Hometown: Green Mountain, Iowa (Population: 100. No joke.)
Major: Manufacturing and design engineering
Grocery shops at: D&D
Always has in the kitchen: Cottage cheese and jalapeño chips
How did you learn to cook?
My mom mostly taught me. I was in 4-H* when I was in junior high with a lot of my friends — 4-H is pretty big in Iowa. A lot of people raise livestock, but since I don’t live on a farm I did a lot of baking projects. I also did some woodworking. So that’s pretty much how I learned the basics, and then last year when I moved into my own apartment, I ended up cooking a lot for my roommate and myself, which also gave me a lot of practice.
*What’s 4-H? A youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA that works to engage youth in hands-on learning activities in the areas of science, healthy living and food security.
How often do you cook?
Probably two or three times a week. I used to cook every night, but now I make stuff in bigger batches and save it.
What’s your favorite thing about cooking?
I just like knowing everything that you’re putting into your dish. Also, when you make something and it actually tastes good, just being able to say that you made it is really satisfying.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
Probably chili. I cut up a couple of peppers and an onion, cook some meat and then throw it all in
a big pot with beans.
Where do you get your recipes?
A lot of times when I make stuff, I kind of look at a couple of recipes online and then sort of mash them all together. I never really look at physical cookbooks, and I don’t really use any website or blog specifically other than “Cooking Comically,” which is pretty cool — they write up comic strips of recipes. Also, sometimes I get recipes from my mom. Like there’s this pie she makes that I really like — apple custard pie.
What do you do if a recipe looks too hard?
Usually if it looks too complicated or if I know I won’t be able to get the ingredients, I’ll just do it
anyway without some of those ingredients. It’s fun to try new stuff, even if it seems scary, and see what you can make of it.
Best dessert you’ve made?
Last year we found this recipe for Oreo ice cream cake. It’s just ice cream, whipped cream and crushed up Oreos, and then you just throw it in the freezer. My roommate and I ate
a lot of that last year.
Any advice for our readers?
I think a lot of people in general are afraid to cook, just because they don’t think they’ll be that good at it or it won’t taste good. Obviously when you start cooking it won’t always taste great, but you just made that food so you’ll probably eat it anyways. It’s all a matter of practice,
really. If you are willing to try out different recipes and maybe fail sometimes, you’re more likely to find out what you like to cook, something that’s easy for you to make and that you
also enjoy eating.
Will’s Chili Recipe
Total Time: 60 minutes
2 lbs ground beef
½ onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cholula hot sauce, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Brown beef with 1 tablespoon of oil in pan over medium-high heat. Break up meat into small pieces. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Sauté peppers and onions in remaining tablespoon of oil in large pot over medium heat, about 3 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, beans and browned meat to pot.
4. Add hot sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Simmer for about half an hour with lid ajar, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve in large bowl with shredded cheese on top and saltines. (I like to scoop it with jalapeño kettle chips.)