One of my new favorite activities since graduating from college is cooking. I’ve been helping my mom cook dinner since high school, but I never really paid attention to what I was doing. I’d stir while she chopped, and we’d gossip about the latest drama in my world. Thus, my stirring skills are top notch, while my chopping skills are practically non-existent. So, in order to survive on my own cooking (basically a necessity if you want to be able to save any money in grad school), I started watching the Food Network to learn. Seriously.

Last fall, I found out that I loved the FN. Man, all these cool, celebrity chefs teaching me how to cook? Awesome. I felt like we were all buddies, and that they were talking just to me. Of course I have my favorites. Giada de Laurentiis is at the top of my list as I love Italian food, and I have utmost respect for Alton Brown since he explains the science behind cooking. I’m even a fan of Rachael Ray because her energy and vernacular amuse me. My labmate absolutely hates that she says “E.V.O.O.” and “delish!” Naturally, I’ve started using them in lab just to get under her skin.

Okay, so I love the FN. The thing is, I don’t think my cooking has actually improved much from watching the shows. When I’m presented with a recipe and shown how to cook it, like Giada’s Red Wine Risotto and Peas, my product is pretty great. Slightly crusted pork medallions with a white wine sauce? No problem. However, I’m mostly confused when I try to “put something together” with my pantry ingredients. I could blame my pantry (rice and beans anyone? Followed by the dozens of packets of freeze-dried fruit my mother sends me?), but that’s not fair. Bobby Flay could probably cook up something delicious from my tomato paste, rice, almonds and peanut butter. I certainly don’t want to blame my burgeoning palette. No, no, that would mean something was actually wrong with me, and we all know I’m near perfect. Maybe I can just blame the lack of FN shows on what to do when you’re a student and you have five random ingredients. They should just expand that Top Chef episode. Or give Arthur Schwartz a TV show.

One of the times I tried to throw something together, I ended up with onion breath for over a day. Yes, I brushed my teeth and used Listerine. Three times. Three weeks later, it happened again. Another time, I combined Cheerios, cheese and oregano and then microwaved it. Does that sound like a good idea? Clearly, I have a problem. On the other hand, I can whip up some form of curried chicken with ease and even spring rolls that taste good. Never mind that I can’t get them to stay rolled. Perhaps it’s my filter that has failed me. I guess my main problem is that I’m forced to follow “recipes” (yes, we call them that) in lab all day, and when I get home, I don’t want to think of how many milliliters of red wine vinegar or grams of sage I should add. Thus, my aversion to recipes. I need some form of chaos in my life to balance out the order in lab. But, in order to learn, I probably should follow recipes for a while. Will I actually do it? Well, I promise to keep you all updated on my future culinary adventures.

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