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.
A Crash Course for a New Cook
- High-quality, affordable knives - First order of business: Get yourself a good knife. Here's a great discussion of good yet cheap knives.
- Basic knife skills - Watch this video to learn how to handle your knife skillfully, like a real chef.
- 25 tips for saving money at the grocery store - Learning how to shop frugally is key. Here are tons of tips and good ideas!
- How to organize your fridge - A guide to putting everything in its place.
- How to clean the toughest stains off cookware - Even when you burn the pasta, these tricks will get your pans in shape.
- Buy good fruit and vegetables - A guide to picking out the best produce at the market.
- How to steam vegetables - One of the easiest way to cook those fresh veggies.
- How to make chocolate chip cookies - No more care packages from Mom? It's OK. Bake your own cookies.
- How to roast a chicken - One of the simplest, most satisfying suppers we know how to make.
- How to fry an egg - Never go without breakfast.
- How to make brown rice - Another cheap, basic staple in the kitchen.
- Recipes for new grads - Last but not least, a few good recipes for the new cook.
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!