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Cooking in College: Cooking is another important life lesson

The alluring scent of sautéed onions coats the thin cut of meat known as the Chaliapin steak, and each tender bite explodes with a juicy, meaty savor that’s accentuated by a light hint of salt and pepper.

When it comes to producing food in a college student’s kitchen, meals like the Chaliapin steak are rare to see. Instead, instant meals are typical, and they range from frozen dinners to instant noodles to boxed macaroni and cheese.

But why? Cooking isn’t a difficult skill to start learning. Literally millions of recipes are just a simple Google search away, and many recipes are variations of others, providing almost too many choices to suit any and all palates.

I started my cooking journey by writing down recipes I was interested in, one of the first being the instructions to make a creamy alfredo sauce with pasta — a dish so easy to make that it takes me about 20 minutes to prepare.

That’s how easy cooking can be, but, of course, many other recipes will likely be more complex and call for more of a time commitment, which is one of the biggest setbacks when it comes to cooking in college.

But here’s the thing: the meals that cost me a lot of time and effort never tasted awful. Homemade meals have a sort of endearing quality to them; they were the product of my own effort, even if they don’t exactly look as appealing as almost anything on the Food Network.

To be fair, not every homemade meal should be expected to look as glorious as it does on a nationally-known channel solely about food. The food on TV is made for appearances, but the food most people make is made for practicality.

And let’s be honest, the more time you spend in college, the harder it is to be picky about food.

So even if a meal takes longer to make, just know that it will most likely be worth the result. Furthermore, consider that as cooking becomes more routine, meals that were harder to make before become easier and can be made more quickly.

For now, just do yourself a favor and set aside some time in your week to cook a meal, either on your own or with friends. Try something you’ve never made before and let your taste buds explore. If you’re feeling up to the task, look up a Chaliapin steak recipe and try making it yourself.

Alternatively, you can start easy using the creamy alfredo sauce recipe I mentioned earlier.

Learning how to take ingredients and make them into a delicious and filling dish is a skill that’s useful during college and beyond, and like many other skills, it gets easier through practice. College is a time and place of learning, and most people arguably learn more life lessons outside of the classroom rather than within one. Why can’t cooking be one of those life lessons?


Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cheese while stirring, allowing the cheese to melt into the sauce. Then stir in parsley.
Serve with freshly cooked pasta.

(Recipe from Rebecca Swift on allrecipes.com)

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