I will be the first to admit that I’m not very self sufficient in the “living alone” department. All through my childhood and teen years, my mom and dad were there looking after me. My mom especially. And when my mom wasn’t there, there was always someone there taking care of me. Mom woke me up for school, made my pre-game pancakes, packed my lunch, knew where my basketball shoes were, washed all of my stinky and sweaty jerseys and socks and took care of all my sprains, pulls, tears and ouchies. I’m an independent being, there is a lot in this world that I can do well on my own without instruction, but when it comes down to actually taking care of the basics of simply living, I suck. What’s worse is that I’ve been on my own off and on since 2005 and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of not having my mom around.
Case in point: When getting reading for rugby games I used to have to call home so that my mom could help me go over my list of things I needed or guaranteed, I was forgetting something important like my socks or, God’s forbid, my actual rugby boots.
However, the worst of my transgressions in the “living alone” department fall under the category of “cooking”. Not only will I be the first to admit that I suck at living alone, but I will also be the first to admit that I can’t cook very well. I mean, I know how to cook the basics like scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, mushroom soup (Cambell’s out of a can!), Kraft Dinner, spaghetti and chili, but beyond all of that, I’m pretty useless. If I have to stick something in the oven, I’m probably burning it. If I have to fry something in a pan, I’m probably setting it on fire. If I have to boil it in a pot, I’m probably going to burn my hand some way and some how. The only real safe way for me too cook is to either be directly supervised or to make it in the microwave.
Which has led me to being an excellent microwave chef. I’m pretty sure that I have attempted to cook everything I’ve come across in the microwave. Eggs? Yeah, I’m a pro at tasty microwave omlettes. Fries? It’s often quicker than the oven. Pizza? I prefer soggy pizza and it’s quicker than the oven. Soup? It’s quicker and therefore tastier from the microwave. Pasta? I have cooked enough spaghetti to feed 13 people in my dorms just by using a microwave.
Aside from my shenanigans with a microwave, I’ve managed to set grilled cheese on fire (Age 16 – element caught on fire so I flipped the pan with my sammich over to smother the flame and made it worse), as well as several pizzas (Ages 14-23 – the worst was when it was just two little Mini Pizza’s that spontaneously combusted). I’ve also wound up with funny tasting soup (Age 21 – I no longer add strange beans to my soup), pancakes that cook to the pan (Ages 20-24 – Most recently when I tried to add banana slices to my recipe), and cake that’s black on the outside and still runny in the middle (Age 19 – I tried to make one from scratch to surprise my boyfriend…he was still surprised, but it was by the mess I made). I’ve seen some of the stuff I’m cooking randomly start itself on fire, congeal into one giant weird mass of BLOB and even just avoid being properly cooked and head straight into the land of “It’s so burnt I couldn’t use it as a weapon because that would be unnecessarily cruel”.
However, I am now the ripe old age of 24 and am quickly heading towards that quarter of a century mark, so I figure it’s time I learned how to cook. Or cook more than Kraft Dinner and soup out of a can. Sadly this past semester and next semester I will remain microwave-less which means my options for quick eats is down to what I can make the will leave enough leftovers for me to eat. Plus salad and a lot of tater tots. That’s not overly healthy though, so I’ve been looking for some slightly better options in the cooking department where I can make quick and easy dishes that will last me beyond one meal. Ideally, I’d probably make something for lunch and then eat the rest for dinner later or eat something for dinner and have the rest for lunch the next day. Now, I also know that I’m very scatterbrained and tend to either get wrapped up in a good book, doing homework or just about anything that I find more enjoyable than cooking, so I know everything I make has to be quick or I have to be able to stick it in the oven for a period of time and not watch it every second that it’s cooking.
Thankfully, I’ve started to master roasted chicken and potatoes and chicken/turkey/beef/moose stew, but I can only eat that stuff so much before I get sick of it. I also realize that more often than not, I’m going to be eating Sapporo noodles or Cambell’s Mushroom Soup because it’s quick and easy so I probably should be able to cook somewhat healthy sides that I can nomnomnom on to balance out my diet. Again, I’ll be the first to say that my diet last semester sucked. I lived off of mostly canned soup, Kraft Dinner, pizza, tater tots and oranges. This led to my generally not eating because I just got sick of cooking the only foods that I really know how to safely cook without setting my home on fire or poisoning myself.
Therefore, I am entering next semester fully armed with 5 new recipes that will hopefully spice up my feeding regimen and a cool iPod app that will let me look up more good feeding ideas as I truck my way through what will probably be the most boring semester in the history of me. So far I have a neat recipe for BBQ Pulled Chicken, a Greek Salad sammich idea, a recipe for ground turkey (or moose meat in my case) calzones and a neat smoothie recipe as well.
They’re all fairly easy recipes, don’t seem to be overly difficult to make and hopefully won’t lead to me burning any arm hairs off or somehow exploding dough all over the room. Though…next semester isn’t here yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.
What are some of your favorite and quick recipes you love?