Monday, August 16, 2010

Opening Night

The journey's begun. Learning to cook is a major challenge. For some, it's a challenge for the wallet too. As a college student, I'm learning to budget and bargain, scramble and save! At one point, we Boilermakers are spoiled with dining court food. (Our dining halls have won awards, but I'd hate to know what terrible is! I'm not knocking Purdue dining, but no matter how you slice it, it's DORM FOOD!!!)

So we move out of the dorms into our own apartments with our very own kitchens. At this point, many of us had been living off of our parents and the university's choice of diet. But now here is our chance to fend for ourselves (and lose the freshmen 15 or 40 for some). For some of us, it's a matter of what frozen plastic plate to stick in the microwave. Some the rest of us, it's a whole new journey beyond classes and studying.

After living on my own for 4 years (two in the dorms and two in an apartment), I can say that I have successfully learned to make edible food. It's not always beautiful, but with a few dollars in my pocket I can get the job done.

This blog is about making the most of cooking in college life! I will tell you now that my specialty is baking! But I'm going to show you some recipes that have gotten me through my penny-saving days. I have one more year of college to go (that's right, doing a victory lap) and I'm here to show you some awesome things that I've learned!!

Let's start with spices!!

When I first moved into my apartment, I didn't have a jar of spice to my name. Nearly everything off this list was compiled by my three roomates and I've since copied them after moving out! Here's a good list to start off with:

Cinnamon (for breakfast and dessert)
Salt & Pepper
Poultry or Italian seasoning (Chicken's so cheap, throw something on it & you're set)
Cumin (the secret to taco seasoning)

This list is sort of scattered and out there, but think about it. If your first month in your new apartment you KNOW you're only buying oatmeal, cereal, ramen, and pizza you don't need anything else!

Now, if you hope to impress your friends and entertain your family you'll need a longer list. This may take time to collect but it'll be worth it! In order, starting with what I use the most:

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (I am born in New Orleans, you see)
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Garlic Salt
Cayenne Pepper

In case you're wondering "that's it?!!?" there are a million other useful spices and things:

Bay Leaves
White Pepper
Lemon Pepper
Ground Ginger
Minced Garlic
Minced Onion
Chopped Onion

And here are some miscellaneous things that I've found myself running out to get or wishing I already had:

Vegetable Oil
Olive Oil
Tomato Paste
Corn Starch (to thicken any sauces you screw up like I have)
Bread Crumbs

Depending on what type of cuisine you eat (Southern foods, East & West Coasts, French, Italian, Asian, Mexican, and so many more) depends on what kind of spices you need. I use my spices to make pasta, veggies, tacos, pizza, casseroles, and a lot of random things! As you begin to try new things, you'll find yourself buying new spices to enhance the dish! Such as Yellow Curry! I hope to dive into Thai food this year! I'll let you know how that goes!

Hope this was a helpful post. My next posts will be way more interesting. Look forward to saving money, cheap snacks, cheap dinners, and my trials and errors in cooking and baking in college!!

Have a blessed one!

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