by Annabel Alder
When you’ve reached your breaking point with the LSE trilemma (maintaining a social life and good grades while feeling like a real human being), no mind-body self-care is quite as nourishing as cooking. There is something so soothing about the physicality of washing, chopping, stirring, and then eating – as well as the satisfaction of knowing you’ve saved some cash for a bad decision on the weekend.
After spending an afternoon in the library’s “Silent Zone” with 11 tabs open at once, be the grown-up of your study group and make the dinner plan. Risotto! It’s comfort food at its very best – warm, slow and totally plant-based. It sounds fancy, but the whole recipe serves three people and actually works out at less than £1 per portion. Reach for a bag of risotto rice, a basic box of mushrooms, one white onion, a vegetable stock cube, garlic, and some olive oil from your local grocery store, and you’re all set for cooking an easy and delicious meal. Apart from the rice-to-stock ratio, all the ingredients are flexible, so feel free to add more of what you like; that leftover white wine from last week’s pre’s finally has a time to shine!
Wash and slice the mushrooms, and ask a friend to dice the onion, while your other Spotify celebrity friend with 100 followers connects their phone to the speaker. Turning the hob onto a medium heat, add a glug of oil to the base of a large wok or saucepan. Wait for it to get shiny, then slide the onions into the pan and watch them soften to a light golden colour, for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a sliced clove of garlic, and wait another 10. Take a ¾ cup of risotto rice and stir it in slowly so the rice is covered in oil, all while you explain how that new LSELove post just *has* to be about you. Pour in a half-glass of wine, and dole out the rest to your friends while you wait for the rice to absorb it.
In the meantime, boil 600ml of water, and nod along to the tune while your friend explains at length what consulting actually means. Pour out a cup or mug of hot water, stir in half of the stock cube, and pour this over the risotto once the wine has been absorbed. Stir the rice as often as you want (it’s gorgeously therapeutic after a day of typing and clicking) and once this cup has been absorbed, repeat with another cup. Keep stirring, or give this job to the friend who’s just realised they missed their internship application deadline. After the second cup has been absorbed, test the rice – if the grains stick to your teeth, it’s not quite cooked yet, so add another half cup of hot water. Otherwise, take it off the heat and stir for a few minutes. Stir in some parmesan or vegan hard cheese if you want, then serve into three bowls. My mum says mushrooms are good ‘brain food’, so maybe that problem set will solve itself when you get back.