Cooking tips from the most mediocre chef out there

And you thought that was just a lamp

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I entered college much like many other pseudo-adults from the protective nest of Northern Virginia. I was a novice at laundry, had never ridden a bus and possessed the infamous unlimited meal plan. While I quickly mastered the one-load wonder and the “Rider” app became my best friend, cooking was something far off my radar, as I had a cornucopia of ready-to-eat complex carbohydrates to choose from at O-Hill.

Enter this year, however, and I have moved into an off-Grounds apartment with a full kitchen and the most basic meal plan available. With the start of the fall semester, I knew it — it was time to take the big lunge into adulthood and cook for myself.  

The first recipe I tried was simple — two frozen chicken breasts chopped up and cooked with soy sauce, brown sugar and bell peppers. It was foolproof! That is, until I realized that I couldn’t cut up the frozen chicken. At my roommates’ suggestion, I filled the sink with hot water and dropped in the frozen chicken breasts. I then proceeded to stir the chicken breasts in the hot water with a giant wooden spoon for about 10 minutes until they thawed.

“What a cute rookie mistake!” one of my dear readers may think. Silly reader. I still do this and have found no better technique to thaw my cold, cold breasts.

Since that first foot-in-the-door recipe, I have greatly advanced the quality of certain ingredients in my food, such as the salt. It has been liberating and rewarding, creating my body’s fuel for myself. “How can you afford to spice up your ingredients on a college student budget?” my reader might ask. Well, sweet reader, you know those cool salt lamps that your mom’s friend has all over her house? Have you ever licked one? You should. They are scrumptious.

When my mother gave me a salt lamp for my birthday that I effectively smashed into a million pieces on the car ride back to Charlottesville, I was dismayed. What would I do? I had ruined my mother’s gift!  That is until I discovered that the lamp is lickable and therefore edible. Though those two things do not always mean the same thing — correlation doesn't equal causation, guys — I did my research, and this shouldn’t kill me. I’ve been using bits of lamp in my food for weeks in macaroni and cheese, veggies and eggs. Would it maybe be a lot more convenient and inexpensive to just buy special pink Himalayan sea salt? Yes. Absolutely. But this is a better story. I’d be really pushing it if I wrote an entire article about table salt that was meant to be used as table salt.

Finally, I’d like to share a little fun fact about a certain spice with the readers still chugging on through this Chrissy Teigen wanna-be article. Did you know, patient reader, that rosemary is the spice equivalent to lavender oil? Sure, you’ve been conditioned to believe lavender can cure any malady from breakouts to a cheating boyfriend, but have you stopped to think about the versatility of rosemary? It works on meat, in vegetables and even in different kinds of breads. Ever tried putting rosemary on your chicken? On your cauliflower? Go ahead, sprinkle some rosemary in your bubble bath next time, you’ll see.

Though I have many more cooking tips to share, and still more to learn, the maestro is done for now. Catch me at Kroger aisle 11 checking out what’s new in the condiments section. I’ll let you use my plus card.

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