20-Something Home Cooking Insta: The Sweetest Place Left on the ‘Gram

A look into the sweet side of instagram with Hannah Polinski.

When the pandemic first began in March and people were forced indoors, two things became even hotter commodities: one was Instagram documentation on a very micro level, and the other was cooking/baking (or both). While this may sound like a recipe for culinary success, I ended up annoying all my friends with constant enthusiastic vegetable posts and worsening my eating anxiety due to all the time I spent thinking about food. Eventually, I decided to expel my food thoughts into a separate account, which brought me to the world of 20-something home cooking Instagram. Home cooking insta is a place where mostly young womxn share their kitchen creations, holding space between a visual food journal and a Finsta. However, this is not your average foodie account; the community is distinguished by filter-free photos that grace your feed without the forced “authenticity” of food influencer blogs. I can post any low quality shot of my fried rice, update the status of my fridge fermented pickles, or talk about my food therapist on any particular day and be met with support and love from other cooking accounts. A lot of kombucha and sourdough starter knowledge is passed around, and recipes are shared between accounts with the intention of helping one another to eat better.

I had a lil chat with two active users of at home cooking insta, who both happened to be named Molly (@veganish.molly, and @umamimolly respectively). Other first names are permitted on food insta, but these lovely food lovers shared a little about their IG cuisine journey with me.

Hannah: When and why did you start your food account? What do you post?

Molly: I started my food account back in January just to share my fave recipes with friends. I'd always wanted to create a food account but was timid at first cause there weren't many people doing it. Now my account is helping me heal from an eating disorder.

Molly: I began my food account the summer of 2017 right after my 1st year of university. I had recently become vegetarian and I wanted a place to specifically post about my vegetarian cooking experiments. Throughout university, the account became a much needed creative outlet to contrast seemingly endless and sometimes mind-numbing assignments. I’m no longer vegetarian or in university, but this account has been especially fun for me to upkeep throughout the pandemic.

Hannah: How would you describe our Home Cooking community?

Molly: I'd describe the community as inspiring, creative, and authentic.

Molly: Open, friendly, creative, and constructive are the first words that come to Mind.

Hannah: What have you gotten out of home cooking insta?

Molly: Home cooking insta has helped me rediscover the joy of cooking and eating to nourish my body. I’m constantly being introduced to new cuisines, ingredients, and food histories that have greatly enriched my home cooking.

Molly: My food ig served me well as a creative outlet when I was in uni, but during the pandemic it’s been such a source of joy to find other like-minded 20-something home bakers and cooks. Prior to the pandemic, active but chill food accounts that weren’t high-profile ~food influencers~ seemed few and far between.

Hannah: Do you think our home cooking insta community is different than other food communities online?

Molly: Despite the mix of diets (vegan, veg, gluten free, etc) we all come together over a shared love of food and cooking. At the end of the day, counting calories, diet culture, and food shame are gone, creating space for genuine connection through food. While posts may look perfect, chefs open up about their struggles whether that be in or outside the kitchen. Ultimately,promoting an authenticity uncommon in other communities. There's no sense of competition for followers or shares; we are all in this together, just doing what we love.

Molly: I’d definitely say we are distinct from other online food communities in that most 20-something home cooking accounts are extremely open and welcoming, and that there really isn't a precursor other than enjoying baking and/or cooking. Performance is and will always be a large part of social media, but it feels like it’s slightly less central to a lot of 20-something cooking accounts and that has been really refreshing. I don't think many of us are actively trying to be famous or food influencers. We’re just having fun!

Hannah: What are your favourite things to make?

Molly: Right now I love making soft scrambled eggs with miso butter! It's simple but paired with some leek & potato hash or crusty bread; it's divine. I went into my account being strictly vegan and terrified of eggs and meat. But seeing so many people develop recipes with love and seeing delicious photos has made so many "fear foods" more approachable and enjoyable again.

Molly: I’ve been baking bread as a hobby for 8 years now and specifically sourdough for 1.5 years, so that’s obviously a fav. I love to create interesting cookie recipes (a friend and I actually have a side project for this called Kuketista!), and I’ve been really into learning more about Palestinian cooking and baking lately.

I began baking bread in my early teens as a way to cope with anxiety. It still serves as an effective way to deal with my anxiety, and I think a huge reason why bread baking became massively popular at the beginning of quarantine is because other people realized how therapeutic it is. I like how maintaining a sourdough starter feels similar to having a low maintenance pet— it's the reasonable level of commitment (for me at least) and it's fun to see it change as it matures. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see how just a handful of inexpensive ingredients combined with the right environment and technique transforms into something so beautiful, nourishing, and delicious.

Hannah: Any general thoughts on food insta you want to add?

Molly: Being a part of this food community has drastically reshaped my food + body relationship. Ever since we shared photos and mini bios about ourselves, there's been a huge shift in openness. I'm seeing more accounts open up about their disordered eating habits and lives and it's helped normalize the conversation around eating disorders. I started out just complimenting people on their recipes, very surface level stuff. And I still do that, don't get me wrong, but now there's more words of support and upliftment as we're all worthy of cooking and eating foods that nourish our bodies.

Molly: I feel like I’ve already said so much with these other questions! I guess I’m just grateful to have stumbled upon this little community of like-minded home cooks & bakers during the pandemic. It's been a rare cute moment in an ugly year.

Hannah Polinski's Tip Jar ☕ - coming soon