Cooking time ”August 2010


The following report describes the "Cooking Time" project which takes place in a day care centre run by the Romanian Mental Health Charity, Estuar


"Cooking Time" activity is one of the most important activities for our users, because their incomes seldom rise above the minimun level of subsistence. The positive effects this activity will bring in their lives, both by eating the meals and by acquiring new personal abilities for the users who do not know how to prepare a warm meal, will have as a result the increase of the independence and the quality of their lives.


The activity is one of the most popular activities that our beneficiaries attend.  The general objective is to develop within adults with mental problems the ability to live an independent life.


There are two specific objectives also: to learn how to manage their financial needs and to learn how to cook.


The cooking recipes are proposed by the beneficiaries and the ingredients necessary are also bought by them. On every Friday, accompanied by the social worker, they go shopping each with his own list with what they need to buy. They are advised on how to find the products and from where and how to buy the ingredients within a fix sum of money. Some of the beneficiaries that attend did not cook or went shopping ever before.


We decided that the cooking, dish washing and serving teams will be changed monthly so more beneficiaries can take part at the activity. The cooking team was responsible with cleaning the kitchen at the end of every day.


The activity is organized in order to teach the users to learn the process of preparing different cooking recipes. Each week they learn how to prepare a dish which they cook twice. On Monday every member of the team is cooking by themselves 2-3 portions of the selected recipe and on Tuesday they are working together practicing what they learned. Then they are cooking for all of the beneficiaries of the Social Center (about 45 people).


On Monday they are learning the technological process, what ingredients are necessary and in what quantity, how much spices the food needs or how much it is supposed to boil. Everybody is cooking a quantity that they could cook alone as home. At the end they each invite 2-3 other beneficiaries to serve what they cooked.


The beneficiaries are motivated and they feel responsible for the way the dish turns out. They feel proud when their guests compliment them. And in order for them not to forget what they learned they write the recipe.


During the 4 month in which the activity took place 20 beneficiaries participated every one of them as being part of a team: cooking, dish washing and serving. The beneficiaries for which the cooking activity was a first participated at it for two months in a row.


They cook a variety of recipes like: tomato soup, meatball soup, dried beans, polenta cheese and cream, pasta pudding with cheese, boiled potatoes with chicken livers, oriental salad, etc.



They also learned how to prepare something sweet, a desert every month like:  cottage cheese pie, pancakes with chocolate cream, fruit salad with ice cream and cream.


This year also Lucian Ionescu coordinated the activity. He is our beneficiary that graduated a cooking course and has a recognized diploma. From that moment he is coordinating the activity under the supervision of a psychologist and a social worker.







The activity turned out to be a success. Every month we have new beneficiarys that want to attend and learn how to cook. The ones that attended so far practiced the recipes also at home. Even if in the beginning of our initiative the families of the beneficiaries were reticent to the ideea now after they have proven what they learned they are helping their mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen.

           The mother of Corina, one of our beneficiaries called in order to thank us for what we had taught her daughter.  Now Corina is responsible for washing the dishes and helps at cleaning the vegetables, activates that she has never done before.


Future Plans


We hope that the activity will continue because the beneficiaries are willing to learn. Next month we plan to buy cabbage in order to put it in a barrel to marinate. Until the middle of December it will turn sour and we will be able to use it in order to prepare special dumplings for Christmas.


                                                         Here are some things said by the beneficiaries

 Monica L.

          “I participated at “Cooking time” where I have learned how to prepare tomato soup with rice, rice pilaf, pie, and to roast vegetables and meat in oil. I liked it so much that I made that I tried to make at home for my boyfriend and I succeeded. I also learned how to wash the dishes and I enjoyed it.

At “Cooking time” I liked the fact that we work as a team and I can ask and talk about what is not clear to me”


Corina C.

“My name is Corina Lucia I am 34 years old and I participated at “Cooking time”. Here I learned how to prepare stuffed peppers and potatoes and meat moussaka. One day when I was home alone I cooked what I learned at the center. When my mother came home she was really surprised and she said that I will be an important help in her kitchen because I managed really well.

At “cooking hour I also liked the team that I have worked with and I would like to keep participating because it makes me feel useful”




Ionescu Lucian, instructor “Cook time”

            „From June until now thanks to our sponsors, the activity at „Cooking time”  was held in good conditions. Starting with a new concept that I would have named „The man and the pot” the four teams have learned for one month the ABC of cooking , following every step in order to prepare a tasteful meal starting with peeling the onion and the potatoes and continuing with roasting them and finishing with mincing and boiling the meat. The main ideea was that every team should learn how to cook at least one type of food (soup, rice, etc) and something sweet (cake, pie, etc). So the recipes were diverse and the participants learn how to cook meatballs, string beans with meat, Mexican rice , apple pie, chicken leaver and mushrooms Milanese spaghetti, etc.

            I hope that the activity will continue in the future because I find it very useful and I like to coordinate it.


Claudia Popescu

Social Center Coordinator






Monica L.