The start of a new school year is upon us and I can’t help but think back to when I first left home for college. I had packed everything I thought I needed. Little did I know that I had no idea. None whatsoever. Lucky for me, I had unknowingly been well-prepared.
As a child, I was blessed. Blessed with wonderful, intelligent parents who surrounded me and my brother with wonderful,intelligent people with all kinds of amazing skills. The skill of cooking, though, came from my mother. She was always the cook in our circle of family and friends. Her skills were only outdone by the elder women in the family like my grandmothers and my great-grandmother. Fortunatley for me, I inherited this talent for cooking.
Which came in super handy when I ran out of that small town as fast as I could and went to college.
In the 10 years ( 10 years?!) since that fateful day when my dad threatened to send me by bus instead of letting me drive to college, I have come to notice that the talent for cooking does not always come naturally or willingly and most of the time young adults just don’t know where to start.
Of course, when you live in a dorm room, all you can have is a microwave and a refrigerator, but once you move into that first rental apartment you have no idea what the hell you are supposed to arm yourself with in case Brad Pitt stops by for a quiet dinner. So I thought maybe I should do a quick post on the basic things a 20 year old needs when faced with the fact that no one is there to cook you dinner. If you are not a 20 year old, maybe you could pass this on to a 20 year old you know somewhere.
I can assure you that there is someone out there right now who is planning their escape from the dorm room that houses the weirdest, most obnoxious roommate in the world who’s closet smells of old cheese and only listens to Britney Spears.( I swear I’m not talking of anyone in particular)
So, okay, here is what the newly released-to-the-wild young adult is going to need to cook pretty much everything in. It’s just a few things and you can get them pretty cheap.
First! Pots and Pans – The 300 piece calphalon set looks nice but it’s out of your price range ( wait until you get married for that). You really only need 3 pots and 3 pans. You’ll need a skillet, a dutch oven, and a saucepan and a 9×13 baking pan, a round pizza pan, and a aluminum cookie sheet ( for cookies).That’s it. You can cook mac-n-cheese, eggs, soup, and hamburgers all in those 3 pots and your mother’s lasagna in the pans.
Utensils! – Besides forks and knives ( and chopsticks for ambiance when you get Chinese takeout), you are going to need other basic tools. A whisk, a chefs knife, a spatula, wooden spoons, a ladle, a box grater and tongs. No more, no less. WAIT! And a can opener. I almost forgot.
Measuring Thingies – A liquid measuring cup ( can also double as a soup bowl), a set of dry measuring cups, and some measuring teaspoons. They may seem useless now, but I’m telling you, one day you are going to need to know how much a teaspoon is exactly.
Bowls – You know, big ones. They are great for cereal, soup, and mixing things in to impress Brad Pitt. I like metal and ceramic ones, but get whatever you want. On second thought, make sure you get some that are microwave safe.
As for a spartan pantry, make sure there is always rice, potatoes, and pasta, A few jars of spaghetti sauce, a bottle of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and some canned tuna and you can make a meal fit for any hangover any time of the day or night.
Most of all, when you finally move into that place that is all yours, enjoy it. Be careful, be safe, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Happy school year!!!