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CommieBastard
post Aug 30 2005, 06:04 PM
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I was going to post this in Kisah's excellent thread, but her presence here is a bit variable, so I decided to put out a more general appeal.

In a month or so, I'm off to begin my undergraduate course at the University of Sheffield. I asked for catered accomodation, but got self-catered instead. This will be... interesting, as I can't cook beyond bacon 'n eggs, burgers, and straight-to-oven thingies. While I can live off these for a year, I'm not sure I want to. If anybody has any tips for somebody who's never really had to cook and is now going to have to prepare their own food for a year, please share them!


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Moosh
post Aug 30 2005, 06:17 PM
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My top tip is: anything can be fried. Buy a wok and that'll be all you need.


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Snugglebum the D...
post Aug 30 2005, 06:24 PM
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And a toastie maker. *noddles*


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Cath Sparrow
post Aug 30 2005, 06:40 PM
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Yeh! Go with stir fry's there dead simple.


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Usurper MrTeapot
post Aug 30 2005, 07:40 PM
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Buy a cookbook.

(*subliminal* Cheese on Toast */subliminal*)


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Feyliya
post Aug 30 2005, 07:50 PM
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My mantra when cooking is "if you're not sure, watch". If you're making something new and you're not quite sure how it's done, follow the recipe as closely as you can then watch it like a hawk while it's cooking. If it's in the oven, watch it through the glass in the oven door (opening the oven can screw up cooking times). Buy a good kitchen timer. It will become your new best friend.

Like everyone here said, a good wok is one of the best kitchen things ever. It's great for cooking EVERYTHING, not just stir-frys. The round surface makes sure heat is distributed very nice and evenly under the food. I'd suggest getting a non-stick one. Just be careful not to cut anything inside it or use any metal utensils.

Pasta is one of the easiest things ever, too. Just vary the types you eat (you can get potato, spinach, and squash pastas along with the regular carb-loading types). Buy supermarket brand sauces then add frozen veggies and cooked hamburger or sausage to it before putting it on top of the pasta to make it more healthy.

Also, keep a bowl of fruit around for healthy snacks. DON'T SKIP MEALS. Every single person in my family has been anemic during college because of meal-skipping. Grab a banana or apple if you're in a hurry and have to run.

If your university offers any cooking classes, I recomend taking a basic one. That will help you steer clear of accidentally giving yourself food poisoning or something. Plus, chicks dig guys who can cook (at least, I do and all my female friends do).

*edit

Also, get a coffee pot, even if you don't like coffee. You can use it to make quick tea (just put the tea bag in the carafe and let the hot water go through the rest), you can use it to make quick hot ramen (just put the ramen and seasoning in the carafe and let the water run through), you can use it for just regular hot water.... It's very versatile.


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Mata
post Aug 31 2005, 12:56 AM
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Frying pan
spatula
big saucepan
medium/little saucepan
colander
one small and sharp knife
one big knife (sharpness not really essential)
maybe a chopping board
cheese-grater
tin opener
bottle opener
small/medium tupperware for freezing stuff

Woks are usually rubbish if you're cooking on electric rings, which is mostly all students are trusted with (drunk students + gas ....).

Get a nice big frying pan and learn the delights of stir frying everything that God or evolution has ever created.

Also, learn the delights of tupperware tubs for freezing stuff.

And marker pens to identify what's yours in the freezer (it seems irritating to start off with but come Easter when everyone in the kitchen hates each-other you'll be thanking me).

Get two saucepans, one small (for sauce things) and one big (for pasta and spuds).

So, a simple but tasty meal:

mince meat of some variety (I suggest turkey mince because it's lower in fat, but any will do)
tin of tomotoes (and herbs if you fancy it, they come premixed for about a penny more)
an onion
two cloves of garlic
mushrooms
oxo cube if you fancy it
dried sage if you fancy it
dried basil if you etc
black pepper
tobasco if you like things spicy
spaghetti.

Get your nice big frying pan. Bung in the mince. Cook it (here's the stir frying bit) until it stops looking like it would poison you to try and eat it (ie, stops being pink). Bung in your onion around now or earlier. Crush your garlic and add that at any point before now. Open your tin of toms, bung that in too, and set it to a medium heat to simmer. Crush the oxo cube and add in any other optional extras, no more than a teaspoon and usually less.

Smell it. Decide how much pepper to add. You don't usually need to add salt, but you can if you want. Take another sniff. Scavenge around in your cupboards. Remember you meant to add the mushrooms earlier. Slice then add the mushrooms now and stir them in.

Sniff it again. If you think it needs something else then add it. If you can keep a basil plant alive then a few casually ripped up basil leaves work a treat with anything involving tomatoes. You can now put a lid on it if you've got one, if not then don't bother.

