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Commentary: Cooking catastrophes avoided with aid of brunch class

Lauren Weitz / Lantern reporter

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Cooking is definitely not a skill I possess, which is really a shame because I spend most of my free time eating. 

Now that I’m in college and have my own apartment, I’m faced with the challenge of making meals for myself. Every night, I am forced to choose between mediocre college meals like pizza rolls or microwave nachos. Don’t get me wrong, I can melt cheese on tortilla chips better than anyone I know, but my lack of cooking expertise was boring me. 

I decided it was time to dabble in the culinary arts, or at least time to learn how to make a decent meal for myself that didn’t involve the microwave. I signed up for a free brunch cooking class sponsored by the Ohio Union Activities Board at the Ohio Union and dreaded the days leading up to it. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to go. I was going to have to cook in front of people? At least the class was brunch-themed. No one can argue that breakfast is home to the most delicious foods. Waffles? Bacon? Come on, no question.

When I walked into the instructional kitchen in the basement of the Union, I quickly scoped out the premises. None of the other people in the class looked like they were the next Iron Chef, so I thought I was in good company. That was until the cooking instructor brought us up to the front of the room to show us how to properly poach an egg and make Hollandaise sauce for eggs Benedict. I thought we would be making muffins and scrambled eggs, not gourmet meals. I tried to soak in all of the knowledge I could during the demonstration, but before I knew it, we were separated into different stations, given raw ingredients and recipes and set free. 

As I stared at the four-page recipe guide, I quickly became overwhelmed. I had no idea where to begin. But two of the people in my group had attended cooking classes in the past and helped me through the daunting recipes. My partner and I were in charge of making the apple Waldorf blue cheese salad, which turned out to be pretty easy. No actual cooking was involved, just slicing and dicing different ingredients and putting them in a bowl. Done. 

Next was the potato and onion frittata. This recipe included foreign words such as “simmering” and “whisk,” which I have obviously heard on the Food Network but never attempted to do myself. I quickly learned that the hardest part of cooking is getting the timing down. When making a complex recipe, there are many steps that build on each other. I couldn’t whisk my eggs until the potatoes were done, I couldn’t cook my potatoes until the water was simmering and I couldn’t forget to add salt to the water before cooking the potatoes. As the class went on, I got more into the rhythm of things. At one point, I found myself wanting to narrate everything I was doing like I had my own cooking show. But then I remembered I wasn’t Rachael Ray, and other people would hear me.

After all of the cooking was done, I felt pretty accomplished. That was until I realized I had only helped make two of the five recipes, and I had definitely picked the easiest ones. The other foods that my group prepared were French toast, eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce and Cool Salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches. Even though the menu for the night was completely different than what I was expecting, all of the food turned out to be pretty good. My favorite was the French toast, but that’s only because I love maple syrup. 

The cooking class was definitely a challenge, and even though I was easily the most inexperienced cook in the class, I learned a lot. I’m not sure how much time I will actually have to make these meals on my own (I definitely can’t make them successfully by myself), but I realized that cooking isn’t as daunting as it seems. I’m sure I’ll still make Easy Mac every once in a while, but who knows? Maybe one day I’ll feel adventurous and make a recipe that involves the words “whisk” and “simmer,” both of which I now completely understand and feel semi-confident doing. 

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