(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
This is the time of year when college lets out, and new graduates gear up for "real life."

Thirteen years ago, that was me: armed with a lot of student-loan debt and a curious spirit but very little sophistication in the kitchen, I packed my bags for a new life in New York City. I thought cheap Spanish Cava was "good champagne" and overcooked my pasta because I didn't know better. My first home was a tiny illegal sublet on 61st Street, whose one-drawer kitchen was seen by everyone passing on the Roosevelt Island tram. That one drawer was full of a lot of dull knives.

You probably know at least one graduate who will fend for his or herself in the kitchen for the first time this summer. (And just maybe that graduate is you!) No more campus cafeterias or midnight pizza runs; it's time to cook for real.

Here's a crash course in kitchen basics — from finding a good cheap knife, to cleaning the worst sorts of stains off your pots, to roasting a chicken.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

A Crash Course for a New Cook

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

Congratulations, graduates! Go forth and cook...

What do you wish you would have known about cooking when you first made your way in the world? Leave a comment and we'll round up some of our favorites!