You could argue that I can cook, however there is an even bigger argument against it. To put it lightly, you’d think twice before eating anything I’ve prepared, to say the least.
I live a hundred miles away from home, or 104 for those who really care about the last four. This distance suggests that I’m not going to be travelling back home every night for my mum’s cooking, and instead have to survive with meals I have prepared myself and that’s exactly what’s been happening – most nights so far.
I began by cooking simply, quite literally. I cooked pasta with cheese.
It was almost a macaroni and cheese dish, but, with penne pasta instead. And sandwich style slices of cheddar cheese. The most adventurous part of the meal, was that split second when the pepper was mixed in. It was an exciting moment…
Four nights later, I decided that pasta and cheese wasn’t going to help me survive through university and so I decided to try a new device. A machine I had not even considered using before. What looked like a manual for the entire kitchen sat on top, so I flicked through to see how the microwave works. Page after page and no sign of anything except cleaning instructions. I flipped the appliance over and took the various details to find the instructions on the internet.
1. Plug the appliance into the mains socket on the wall but keep the power off.
It wasn’t very specific. We had four plugs, on two possible walls. I guessed that it would mean something appropiate, so I plugged it in and continued.
2. Put the food into the microwave.
The manual was starting to get a little cocky now, I still hadn’t chosen my food at this point and it was asking me to put it into the microwave? I finally took my pizza out of the freezer and ripped the packaging off.
3. Close the door.
It was getting silly now – until it decided to show off and give me the next set in one go.
4. Select the timer to the time required, noting that any time under 2 minutes will require a full turn before selecting the time in seconds. Select the required power and turn the appliance on at the wall.
I followed all of those instructions and like magic, the microwave flashed with a yellow glow and made a buzzing noise. I didn’t know hot to stop the machine from going! I scrolled up and down the manual, hoping to find a solution, incase the microwave was about to explode. Not until afterwards, that I realised it was nowhere near exploding, just that this model was known for making unexpected victims jump.
The little ping let me know that my pizza was ready and away I ate it.
After a caring phone call from my mom, we thought it would be a bad idea to eat microwave pizza (the safe option) every night for what could be five years, so instead she suggested that I tried a pasta bake. I knew how to cook pasta, and I knew how to grate cheese. The only thing I had never done before, was cook chicken and make my own sauce.
This would be a big step for me, having only ever squirted bottled BBQ sauce onto everything edible.
I began by collecting the tools for the job, lining them all along my worktop. Two saucepans, a frying pan, a colander, various knives and chopping boards, a grater and other utensils that I can’t name. Mom knows what it’s called though.
I checked my ingredients, only to realise I needed milk. I hadn’t got any milk anymore, as one of my flatmates had helped himself to some without replacing it or even letting me know. I popped round to the local store and picked up the smallest bottle, before beginning on the pasta.
A large saucepan, half filled with pasta began to cook on the hob while a frying pan of chicken began to whiten. It was going well so far, with only a couple of minutes left, I opened the sauce sachet and mixed it with the milk. I poured the exact amount specified on the sachet before adding just a tiny bit more to help the dust dissolve better.
I put the saucepan on the hob, as the pasta was finished cooking. That went through the colander and back into the saucepan with a ‘dash’ of oil, what ever amount that was meant to be, before adding my much loved pepper. The oil surrounding the chicken also started to shout at me, before I realised it had begun to burn underneath. While I dealt with the burning chicken, my sauce frothed up and other the sides of the saucepan making a volcano of a mess across the entire hob, cooking on the still hot patch where the pasta just finished cooking.
I quickly grabbed both the frying pan and saucepan and rescued them both.
The chicken ended up with the pasta in pyrex containers, ready to be baked in the main oven with what was left of the sauce covering it all. I turned the oven on, as I had forgotten to pre-heat it until now.
While putting the rest of the milk away, I realised that I still had to grate my cheese. This was going to form a crisp layer on the surface of the pasta bake in the oven, until I realised that I had bought the wrong type of cheese. Normally, you would use Cheddar or a similar cheese, however I had Red Leisceter. It worked well in sandwiches and cheese toasties, but not with pasta and cheese, with an attempt of a Bechalam sauce.
A plate caught the cheese dropping within the grater, as I raced against the oven heating up. A little bleep told me that the light had gone out and I dumped all the cheese I had on top of the pasta. On went the oven gloves and down came the door as I threw my meal into the oven. Nearly an hour had passed since I first took my equipment out of their homes and onto the worktop so my hunger was increasing by the minute. While the meal was cooking, I made a start on the washing up.
My dinner was ready, as I gazed over my next hours worth of work, completely burned on the top with cheese dripping down the sides. It was slightly depressing to realise how bad the dinner had turned out, but hunger took the better of me and I sat down at the breakfast bar to try and enjoy it. It was an experiment too far and far too early for an amateur like myself.
I am officially back to pizza until an alternative hits the shelves in the shops.