According to Dr. Jeffrey MacCormack, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology and Inclusion in the Faculty of Education, cooking is far more than a panacea for hunger.

The act of food preparation results in the gift of sustenance for both giver and receiver on every level—body, mind, and spirit.

Never were these benefits more welcome or satisfying than now, when COVID-19 has either confined us to our homes or sent us out to perform essential work in an unsafe and uncertain world.

Since the pandemic began,” says MacCormack, “the thing that has really comforted me (and my family) is my interest in cooking.”

How does cooking contribute to your sense of well-being?
Choosing ingredients and preparing food is a meditative process. Cooking helps me be present in the moment, helps me feel connected to my body during times when my mind is a million miles away. It helps me understand the connection between food producers and food distribution. Above everything else it results in prepared food, and prepared food is the perfect opportunity to sit as a family and talk about the day.

Have you had to change the way you prepare food since the lockdown?
I’ve been ordering groceries online and reducing my trips to the butcher to once a month. Various food items have been limited in supply, but not for long. If I couldn’t find butter beans I cooked with navy beans instead. If I couldn’t find heavy cream, I reduced half-and-half.

Do you have a favourite food item that you enjoy preparing?
This may seem weird, but for me the ultimate thrill is custard. Making a perfect custard, silky smooth and spadable, is a difficult task.

Making a crème brûlée is a dance of heat and milk protein."

You honour and respect the ingredients, but the VIP of the party is egg yolk. How does one raise the temperature of yolks without scrambling your eggs? Gently. Expertly. Slowly.

You are clearly passionate about cooking. Are there other wellness activities you enjoy?
I write and read (a major component of my job). I’ve been investing in digital readers and audiobooks, catching up on some classic literature. I ordered the Handbook of Educational Psychology and I’ve been reading a paper every day. We are happiest when challenged slightly beyond our capacity. It can be boring to only do things we know we can do, so we seek out new stimulation.

MacCormack is no stranger to personal challenge. In 2019 he took the stage at a University of Lethbridge TEDx event to speak about his lifelong struggles with stuttering and to advocate for the importance of allowing students to see themselves in their teachers. He shares his talk, along with his top five book recommendations below.

The Stuttering Professor: A Case for Scrappy Teachers

Top 5 Recommended Book Titles
Educated, by Tara Westover (memoir)
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (novel)
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (novel, different from the movie)
Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin (YA novel)
The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak (children’s picture book)

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan, Photo courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey MacCormack

Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
Wellness is Feeling Productive: Sally Leung (BA/BEd '17)
Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)
Wellness is Spending Time Outdoors: Dana Visser
Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
Wellness During the COVID-19 Experience, PSII, and Staying Connected: Kelsey Shoults
Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
Wellness is Spiritual: David Slomp
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness
The Intersectionality of Faith, Mental Health and Wellness for Racialized Populations During the Pandemic

For more information please contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
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