Quarantine Cooking

Quarantine Cooking

Actors turn kitchen into their own stage


Editor’s Note: A new YouTube show, “Cover to Cover Cooking,” created by local actors Sarah Mouritsen and Charles Riedmueller, inspired not just this feature but a series of stories about hobbies people have undertaken while quarantined at home by covid-19. During July and August, we’re going to learn about bird watching, bee keeping, bicycling, dog training, fine art painting and who knows what else! Come back to this space next week to find out what Paul Haas, conductor of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, is buzzing about.


Northwest Arkansas audiences know Sarah Mouritsen as the multi-talented and versatile actress and singer who has portrayed Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” Cinderella in “Into the Woods” and Trixie the Usherette in “The Rocky Horror Show.” She also took on the different and demanding role of the pushy, overly protective mother in Arkansas Public Theatre’s “A Kid Like Jake” — where she coincidentally performed opposite regional theater veteran Charles Riedmueller.

Sometimes things go wrong in the kitchen — and that’s half the fun for Sarah Mouritsen, who is making a YouTube cooking show with her boyfriend, Charlie Riedmueller.

Surely the two thought dating would mean hours and days and weeks of doing theater together — until the covid-19 pandemic rolled into town, shutting down performances just after Mouritsen closed “Into the Woods” at the Arts Center of the Ozarks. Instead, the couple found themselves playing in the kitchen — and recording their adventures for a YouTube channel they call “Cover to Cover Cooking.”

“Charlie and I had decided about a month before we even started filming that we were going to cook our way through a cookbook,” Mouritsen explains. “We just didn’t know which one. When I was looking on the internet for a good cookbook, it was really hard to pick one without actually being able to see the pictures or the recipes, so we made a trip to Barnes & Noble — masked up, of course — and looked through several books until we found Christopher Kimball’s ‘Milk Street: The New Home Cooking Cookbook.’

“We were really just going to do it for ourselves and document through pictures on our personal Facebook pages,” she continues. Until “about three weeks after we got the book, we were sitting on the couch, and I said, ‘What if we filmed our experiences with cooking the recipes from the cookbook?” We instantly agreed, and we got started.”

Riedmueller says although he’s “no expert,” he too loves to cook.

“I have a few stand-by single guy meals that I would make for myself: spaghetti, soux vide steaks and pork loins — we still make those pretty regularly — stews or roasts in the crock pot. Generally things I can make a lot of and eat for a few days.”

Time in the kitchen with Mouritsen has been both fun and challenging, he adds.

“It is a small kitchen, so generally we don’t like sharing it! One or the other works best generally, or we tend to run into each other a lot — you can see that in some of the videos,” he says, laughing. “But the project is a great combination of her love of performing and cooking with my interest in directing, editing and playing with tech gadgets.”

As far as his goals for the videos, Riedmueller’s answer is simple; he just wants to have fun. Besides, he says, “I know lots of people will find Sarah as adorable as I do.”

Mouritsen grew up in Fayetteville and credits her grandmother with inspiring her to “be a good baker and artsy person.”

“She was always making treats for the holidays, and I loved to watch her work and help as much as I could,” Mouritsen remembers. “She taught me how to knit on Thanksgiving of 2011. I was watching my grandma and aunt knit, and I wanted to learn. She cast on a row for me and showed me the basic knit stitch. I went home that day and taught myself everything I know, and I am continuing to learn — and that is what I love about cooking and the arts. There is always new information out there just waiting to be learned.”

Mouritsen says when she got her first apartment, “I wanted to be able to make homemade food for the people I love. I got some hand-me-down cookbooks from my grandma, and those are my go-to books if I ever just need a really solid recipe. But these days, there are so many amazing sources on the internet that those books don’t get as much use as they once did. I didn’t really have a mentor per se. I really just kind of experimented and tried to see what I could push myself to do for next time.

“Baking always appealed to me because there is a sort of science to it,” Mouritsen goes on. “You put something in the oven with no idea how it will turn out, and you pull out these masterpieces. Sometimes! There’s definitely been a learning curve, and I’ve definitely had to throw some stuff away. But I am always working.

“Charlie actually bought me a KitchenAid mixer after we had been together for a few months, and that’s when I really discovered my love for making bread.”

Mouritsen calls sourdough her first big success in the kitchen as an adult.

“I was so nervous about making it! Is the starter at a good point? Is it alive? Did I ferment enough? There are so many what-ifs when it comes to sourdough. But, man the first time — well, maybe not the first time, but the second time — I pulled those loaves out of the oven and the smell! I knew that I had really mastered something. That was when I truly felt proud of what I was doing.”

Mouritsen and Riedmueller let their home assistant Alexa choose their first recipe for the cooking channel by picking a page in the cookbook, and Burmese Chicken was the first effort. Mouritsen says she wanted to be able to buy all her ingredients locally at Walmart or Harps Food Stores, and that meant figuring out things like lemon grass — which, it turns out, comes in a jar if you can’t find it fresh. She also made one portion with cilantro — for Charlie — and one without it for her because to her cilantro tastes like soap.

The first video is light and funny, and Mouritsen isn’t afraid to say she doesn’t know, isn’t sure or is concerned. But viewers can almost smell the amazingly appetizing result.

By Episode 2, Mouritsen is totally comfortable on camera, and she’s making not only Central Mexican Guacamole from the cookbook but a second version of her own choosing — minus cilantro — “because I want to be able to eat guacamole.”

“We have four that are shot and edited [and] two others that we are working on editing right now,” Mouritsen says of “Cover to Cover Cooking.” “As we both have full-time jobs, we try to film and edit when we can, and we keep a few in the bank so that there will always be an episode ready to release on Mondays.”

Mouritsen believes anyone can learn to cook. To start, she says, figure out a favorite dish to create.

“It’s always more fun when you are cooking something that you really want to eat at the end,” she says. “Find a recipe and read it. Make sure you have all of the tools you will need, and then just give it a shot. And the best thing I can say is don’t give up. Sometimes the first iteration just doesn’t turn out quite right. It took me about four or five tries to get pie crust right. So I promise that eventually you will get it.

Even now, “I really struggle with making cakes,” she admits. “Seriously, I have made so many, and I never get it right on the first try. I will never give up though. I will keep on keeping on.”


Go Online!

The Show

“Cover to Cover Cooking” can be seen on YouTube.

The Cookbook

Christopher Kimball’s “Milk Street: The New Home Cooking Cookbook,” available wherever you buy books.

Categories: Cover Story