I spent most of college in campus housing. My meals in Missouri and Sydney were mostly prepared for me. (Missouri had a network of dining halls serving thousands a day. Where I lived in Sydney had one chef for lunch and one for dinner, cooking for 50 people at most.) It wasn’t until last August that I had a kitchen of my own, but cooking for myself was something I had been waiting to do.
I started simply. Barbecue chicken breast, baked potato and corn was my first meal in my new house. Pasta with sausage and zucchini, beef fajitas, vegetable pizza — solid, homey meals.
Then Michael started joining me to cook, and by the time we started the blog second semester, we were pooling ingredients, brainstorming and making dinner together nearly every night, constantly trying to outdo ourselves. We had food goals: roast a whole chicken, cook risotto, make pasta from scratch, roll our own sushi. We read books about food and flipped through cookbooks in our downtime. I looked at blogs every day and eagerly awaited food section Wednesdays of national newspapers. All I could think about was food.
This summer I challenged myself to make things most of my friends would never think to make: yogurt, crackers, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, ginger ale. These projects also helped me get better at managing my time in the kitchen so full meals could be prepared more fluidly, even without Michael there to split the tasks.
More and more this year I’ve been thinking about flavors, how they are combined and how they are manipulated. While I’m in Argentina by myself, I have been experimenting more with ingredients I have little to no exprience with. A lot of things are cheaper here, plus I don’t have to worry about ruining dinner for my friends if something doesn’t work out as I hoped.
There’s much more to do, but here are some food feats I’m happy to have accomplished in the last year:
- made sushi rolls with raw tuna
- baked baguettes from scratch
- made cheese
- experimented with homemade ice cream
- made granola
- spatchcocked a chicken (butterflied and grilled whole)
- made homemade pasta *(The dough worked but the machine didn’t so we had inconsistent thickness. This will have to be tried again.)
- made ceviche
- cooked beef tongue (twice!)
- cooked oxtail
- cooked goat (a few different ways)
- made risotto (three times!)
- fried potatoes in duck fat
- made Persian rice with perfect tahdeeg
- fried egg rolls and wontons
- mastered naan bread
- experimented with black rice, purple rice, green rice and red rice
- made mayo
- made a three-layer cake
- cooked fresh leeks, artichokes and beets (but not all together)
- learned to perfectly poach an egg
What are you most proud of culinary-wise, and what’s still on your to-do list?