Culinary Experimentation

So one of the more exciting things about being in grad school is the daily question: What do I eat?

This is a challenge. I am a poor grad student lacking a job, so I have to eat healthily within my budget of about $25-30/week. It’s doable, but it requires me to Make food, instead of just eating things that come out of boxes. I survived quite well on very little when I was in Dublin by myself, but I also only lived on cereal, pasta, apples and ham and cheese sandwiches for nine months. I decided before I moved that I just couldn’t put my body through that kind of pathetic variation in diet this time around.

Which means I have to cook.

Which historically I’ve Hated doing.

I started slowly, mastering the art of oatmeal and raisins. I’ve slowly started adding other interesting dishes such as soup and pasta to my repertoire, with larger forays into big meals. On my birthday I made a delicious pot of green beans, pasta, and homemade chicken alfredo sauce! I didn’t poison anyone, and the sauce was a huge hit. My largest success was a few nights later when I tried to heat up the leftover sauce, and found that doing so (on the stove) made the butter melt out of the cheese and I was left with a gloopy mess. I persevered, and against all internal judgments, I closed my eyes and poured leftover buttermilk into the mess and added some more cheese and POOF! I had more delicious alfredo sauce.

Since then, I’ve made chicken pot pie, brown betty, and the ultimate “just throw things together” concoction: apple dumplings with leftover crust from the chicken pot pie. So far nothing has been inedible, and most things I’ve been willing to try again in the future. The minor issues, such as burning the bread while making a tuna melt tonight, have not been inedible either. But, I still have the difficulty of thinking about what I want to eat, making sure I have the necessary ingredients within my budget, and then motivating myself to spend an hour cooking instead of just pouring more oatmeal into the pot. It’s a process.

Next recipe to try: Grace’s Fried Rice

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