Archive for category Culinary Trials
Be honest. Is there anything better than rocking out to the intro to Smoke On the Water? I thought not. Unless you’re rocking out to Star Wars. There are musical priorities after all.
So my past few days have been pleasantly busy with a few moments of hilarity here and there. Tuesday I battled one of our invading pantry moths. Although I won the war, I think it won the battle. I managed to jam my finger against the floor, and it is only today that the swelling looks to be mostly gone. Wednesday I attempted the fried rice recipe – despite the total lack of measurements.
I’m a logical person, who thrives on directions, especially when cooking. The whole idea of “just throw some of this and some of that in” seems like a catastrophe waiting to happen. Cooking is a science after all! Science requires precision! Except when it doesn’t. I looked at the process as an experiment, and dove in. First, I had to have one of my roommates teach me how to make rice. This may seem like a basic, self-explanatory process of a 2:1 ratio of water:rice. But I’d never cooked real rice, and had no idea how much to cook in order to make fried rice for myself for a few days and my housemates. 1.5 cups was “thrown in” and away I went. I cooked some scrambled eggs, the first time I’d attempted this process successfully! After which, I fried some onions, mixed in some peas and chinese sausage and then carefully poured in the cooked rice to fry it all together. Slight problem: my pan was not nearly large enough to actually fry the whole batch. So I spent 15 minutes carefully turning it over and over to hopefully get it fried “like in stir fry.” Full disclosure: I’ve never made stir fry. I only remember watching my father make it when I was a child. Eventually it smelled done-ish? and so I poured in the final ingredients: soy sauce and scallions for some more frying. At least by this time, it was starting to smell as I remembered, so I figured I was on the right track. I carefully kept stirring, hoping that the constant movement wasn’t creating some unmanageable chain reaction that would turn my rice into a ball of nothingness or create the food-bomb in my own kitchen. When I realized that the rice was starting to burn, I figured that was a good enough reason to pull it off the stove. It tasted largely like it was supposed to, and now I have another recipe to add to my repertoire!
I didn’t go dancing this past week, something I intend to remedy next week. However, I am beginning the process of volunteering for Girl Scouts again. There is a small group of Simmons students who want to help troops grow at one of the local schools, and I’ve volunteered to start a Brownie troop. It’s been ages since I’ve been actively involved in GS, but surely all the old skills will come back quickly! I’m trying not to get my hopes up, since I still have to hear from our headquarters’s liaison whether or not there is enough interest to start a troop, but I’m already planning activities and events and ways to start dissecting negative behavior that is apparent in that school. GS was such a huge part of my growing up, and I’m so excited to give that kind of experience to others who need the opportunities that GS provides.
In short, it’s October, and life is getting busy-busy!
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