You'll leave that to simmer off the excess juice from the toms for about twenty minutes, so in five minutes put your water on for the pasta. In five minutes put on about half a big-saucepan full of water to boil. Go and wash up your knives and chopping board while the water boils. Washing up now makes it all less painful once dinner is eaten and digesting.

Five minutes later the water will be done, bung in your spaghetti. If you put the tip of your forefinger to the second knuckle of your thumb (working back from the tip) then the whole you've made is about right for a reasonable portion of spaghetti for two people.

Make sure everything's okay with the frying pan by pushing it around with a spatula. You can judge when it's ready by seeing how fast the liquid flows back into place after you shove it along the bottom. You don't want it to get too dry, but you're deliberately boiling off the water to intensify the flavours so if you've got it too hot there is the chance it might get too dry and begin to burn.

Your spaghetti will take about ten minutes (don't get quick-cook, the flavour isn't as good), so if your bolognase is getting too dry then try adding a little water and stirring it in.

You've got a lot of leeway when it comes to spag bol. You can use pretty much any ingredients you want that go with tomatoes and mince, and there's no strict rules about consistency or any rubbish like that. Every batch you make will be a bit different depending on what you've got around.

While the spaghetti cooks you might want to grate some cheese.

Ten minutes later, drain the spag and pop it on a plate, dish up the bol on top, put cheese on that. Ta daa! Bung the pans in to soak and eat your tasty scram.

If you use a whole pack of mince, a whole tin of tomatoes, a whole onion etc, then this will produce enough bol sauce/meat for four meals. Serve up what you're using then put the rest in tupperware and leave it to cool with the lid/s on. Remember to freeze in portion sizes that you will want to defrost in, because it's far easier to space out now than it will be when frozen.

Once it's cooled you can put the tupperware in the freezer and so another night you can put it in the microwave to defrost it. Defrosting this kind of stuff can be done on high, a minute or two at a time, stirring in between to get cold bits to the edge. Use your common sense! If it's nearly ready then it won't need another two minutes, if it's barely touched after one minute then give it a couple more before next stirring it.

That probably all sounds complicated, but it's not. Here's the simple version:

Cook your meat
Bung in everything else, stir a bit
leave to simmer
Put water on
put in pasta
serve
eat.

EDIT: also, you've got a meal that's pretty much completely free of anything artificial (unless they put anything in the tin of toms, which isn't massively likely). If you buy lean meat then it's also pretty healthy too.


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{Gothic Angel}
post Sep 2 2005, 03:31 PM
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Not claiming to have been to uni and done this, but I do a lot of catering for my family at home. Mata's bolognaise (I know I spelt that wrong) recipie can be turned to pretty much anything. You can get some cheese and make lasagne. You can stuff canelloni or any random large veg with it, and bake it. You can add some chillis and make chilli. You can get some potatoes and make cottage pie. Old packets of crisps squashed up and bunged on top of cottage pie make a really nice crispy topping, btw. If you're having problems with budget and stuff then there are plenty of student cookbooks available which give some ideas and stuff.

Good luck smile.gif


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Mata
post Sep 2 2005, 04:04 PM
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Don't forget beans on toast!


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little_bear
post Sep 2 2005, 06:11 PM
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Kettle + Pot Noodle = Win.

Nuff said.


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Ashbless
post Sep 3 2005, 12:13 AM
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Attend a university with a cafeteria and take a daily multivitamin?
tongue.gif

Buy a steamer thingy that fits into a pot. Throw in assorted vegtables. Steam 'em for 10-20 minutes. It's dead simple. Add water to the bottom of the steamer, put in vegtables, cover, heat, poke veggies for doneness in 10 or 20 minutes. Remove and put grated cheese on them. Some grocery stores sell baked chicken which goes well also.

Student cook books are also a fairly good investment.


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CommieBastard
post Sep 3 2005, 07:41 AM
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QUOTE (Ashbless @ Sep 3 2005, 01:13 AM)
Attend a university with a cafeteria  and take a daily multivitamin?
tongue.gif
*


For reference, Sheffield do have a cafeteria tongue.gif I wanted catered accomodation, but they were oversubscribed - my self-catered rooms were the only ones left.


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Mata
post Sep 3 2005, 02:40 PM
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The multivitamins are a good tip. I took them every day throughout my time at uni.

Here's a very easy meal, chicken soup special:

Cook pasta.
Drain.
Put pasta back in saucepan.
Add in tin of Campbell's chicken soup.
Stir.
Serve.

Additional options are Spicy Chicken Soup Special (add tobasco sauce), Cheesey CSS (add grated cheese), CSS with Black Pepper and Spring Onions, With Mushrooms, etc. Basically it's a tasty meal that can be expanded for two or more people very easily. If you know a veggie then mushroom soup works well too (although I find it a bit too salty for my taste).

