Sunday, 4 November 2012

Student Cooking

My honey roast veg and sausages
In my fresher year of uni, much to my initial dismay, I was put in a catered hall, so there was no need to cook more than a microwaved bowl of tinned soup. And even this posed difficulties: on my first day of freshers' week I tried to warm up a bowl of soup for lunch, only to discover our microwave was extremely temperamental. The soup exploded, burnt my face, and now I'm literally scarred for life. Brill.

This year, however, all is different. I am living in an (uncharacteristically beautiful) student house, with a perfectly functioning kitchen and free reign to let my inner culinary goddess out. Yes, that's right. I have an inner culinary goddess. To be fair, I didn't realise this until recently myself. I've known for a while that I get a lot of joy out of baking (newsflash, I know), and I like to think I have a bit of a knack for it. But actual cooking? Oh no no no!

My chicken, leek and chick-pea stew
Well, I have really got very into cooking. By no means am I claiming to be the next Nigella, and my repertoire is still rather limited, but I am really enjoying trying new dishes and the like. I haven't been making anything fancy schmancy, but I've surprised myself by not living off pasta/baked beans/toast. I really take pleasure in fixing up a good, hearty, home-cooked meal, and am really looking forward to going home to my family at the end of term with some well-honed and new-found culinary skills.

I'm also taking a real pride in my cooking, probably just because it's all still a bit new to me. I know what you're thinking: that sounds ridiculous. It's just that living at home throughout my childhood, there was never really any need for me to do much cooking. What a spoilt brat, eh? But it wasn't really like that. I would cook the odd thing here and there, and would help out mum a lot of the time.

So what have I made? Well, I've got quite into honey-roast root veg and sausages; I've made a yummy meatball dish, bulked up with red peppers, peas, broccoli and other veg; an almondy chicken korma with sweetcorn and raisins; a hearty chicken, leek and chick-pea stew; a twist on a classic bolognese with courgettes and red peppers. Nothing that'll blow your mind, but yummy all the same. Tonight I'm going to whip up a chicken, sweet potato and coconut curry, and am rather looking forward to it.

My coronation chicken and veg curry
When I (well, my parents) were buying kitchen bits and bobs for my first solo expedition into the culinary world (AKA uni this year), we thought I'd need miniature pans that would be the perfect size for one portion. I've now realised that that was completely the wrong approach. Student cooking is all about the freezer: you make a few portions worth of each dish, eat one, put some in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. It's more cost-effective, more practical when following recipes, and really convenient for those days when you don't have time to cook properly. Speaking of freezers, frozen peas are your best friend as a student. Seriously, I add them to everything. Love the peas.

Another thing: it's really nice to have control over your meals. I don't mean that in a food-obsessed way (although I know I am a bit obsessed), but I'm just enjoying being able to choose what I eat and when. I like browsing recipes and picking what I want in the supermarket, within the confines of a student budget, obvs. I genuinely love supermarkets. There are so many great foods. See what I mean about food-obsessed? Meh.

Cooking is fun. Who knew? And despite what people say, it's really not that hard. People always complain about having to cook (I'm looking at you, mum), but I'm really enjoying it. On that note, I think it's time for me to go and make myself some dinner. Mmmm dinner.

UPDATE: Here's how tonight's dinner turned out. It was my first time cooking with coconut milk and went down an absolute treat, if I do say so myself. It had all the flavour one would expect from an Indian takeaway, but with lots of extra veggies to make it healthier. I sure I'm glad I've got a few more portions for the freezer!

Colourful coconutty chicken korma with sweet potato, peas, peppers, pineapple and green beans.


  1. Umm excuse me, who do you think you are posting a blog about all these delish meals WITH NO RECIPES?! They literally sound so nom and as a fairly basic (student) cook I would appreciate some recipes please and thank you. Ps especially the last one = extra nom.

    1. D'you know what, andtheivy? I'm totally with you. I'm annoyed I didn't write these recipes down too! I think I just thought they were simple and nothing that special but I'm sure regretting it now. Sorry! However, I can give you that last one, the chicken, sweet potato and coconut curry, as I wrote it in a blog for the Huffington Post here: Enjoy!


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