Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Series: Kendall Can

I've been friends with Kendall since he was 6 years old.

 A week or so ago, he moved into his first apartment. Later that night he posted something on Facebook about how now that he lives alone, he'll need to go shopping and/ or feed himself. As a woman who has been living all alone for three years now, I find this inspiring. I think I'm going to add a whole new series to this blog all dedicated to young and independent living. I am naming it "Kendall Can". And if Kendall can, anyone can. :)

Today... Kendall Can Cook: Buttered Noodles (Noodle Doodles courtesy of Katherine G. Hurl)

I know, I know, you're a 19 year old fellow and society tells you that you're worthless in the kitchen--a slave to Ramen and Froot Loops unless and until you con a woman into making food. I assure you, that's not the case at all. Stand up for yourself. Stand up... for masculinity!!  I'm not saying you need to learn a bunch of kitchen skills, either. You can impress/ feed yourself and others really easily.

First things first is stocking your kitchen with essentials.
As far as utensils go, you can get surprisingly far with a pot, a skillet, a strainer and a spoon. I bought all of mine from thrift stores. Go to Salvation Army (but not Goodwill due to questionable business practices) and run to the kitchen section (this is where I bought all my plates and bowls and coffee mugs, too). A pot should be big enough to boil four cups of water, a skillet should be big enough for a slice or two of bread and your strainer should not be rusted out (you can get one of these at walmart for about a dollar so I am not opposed to buying a new one that isn't filled with petrified pasta remnants).
Then go to the grocery store. I'll give you a more detailed account of how to go shopping in a later post but for now, you're going to spend about $6.00 and get yourself enough food to eat at least four times.
Get a box of pasta (any kind--it's the fun part), a pound of butter (for Pete's sake--real butter), and Parmesan cheese. (Upgrade options: parsley and/ or red pepper flakes)
Take all of these things home, put the butter and cheese in the fridge, wash the crap out of your used dishes and then assemble as such:

I'm running on the assumption that your pot is as big as mine and that you already have salt and pepper in your home. If your reality is different from my assumptions then for goodness sake, buy salt and pepper. And if your pan is smaller than mine, mentally cut everything in half. The important thing to remember is that it's just food and if you ruin it, your mom doesn't live that far away and would love to hear the story of how you ruined Buttered Noodles.

Fill your pot with water. Not all the way to the top, but certainly past the halfway point.
Heat that water on high until it starts to boil. Congratulations! You can boil water!
Insert pasta. When I make pasta in a my-pot-sized-pot, I put about half the box in and I have a fair amount of left overs. Frankly, it's really hard to know how much pasta to cook.
Use that spoon to stir your pasta immediately after you put it into the pot. That's your one expert cooking tip. If you don't, it'll get stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan.
After a few minutes, fish out a piece of pasta. Blow on it and then eat it. If it's got some crunchy bits, keep cooking and repeat this process until there are no more crunchy bits. If there are no crunchy bits, continue.
Turn off the burner.
Pour the pasta and the water into the strainer. Let it strain.
Put some butter (I don't know, cut off maybe an inch of a stick of butter--because you're using real butter that comes in sticks) into the pan. Toss in a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper (this is where you could add the upgrades as well), pour the hot pasta back in and stir it all up so that butter is all over your pasta.
Top with Parmesan.
Grab a fork.

You didn't buy a plate today so you're going to have to eat it out of the pot. That happens sometimes.

(Upgrade option that will make your mother proud: when the pasta is almost done cooking, throw in a handful or two of frozen veggies into the boiling water and finish as usual)

Next time... Kendall Can Buy Groceries

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weather and Peaches and Blueberries

Cold weather can't come soon enough. I just recently read an article about how the number of Black Widow spiders have greatly increased since last winter never really got cold enough to do them in for good. The good news: they rarely go indoors and only like to attack you if you're attacking their babies. So if you're going after a spider nest, do it with a can of something flammable and from a mighty distance.

It's back to being a hundred degrees, outside. This weekend was a nice little reminder that we will get through this and Autumn will fall and we will cuddle in the chill once again. Yesterday it even rained for most of the day (or at least had a drizzely feel to it) and I felt like coming home and listening to Bon Iver and wearing a sweater and eating potato soup. And I did. Even though it was still 80 degrees.
One morning, it was in the low 70's. I opened the windows and the cat couldn't decide which sill would be her perch. She's gone so long without them that she tried them all out until she settled in her favorite. Always the one in the living room, behind the purple chair, where she can watch the driveway and pretend as though she couldn't be bothered by the lives of the neighbors. Even though she's secretly fascinated.

Last summer, I was introduced to roasting vegetables. This summer I gave fruit a go.
 Peaches + blueberries + the tiniest squeeze of agave + 400 degrees = something both purple and versatile.
I don't want to make time go faster and I like to think of myself as a woman who revels in living in the moment. But as a woman who also lives on rainy, overcast, drizzely days, this Kansas drought is taking a toll on my soul. I would dance, I would pray, I would wash my car if it would make it rain. Good, soaking rain. Good fill-in-all-of-the-cracks rain.