After my sophomore year of college, I moved off-campus and into a house. I had been guaranteed housing for all years of college but because of a rather large incoming freshman class, all students above sophomore year had to live off-campus. Living off campus made paying for a meal plan seem superfluous so that was cut and I had to figure out how to survive on my own without a meal plan. Adios, Taco Tuesday. Later Gator, Mac ‘n Cheese Wednesday.
Learning to cook was one challenge I faced that semester. Juggling a pantry + fridge space with six other people was another. My culinary adventures were significantly limited by the fact that I just couldn’t fit more than a handful of items into my designated spot at a time. Long story short: I ate a LOT of steamed broccoli and brown rice with Sriracha. Cannot emphasize A LOT enough.
After a year, I moved into an apartment with only two girls so my fridge space and recipe exploration grew considerably. I resolved to teach myself to cook and along the process, I learned to love it. After all, I rely on myself to create a meal I’ll enjoy eating for 3 meals’ worth. Why not love creating + tasting the dish?
Teaching myself to cook is still an on-going process but learning the techniques and several simple dishes has made all the different. I love watching Food Network for ideas and inspiration but when I need to go back to the basics, I rely on my favorite cookbooks:
1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child: It sounds totally intimidating but I promise this cookbook was written for the most amateur of at-home chefs. Julia is there for ya, babe. And if you don’t believe me, watch Julie +Julia on Google Play, one of my favorite movies OF ALL TIME. Though nowadays, Julie’s blog would be way different. But that’s another post. I have a lot of thoughts on that movie.
2. Foolproof by Ina Garten: This is the perfect cookbook for the chef who’s mastered the basics but wants to try out impressive-sounding recipes. In Foolproof, there are delicious recipes to whip up German chocolate cake AND lobster mac ‘n cheese. I will admit as much as I love Ina, some of her recipes call for hard-to-find or pricey ingredients so make sure you read the recipe thoroughly before trying it out! Speaking from experience…
3. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer: Joy of Cooking is the absolute classic when it comes to cooking and will help you through all the cooking questions and musings you have when you are starting out.
4. I Heart Trader Joe’s Cookbook by Cherie Twohy: Before you even set foot in the kitchen, you have to figure your way through the grocery store. I first went to Trader Joe’s post-sophomore year when sophomores and above were kicked off campus. For being such a small store in terms of space, Trader Joe’s intimidated the ever-living daylights out of me. Flipping through the I Heart Trader Joe’s Cookbook helped me learn some tasty dishes as well as learn about ingredients at Trader Joe’s – and which ones were pantry powerhouses.
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