grew up in an apartment (or apartments – my family and I moved a lot due to my father’s line of work), and lived all my life in big cities. To be honest, I never thought I’d settle down anywhere. I moved from place to place pretty much all my life and I grew used to it.
About one year through my phd, I met Blair on a dating website here in NZ and 4 1/2 years later (and 6 years in the same town, but not in the same house), here were are: we have a 1 acre property outside of Christchurch, where we raise a couple of Arapawa #sheep, 20 #chickens and three dogs. We also have a few vegetable beds
that were built by the property’s former owners.
We rescued the chickens, Moo (our sheep) is an orphan sheep and we adopted her. We also adopted our dogs.
Everything is great if it weren’t for my chronic #anxiety, which makes focusing on anything ever more difficult. You see, in order for me to calm myself down and make it through the day, I tend to do several things at the same time. I do anything to keep my mind off of my situation.
So, one of the things that helps me the most when I’m having one of my pre-anxiety attacks is cooking. Both of my parents cook really well. Each one has his or her own style, but “critiques” have pretty much been unanimous: my parents are great cooks.
I can’t say that I am anyway as good as either one of them, but I do enjoy cooking, especially for friends.
I never had to cook in a regular basis to be honest. When I lived with my parents, my mom was always very territorial about the kitchen. When I was a child, her excuse to keep me out of the kitchen was that I could hurt myself. Later, she was always too busy to teach me how to cook, and that I should just watch her.
Watch her I did, and so I learned the basic stuff: how to cook rice, fry an egg, boil potatoes to make mash potatoes (one of my favorite dishes).
I learned how to cook a few other dishes when I lived by myself for a while in Brazil and then, when I moved to NZ, my cooking habit took off. I think because of the new place, new friends, new exciting life, I decided to take on cooking so I could have my new friends (all of them from other parts of the world) over for lunch or dinner.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that I don’t eat meat. So, if I were invited to someone’s home, I wouldn’t expect them to cook something else just for me. So, I’d always bring a plate to share, but with enough food to cover my temporary stay.
My dietary limitation also made me seek other ways of cooking those typically Brazilian dishes in a vegetarian way. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brazilian food, it varies a lot from North to South, from East to West, made with seafood, pork or other meat types. We don’t eat spicy food like Mexicans. Although we do have a wide range of hot sauces from various pepper species, I’d say that our hot sauces are more aromatic than hot.
So I began to read recipe websites and blogs, as well as come up with my own creation based on some of the recipes I’d find.
I love making dough, so making bread and buns is probably my favorite baking activity. I’m not a huge fan of sweets, so my dough is savory. In order to make it a bit sweeter, I use cinnamon or nutmeg. But I do make cakes sometimes, especially corn and banana cakes. I am also very proud of having learned how to make my mom’s carrot cake. Yum! Brazilian carrot cake has chocolate frosting. LOVE IT!
So, cooking became a way for me to socialize and to relax after a day’s work, or to hold off any panic or anxiety attacks lingering in the background. Cooking is probably one of the rarest activities that I take part in and that I fully focus on. My mind is completely dedicated to getting that recipe right so that Blair and/or my friends can enjoy the meals I make for them.