It's sometimes good to counter-balance your ingredients, so slice up and stir fry a chicken breast (usually takes about five minutes, break open a bit of chicken with your spatula to see if it's still pink inside) then use mushroom soup, or quickly fry a load of mushrooms and put those with chicken soup.

Ah, another top tip: rather than using knives to chop up chicken, get yourself a decent pair of kitchen scissors. They're often far easier to cut meat with than a knife and are useful for opening packets safely too. It's worth spending about 15 on these because they will last you damn near forever. Heat a blade and melt your initials on the handles so no-one nicks them!

One more: the student fridge. This only works in winter and in non-ground level rooms, for obvious reasons. Get yourself a plastic bag and dangle things outside your window to keep them cool. This is handy for beer, but can also be useful if you have problems with things going missing.


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JimiJimi
post Sep 3 2005, 05:04 PM
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Or, if you like simple food, experiment with toast.

Cheese on toast.

Cheese on toast + brown sauce.

Cheese on toast + milk.

Cheese on toast + salsa dip (or tabasco or other hot sauce)

Multiple cheeses on toast.

If you do the milk one (which is helluva nice) then mix the cheese and milk together in a gooey mix before putting it on the toast.



Beans on toast.

Beans on toast + cheese.

Beans on toast + salsa dip.

Beans on toast + ketcup...



...and so on.


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funky fairy
post Sep 3 2005, 05:23 PM
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A friend of mine went to art college fo a couple of years and lived on cereals. Sugar puffs, cornflakes, weetabix, all of them.

They have all the vitamins and minerals and stuff, plus youre getting your calcium from your milk.

Brain food, although my friend has lost his mind and is dead fat now!!!


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Phyllis
post Sep 3 2005, 05:36 PM
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Tortillas. You can stuff them with tons of different things, and they're yummy.

Tacos are quite good and fast. Just brown some hamburger or ground turkey (though since uni students usually = poor, it'll probably be hamburger. High fat stuff tends to be cheaper), drain it, and throw in some sauteed peppers and onions. The UK is seriously lacking in ready-made spices for tacos, so just add some salt, pepper, and corriander, I guess. Then put it in a tortilla shell with salsa, cheese, sour cream, and salad. Then you wrap it up.

However, if the adverts/tortilla packets are any indication...most UKers won't know how to fold a soft taco so that it doesn't spill all over their shirts. I always use the same method as people use to fold a burrito. Whether or not this is correct doesn't matter...it's not messy when you eat it this way. Observe: Help from Ortega

You can also put in cut up chicken, salad, and sauce of your choice. Tortillas are very versatile. You should put the tortilla on a plate underneath a moist paper towel and heat it up in a microwave before attempting to wrap anything in it though (otherwise it'll crack if it's been refridgerated).

Another good one for a snack or light meal is quesadillas. Place a tortilla flat on a plate (don't need to warm it up first in this case), toss some cheese and salsa, (and any cooked meat or vegetables you happen to want) evenly over the top. Slap another tortilla on top of this, microwave until melty (probably about a minute), then slice it up and eat.

I'll probably think of something else later...but right now I am seriosly wanting Mexican food, so my mind was on tortillas.


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Mata
post Sep 4 2005, 06:12 PM
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QUOTE (candice @ Sep 3 2005, 05:36 PM)
The UK is seriously lacking in ready-made spices for tacos
*

I remember going into an American food shop for the first time and being amazed that there was an entire aisle of tex-mex food variations. I'd assumed being in California, near-ish to Mexico helped. Is it the same all over the US? You really don't get that much of it over here. There are only two brands I can think of that produce that kind of food and it's certainly not popular on the scale I saw in the US, which is a shame because it's really tasty, and can be made into a very healthy meal too. Yum yum yum *drools*


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Feyliya
post Sep 4 2005, 10:01 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Sep 4 2005, 10:12 AM)
I remember going into an American food shop for the first time and being amazed that there was an entire aisle of tex-mex food variations. I'd assumed being in California, near-ish to Mexico helped. Is it the same all over the US? You really don't get that much of it over here. There are only two brands I can think of that produce that kind of food and it's certainly not popular on the scale I saw in the US, which is a shame because it's really tasty, and can be made into a very healthy meal too. Yum yum yum *drools*
*


Yes, it really is that way everywhere. At least, it's that way everywhere I've ever been. In some grocery stores there isn't a defined aisle for that kind of thing and you just have to poke through the entire store to find it all, but there is enough for it's own aisle.


