I am somewhat of a tyrant in the kitchen. It’s not that I’m a bossy person. There’s just something about cooking and baking that brings out an urge in me to have everything done in an exact and meticulous way. And since these carefully measured rules only make sense in my head, I tend to get a bit more irritable and possessive in the kitchen.
Helen seems to think that this is the reason why I like baking so much. There’s just something about all of the measuring cups and spoons that just brings all that chaos right back down to earth. Things may get a bit messy as the recipe goes on, but it’s an extremely organized type of chaos. Due to these OCD tendencies of mine, I’ve managed to acquire quite a bit of cooking ware throughout the years. From a Kitchenaid [my baby and most prized possession] to a meat grinder to an ice cream machine and many other various gadgets. I seem to own a lot of tools, but really, it’s so that I can have my perfect measurements for my perfect cookies.
I have to admit, I’ve grown quite comfortable in the humble little kitchen in my home. But alas, college came calling and I found myself parting with all of my most prized possessions. I had promised myself that I would go home on weekends and bake and cook. But college had other plans for me and whenever I did make it home, I was often just flopping down onto my bed and sleeping. I was too exhausted to lug out my trusty Kitchenaid. And so freshman year came and went. And the only time that I found myself baking and cooking was during the holiday season when my sisters were home too.
For most people, this would have been perfectly all right. For me, it was not. Everyone has their own special way of separating themselves from the utter chaos that is life. Some people eat ice cream, others do yoga, some just like to take a deep breath. I bake. Throughout my senior year of high school and all of the college applications that came with it, I baked up a storm. My friends were ecstatic – every week, there were piles of cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cream puffs and much more.
Summer finally came a week ago and I could not be more excited to finally be in a kitchen again. Granted, I was not going to necessarily be in my kitchen all day. After all, I do have job. The kitchen is small and we’re subletting a tiny apartment from somebody else, but it was going to be a kitchen nonetheless.
Going in, I was prepared for the kitchen to be lacking in the amount of utensils that it had in comparison to mine – after all, we were subletting from boys. But I was still shocked. I had no idea how under stocked their kitchen would be. I had planned on making my first post last night when I cooked dinner for my roommates, but I was so incredibly distraught by the utter lack of everything that I forgot entirely about taking pictures.
There was no cutting board, no real knife, no salt, no pepper, no spatula, no measuring cups – nothing. I found myself using tiny little knives attempting to cut garlic. I used a paper box that had previously contained food as a makeshift cutting board.
In other words, my entire world of peaceful and methodical cooking was cut down. But I calmed myself down a bit more today and I took a deep breath [since I obviously couldn’t bake to relax myself] and I started all over again with a brand new recipe today.
So this is how a real college student with little money cooks like – with about 6 inches of space in between a microwave and air with paper boxes as cutting boards, miniature knives as zesters, and a one do everything stirrer. This first recipe is simple but I hope you’ll bear with me. As I grow more accustomed to my kitchen, I promise that there'll be much more. And in case you were wondering why the lemon in the picture has no more of its peel, it’s because I used it the night before for lemon zest. Ah, the pleasures of trying to make the most out of your money.
Sautéed Asparagus with Butter and Lemon
One of my all time favorite vegetables without a doubt is asparagus. My dad used to make it for me all the time when I was at home, though admittedly with more Asian inspired flavors. We used to always eat it with rice. This is my take on the way that my father used to cook asparagus but with decidedly more American flavors. Though you could also undoubtedly also eat this with rice, I like it more with orzo (dressed with some butter and lots of salt and pepper).
The best thing over all about this dish though? The fact that it barely takes any effort to make and I did it all with only one knife and a paper box as a cutting board.
About 2 pounds of asparagus
2 tablespoons of butter – split into 1.5 tbs and .5 tbs
Juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
Serves 4 as a side dish
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is boiling, trim the rough ends of the asparagus and then tear the asparagus into pieces about 1.5 inches long give or take. You could also cut your asparagus if you would like, but I just like to tear it [especially since I am now lacking a cutting board and any real knife]. The asparagus also doesn’t have to be any exact size, some people like it longer and some shorter, I just prefer it at that length.
Put all of the asparagus into the boiling water at once and let it cook for about 3 – 4 minutes. While that is happening, mince your garlic or simply slice it into really thin slices.
In a medium sauce pan, put in the 1.5 tablespoons of butter. Once it is melted, put the garlic in and cook it until there is a really fragrant smell and the edges of the garlic are slightly brown. Scoop out the asparagus with a slotted spoon into the saucepan and sauté everything for about 2 -3 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Remove from heat and juice your half lemon into the asparagus. Take the remaining butter and stir it into the asparagus. Serve immediately.