Teaching Myself to Cook 

Dylan Enerson, Reporter

 Moving out of your parents’ house leaves a lot for you to figure out on your own. One of the things I never did much of when I lived with my parents was cooking. For the most part, I just had to show up and help a little bit, but it always came out right in the end. They always had some recipe that tasted good or knew exactly what to put in when, but when I started life out of their house, I wanted to figure that stuff out for myself. This led to a lot of trial and error and buying random kitchen items I forgot I had a use for until I stumbled upon a recipe that required an 11pm trip to Walmart.  

Recipes were the tricky thing to get down because not every recipe is made from the items you have in your kitchen. Oven times can vary between different models, and stoves come in about three different types and all cook in different ways. My parents always had gas stoves, which are, in my opinion, the best option to put into a kitchen, but when you bounce between apartments and rental houses, you never know which one you will get. Because of this, I learned to keep on top of what I am cooking and pay attention to make sure I do not burn anything. Even checking on them and making sure to follow the recipe has led to some things just not tasting good or even looking like they did in the recipe. I decided recipes are more of a guideline. If it sounds like something might taste better or you are just out of something, I encourage you to try something new.   

The other thing I learned is that you need the essentials in your kitchen. Get plenty of serving and mixing spoons because if you only have one, then you might be out of luck if you are making two things at the same time. This was especially true for me because I live with someone who is a vegetarian, so if I am making meat, I cannot use the same spoon to mix the other items on the stove. I got one set of wooden utensils and one set of plastic utensils so that there are some options based on what will work best to serve that dish.  

The last kitchen essential that I grabbed was a good spice rack. We got one that holds about 30 different spice containers and are labeled for easy searching. I recommend using a lot of spices in cooking and not just the normal ones that everyone knows. My two favorites to use are lemon pepper and dill weed because they add a little bit of flavor that I was not really used to getting in cooking. I also never follow the recipes suggestions based on measurement of spices and instead I pour it in until it feels like enough to me, which I found really prevents it from getting bland.  

If you can handle trial and error, cooking is an extremely fun thing to do. The payoff is worth it when you make something that tastes almost like it could be served in a restaurant. The main thing I have learned is to remember to try new stuff. It will not always come out fantastic in the end, but you can save the recipes for the stuff that did come out fine and improve upon it next time. 

Dylan Enerson is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].