Monday, August 15, 2016

Talking the time to talk over tea: cooking for colleagues

Sharing a meal with a colleague can be therapeutic.

Something’s cooking at SAT and we need your help. 

The idea for this project came about when one of us was travelling home from a colleague’s funeral. Being a veterinarian can be a very tough job. Being a new graduate is uniquely stressful which is why there are excellent mentoring schemes, like various university mentoring programs for final year students (of which I am involved with one), and the Australian Veterinary Association’s mentoring scheme.

Being an experienced practitioner brings its own stressors, whether these are practice ownership, the ever increasing complexity of life, burnout or higher expectations of ourselves or others. While there are now some support structures for veterinary students and recent graduates, experienced practitioners may feel very isolated at times. Sometimes the best thing you can do is drop in for a cuppa with a colleague. A problem shared is a problem halved. A problem shared over food is a problem minus hypoglycaemia, which is bound to be better. Being stressed is bad enough, but everything’s worse when you’re hangry.

Imagine being greeting by these stuffed peppers after an intense evening of consults.
So “we” got the idea of collecting recipes and are building an editorial team. (We so far being myself, veterinary nurse and cook Asti May and an editorial team including veterinarian and food blogger Dr Deepa Gopinath).

Not everyone is a card-carrying chef, but there are a few people out there with a recipe or two up their sleeve. Something that makes them or others feel better. Something that’s fun to prepare for and/or with others. Something that gives you strength to get through the next massive procedure or session of consults. Something to bring people together (even those who, like one of the editors, are not known for their cooking). The aim is to raise awareness of the need to look out for each other, promote collegiality, have a fun and yes, enjoy some feel-good-calories along the way.

The aim is to compile and then publish this collection in some form, that form to be determined by the volume and nature of contributions received.

  • We’re looking for original recipes, but you’re welcome to share variations on known recipes. Please don’t copy any recipes out of books or other sources (e.g. online), and please acknowledge the inspiration behind any recipes (e.g. “adapted from…);
  • Non-vets are welcome to contribute – we’ve already had some interest from clients, friends and family of vets;
  • Try to keep it simple (not everyone is going to have edible flowers or gold leaf handy);
  • Co-written contributions welcome and encouraged;
  • Context is important. If you happened to learn this recipe when chatting to a client over a field surgery or because someone gifted you a tonne of pumpkins for treating their cat, please share the story! If it tastes best when consumed in front of a fire after (or before) a ten-hour shift, we need to know!
  • If it doesn’t fit into a category we can always make another category.

  • Treats to have with a cuppa
  • Things you can whip up in the staff room to boost morale between consults
  • Main meals and accompaniments
  • Snacks to get you through the day
  • More substantial dessert-type-treats & special occasions
  • Special occasions
  • Food for non-human companions
  • Veterinary themed snacks (because we know there will be endless variations of the cat litter tray cake…)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages

I am assured these beauties were simple to make.
To submit, simply email vetcookbook [at] and we will send you a submission template. Just follow the very simple formatting guidelines and send in by December 31.

We’re asking for a photo (or several) to accompany the recipe. Photos are even better if they include a) vets, nurses or vet students cooking; b) a serving suggestion (e.g. with matching beverage); c) animals. We fully acknowledge that this requirement may mean you need to make your dish, share it with friends and colleagues and enjoy yourself. Hurrah! There needs to be more of this in this world.

Once Phase 1 (the gathering of recipes) is complete we’ll move into Phase 2 which is turning this into a book. Any proceeds will be donated to veterinary mental health charities.

We’re really excited about this project and hope to bring you some updates and sample recipes soon.