Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My culinary wizardry

I don't cook. It's just not something that I've ever really been into. I can make myself a toasted sandwich, a heat-up microwave meal or a boiled egg, but that's just about the extent of it.

Recently, I have become exposed to the art of making Real Food™, an endeavour which I was first introduced to when I sort-of-successfully helped some buddies make a killer lasagne. This trend continued while I was in Cape Town – I stayed with a couple of student friends who unbelievably managed to cook meals for themselves every single night. I've encountered some crazy things over the course of my blogging career, but this little factoid has probably astounded me the most.

Since arriving in Grahamstown, I've felt inspired to try this “cooking” thing for myself. The results have been ugly, but edible.

My first dish.

I've benefitted greatly from being able to use the fully-equipped kitchen at Cow Moon Theory to craft my crimes against nature. It wasn't too difficult to get permission to use it outside business hours – offering to cook food for people kinda falls into the same category as famous commentary like “Hey, can you look after my Xbox for a few days?” and “My wallet is way too heavy, would you like some of this money?”

In general, I'm striving to tear apart the good name that pasta meals have acquired over the ages – after all, they're cheap and easy to make. I do intend to diversify, however, and have already attempted bolder ventures such as chicken a la king.

The meal ended up turning into its less glorious cousin: chicken, rice and glop. Half eaten, of course.

What I've found is that cooking isn't as hard as the Internet makes it out to be. Seriously, shame on you Internet. You provide me with a lasagne recipe with about five billion ingredients when all it really takes is a wad of mince, a wad of pasta sheets and a packet of just-add-some-damn-water cheese sauce. I added a can of tomato onion mix and that was JUST BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE FANCY.

My tuna macaroni dish. Ingredient count: 4. Splurt of tomato sauce was number 4.

Cooking an adequate meal is surprisingly easy, even if the results aren't exactly pretty, and I think that simpler recipes need to be more broadly advertised so that neophytes like me can see that making food isn't so hard. Yes, my lasagne isn't nearly as good as the stuff that top chefs make, but it's a springboard into the Real Food™ world and hey, it's still pretty edible.

It's great to know that I can start with a bare bones pasta dish like this, for example, and then elaborate in the future with more interesting stuff like garlic, chicken livers and crystal meth. If only more Doritos-eating basement dwellers like me realised that this truly was the case.


  1. Nice to see you're trying out cooking! I'm glad we can claim some of that inspiration. I'm sure you saw how simple our recipes were, and I mean with stuff like that I don't see how people would actually choose 2-minute noodles over a proper pasta.

    P.S. We generally do cheese/white sauce from principle ingredients (flour, butter and milk) instead of instant packet. I guess it's just 'cos that's what we did at home. Same goes with the whole instant chips thing I guess.

  2. Hehe, I'm starting out pretty simple. I'm gonna start making my own sauces soon, but for a complete dunce like me the "ready to serve" stuff has its appeal. :P

    I also have a cupboard stocked full of several million types of pasta. That stuff really is dirt cheap.