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post Sep 4 2005, 10:32 PM
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Hmm....to be honest it's been a lot of take aways and bung it in the oven stuff for me. I do cook occasionally and I can cook, the main problem areas tend to be:
Washing up- not just you, others as well, if fact mostly others in my experience, but I lived with a pig for the past 3 years.
Utensils: If you follow Mata's advice then you should be ok, but cooking without the right equipment is a pain in the arse
Ingredients: If you're gonna cook proper food you need to work out what you're going to buy well in advance. It maybe different for you, but there are no supermarkets within walking distance of my University and the two small shops near by have a VERY limited selection. In short, know what you need before you go shopping and make sure you get enough stuff.

It's all down to how communal and friendly it all is, cooking on your own with no one to talk to is damn boring, I'm hoping things will improve this year with my new housemates.


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Mata
post Sep 4 2005, 11:52 PM
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The kitchen is in a different bit of the house to the living room in the place I'm currently living so I have returned to the delights of audio-books. I've been working my way through the Harry Potter ones on my mp3 player, and I've got a William Gibson lined up for after those finish. I suspect I'll go back to Sherlock Holmes once I'm done with that. Audio-books are great because you can get through stories that you'd probably never get around to reading by yourself. Earlier this year I listened to Dante's Inferno, which was good, but I was glad I was listening to it because I think I would have become bored if I was reading.

As SPS says, planning meals is useful, especially if you're going to be living a distance from a convenient shop (which I was). Cook twice as much as you need, leave half to cool in a tub then freeze it. Always keep the basics in stock: tins of tomatoes, onions, pasta, tins of tuna, and (if possible) cheese. If you've got these then you can always make a tasty meal.


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Kitty
post Sep 5 2005, 01:00 AM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Sep 4 2005, 07:52 PM)
Earlier this year I listened to Dante's Inferno, which was good, but I was glad I was listening to it because I think I would have become bored if I was reading.
*


GOOD IDEA! Audio book of Dante's Inferno.... I have the Modern English translation in print and its so just blah....

/ spam


As for freezers: They're great! My mom likes to cook up a huge pot of spaghetti and freeze it in tupperware and stick it in the freezer. That way you can have spaghetti on demand! ( as long as you have a microwave) Cuz spaghetti just seems to take forever to cook....

Also if you like smoothies I suggest freezing a bit of fruit. Then you go out and buy yourself a big tub of protein powder or whey powder or something powdery of the sort (makes it thicker/protein-y-er) and the frozen fruit helps keep your smoothie nice and thick and cold. Use yoghurt/milk and blend whatever mixture you like together in a blender and VOILA! A meal/snack (tends to be a meal for me....)


Soups and stews tend to be a good thing to make too. If you like onion soup its really not that hard to make.... Basically you cut up onions, sautee them in butter, once they're transparent and slightly squishy you add in some flour and a little water and make a rue (stir the mixture untill the flour turns a nice dark brown colour, but dont burn!) Add stock, or if you dont keep stock around toss some bullion cubes in some water. simmer it all together for about an hour, then! Pour some soup in a bowl, top it off with toasted bread and then put cheese (lots) on top and blow torch it!!! (or.... stick it under your broiler or something to make the cheese melt) and eat!

Dont forget spices and seasonings and stuff to taste.... <.<


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Mata
post Sep 5 2005, 12:44 PM
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Oo, that onion soup sounds great. I might have to try that myself.


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post Sep 5 2005, 01:51 PM
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Thats what I'm making my family for lunch today! happy.gif


Edit: I forgot one of the major ingrediants!! Red wine! Its FRENCH ! x.x;

Silly me, forgetting the wine.... Make sure you add the red wine tongue.gif It makes all the difference in flavor, by the time its done all the alcohol should be cooked out though tongue.gif


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Phyllis
post Sep 5 2005, 06:44 PM
Post #24


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Yeah, like Fey said...Mexican food is that popular pretty much all over the US. But that happens when you're neighbors with a country who has amazing food.

I didn't just mean that the UK spices were lacking in quantity...they're also really nasty (imo). The spices in the US, while nowhere near as good as the genuine thing, are at least edible. And they're an easy way to make a quick meal. The UK ones made me cringe. blink.gif It's weird because Old El Paso is based in Texas and generally has vaguely edible stuff. I guess they were trying to cater to English tastes or something, since companies do that when they branch out overseas (so many times I've eaten something and said "Wha? That's not *insert product name here*!").

Oh! One thing that is readily available in most supermarkets (that I've been to) in the UK that is lovely for pasta or rice (or anything, really)....Thai sweet chilli sauce. Yummmmmmmm. I could go through a bottle a week of that stuff on my own.


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depressed lonely...
post Sep 8 2005, 11:33 AM
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I didn't see it mentioned above so, How do you feel about tinned pilchards/mackeral in tomato sauce on toast or with mashed potatos?
Thats easy as and if you with mackeral and el cheapo bread totally affordable and healthy...apart from the mercury you may be picking up in the mackeral unsure.gif


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