We sat side by side pouring over one of those ‘101 Things Every College Kid Should be Able to Cook’ type cookbooks. Neither my cousin, Rachel, nor I are particularly experienced in the kitchen (being much more at home in the dining room). We can make a mean bowl of cereal, a delectable pb&j, and can microwave almost anything, but can we cook? That’s what we set out to discover.
Meal One – Vegetable Lasagna
We ran into a spot of trouble when we realized that we bought olive oil instead of vegetable oil and fresh oregano instead of dried. We just decided to go with it.
We cut and sautéed the vegetables without a problem #crushedit. When it came time to make the cheese sauce, we soon found we didn’t have enough cream cheese. Then while preheating the oven, we discovered that there was no way of telling when the oven was at temperature, or even whether it was on. Again, we just went with it. Notice a theme?
We started layering pasta, veggies, and cheese sauce into a pan, and then realized we didn’t buy the no-boil noodles, and things were probably going to get crunchy. We hoped the veggies and cheese sauce were wet enough that they would kind of boil the noodles in the oven.
The final result — average at best. While the noodles weren’t as crunchy as I was expecting, they were decidedly firm, and the whole thing tasted a bit like lentil vegetable soup with cheese. Also, the lasagna took over an hour to make, so it was a lot of effort for very little reward.
#SpoonTip: If you don’t feel like boiling the noodles before, at least make sure they’re smothered in sauce and then bake the lasagna covered in foil, so the liquid stays in and cooks the noodles.
Meal Two – Horseradish-Crusted Salmon and Asparagus
As much as the previous night of cooking was a struggle, this night was a breeze. After taking a little bit to figure out the recipe (I’m telling you, this cookbook was weird) we were off.
Both Rachel and I hate handling raw protein, but she took one for the team, and after making a disgusting-looking-but-delicious-tasting horseradish sour cream combo, she placed the fish on an oven safe tray. We coated the fish with the horseradish and breadcrumbs and into the oven it went.
Then we grilled some asparagus on a super hot griddle on the stove and salted to perfection. Midway through, we realized that the bag of salad we had bought was rotten, so throwing that out we moved on to plan B, tomato feta salad with leftover tomatoes from the lasagna.
All said and done, it took us much less time than the lasagna and was much tastier too. Who would have thought that fish would be easier than lasagna? Regardless, we had just successfully cooked our first adult meal, and were damn proud of it.
#SpoonTip: For great roasted or grilled vegetables, cut up the vegetables and put them in a produce bag. Pour in some olive oil and salt, and then shake the bag so the veggies are evenly coated. Then, to roast, put them on a tray and stick it in the oven, and to grill stick on the grill.
Meal Three – Avocado Tomato Egg Scramble
Fresh from the roaring success of our fish, we got a bit cocky and didn’t even use a recipe for this meal. Rest assured, it turned out well. We cracked and whisked (or, more accurately, forked) our eggs, added a splash of milk, and poured them into the pan. After letting the eggs set a little, we added the cut up tomato, avocado, and cheese, and commenced scrambling.
#SpoonTip: If you want to add harder vegetables, like onion or broccoli, or if you want to add a meat product, like sausage, to your scramble, be sure to sauté those first before adding the eggs.
It was another quick and easy day of cooking, which I suppose is how you know you’re doing it right.
All in all, cooking with Rachel was a great experience. It was incredibly fun and mostly delicious. If we can figure out how to cook, anyone can. With that said, here are some tips before you embark on your culinary journey:
– Have a poppin’ playlist to get you through those times you thought it was going to take 30 minutes but it actually took 90.
– Read the recipe several times before even making a grocery list. If it sounds super funky, maybe consider finding another one.
– Make sure you have all the necessary tools before starting. We didn’t have any liquid measuring cups/spoons and luckily our eyeballing worked out.
– Find a friend. It’s so much more fun to cook with a buddy.