How I Learned to Cook: Keeping it simple (not eggs part 2)

I didn’t get back into a kitchen until my junior year of college. After high school and my parents’ home, I lived in the dorm and then at my parents’ house during college. I did not have a necessity to cook until I lived in an apartment with 3 other guys.

I didn’t know anything about spices or food. I shopped at Aldi’s and Schnucks, my local grocer. I grew up eating rice so each meal had rice. I didn’t know how to handle meat, which actually grossed me out. A slab of beef just felt like a cold, slimy existence that should not be handled. Devoid of life, it should be buried and ignored, but, as a necessity, I cooked beef. Specifically beef stew chunks because I didn’t know anything about beef at age 21 and thought all beef was the same. (I now know different and its pretty life changing.)

My go to meal was sauteed onions, mushrooms, and beef stew chunks served over rice. It was simple, it did the job, and it did not taste fantastic. To make this, I’d first caramelized the onions, using butter and medium-high heat. I had a cheap non-stick pan and an electric stove top. I started with high heat and then turned down the temperature. I learned to do this with eggs so I thought, “Oh hey, this should work too.”

As they were caramelizing, I’d throw in chopped mushrooms too, nothing fancy, just whatever was cheapest, and then I’d throw in the beef, cooking it to well done because I didn’t know any better. (I was always scared of food poisoning because I have never had it before. I know better now after having food poisoning from a restaurant.) Then I’d serve it over rice and be a happy college kid.

I kept it simple, food was a necessity and not a pleasure. Cooking was a chore and not a hobby. I didn’t care to test things. The local burger joint tasted great. Home cooked meals were not where I found pleasure. I’d use pre-made food packages whenever I could. I didn’t know any better until I went to New York to visit an old friend. That trip changed my life.

Eggs part 2 will not be in the next post. Thank you for reading.