Novice cooking made easy

Novice cooking made easy

By Katie Drago and Megan Jicha

During your freshman year of college, all the food you need is already prepared and ready for you to devour. But what happens when that year comes to a close? As an upperclassman, you are thrown into a kitchen of your own with only a stove-top and a sink to keep you company. If you are feeling a little culinary-illiterate and you are too proud to call mom for some advice on edibles, the following may serve as a crash course in kitchen know-how.

The Hardware

Fridge: A seemingly obvious kitchen necessity, a refrigerator keeps perishable foods fresh. If you keep your food and drinks in the fridge they will remain cold and will not spoil – which is handy for those who don’t often enjoy consuming rancid meals. Thankfully, most apartments come equipped with a fridge.

Heat-source: Hot plates, microwaves, stove-tops, and ovens are the more common heat-conducting appliances. Depending on what is allowed inside your residence hall they can all be very useful and safe, just be careful not to burn yourself, and always observe building codes.

Knives: Not to be played with, but absolutely crucial in preparing most foods. If you try to slice a roll of pepperoni with a butter knife, it will not end up a pretty sight. Do yourself a favor and buy a nice set of cutting knives.

Blender/Juicer: Blenders are an absolute party necessity. If you are an experimental soul, purchase one of these appliances. If you have some fruit lying around your kitchen, just toss t in and blend them up until you find that perfectly flavored smoothie your taste buds simply adore. These are also necessary for crushing ice, which can come in handy when making assorted drinks in your new living space.

Measuring Utensils: A measuring cup is necessary for those who do not possess innate abilities to determine the exact amount of ingredients necessary. You’ll get by just fine with a measuring cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon.

Spatula: Needed to stir things without using your hands.

Colander (Strainer): Separates food from water. Absolutely necessary for all the macaroni and cheese you will most likely be making.

Can Opener: Manual can openers are needed to open any canned food. Electric can openers are more convenient, but cost a bit more.

Common Cooking Methods

There are three common methods used in everyday cooking, besides heating.

Broiling

A good craftsman always has good tools, and that is the secret to broiling. Be sure to line the pan with aluminum foil so food is easy to turn and clean-up is quick and easy. Broiling usually requires the pan to be close to the heat source, but the only way to see what distance works best is by experimenting.

Steaming

This method is best for cooking vegetables. After placing a steamer in a pot, add water so the water level comes up to just below the bottom of the steamer. Now just add vegetables, cover the pot, turn the heat on high, and let the water boil. Be sure to keep an eye on the food and taste it every once in a while to see if it is done to your liking.

Baking

The first step is to always preheat the oven to the needed temperature. After assembling the meal to be baked, simply place it in the oven and bake at the required temperature.

Students should ensure they are aware of all the cooking utensils and methods before embarking on the journey of cooking. Failure to do so may result in a humorous cooking story like sophomore graphic design major Laura Bernstein’s.

“Once when I tried cooking pancakes, everything seemed to be going well. All the pancakes were edible and good too. However, when I went to go clean up and tried to pull the pan off the stove, I realized the pan had burnt onto the stove. It took hours to clean the stove and unstick the pan, which ended up with two circular marks burnt in. It was not until two weeks later I learned I had used a cookie sheet to cook the pancakes,” Bernstein said.

Now armed with basic culinary education, students new to kitchens should step away from the Easy Mac and try their hand at cooking with these foolproof recopies.

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