All I really need is a better can opener
I've started a new thing this year called "I'm going to cook a decent portion of my own food."
As a college student living in a dorm, a little translation of this statement is in order. "Cook" becomes "microwave" and "decent portion" becomes "I don't actually know how much food I eat in a week, but I'd like a little more control over my diet, so here goes."
Told you translation was needed.
This new cooking-for-myself thing has been under way for about a month, and in that time I've made several fascinating discoveries.
For instance, I've found out that you can boil oatmeal from one of those just-add-water packets until it flows down the sides of the mug and gloms all over the microwave plate. (Interestingly enough, microwave oatmeal can go from a lava-esque consistency and temperature to super glue in seconds.)
I also learned that when cooking instructions say in (teeny-tiny writing!) that cooking times vary based on the strength of your microwave, they aren't kidding. My noodles took an extra 10 minutes to cook, and that wasn't just because I kept opening the microwave to check on their progress.
But the epitome of my dorm-cooking adventures has been realizing that I can solve a lot of my problems simply by owning a decent can opener.
When I came back from Christmas break armed with a cardboard box full of cooking utensils, I had a cheapie can opener borrowed from my grandma's basement storage. Sorta old-fashioned looking and a little worse for wear, but theoretically still capable of doing the work it was designed for.
The first time I tried to use it was on a can of black beans that I was going to use in a rice/tuna/bean salad-ish thing. Except the can opener couldn't get a grip on the can and on the few occasions that it did, it didn't get much traction. I ended up going around and poking holes in the lid until it was so perforated around the edges that it finally came off.
Helpfully, one of my friends who heard the story of my struggles sent me a YouTube video on how to properly use a can opener. Pretty sure that didn't help my situation, except to make my question everything I've ever known about kitchen utensils. Apparently I've been using can openers wrong my entire life--and getting away with it!
Nevertheless, the can opener trials continued. A week later I wanted to make chicken alfredo. Once again, my dinky little can opener wasn't very effective, except this time I ran out of patience and decided to skip opening cans until I had time to buy a new can opener.
As they say, if it's so broke that duct tape won't fix it, it's broke. (I'm pretty sure that's something people say.)
So two days later, I went to Target (read about my Target struggles HERE), bought a brand spanking new can opener, and opened that darned can of chicken. I proceeded to make myself a kind of cheesy noddle-and-chicken dish. Ate the whole can of chicken, which in hindsight felt like a lot, but portion sizes have never been my forte. That was supper, and I proclaimed myself victorious once and for all over canned food.
Until about 5 a.m. the next morning, when I woke up the next morning with a terrific case of food poisoning. (I assume it was from the chicken, and I assume that in one of my earlier attempts to open the can with my dinky can opener, I actually broke the seal. Because the can failed to leak chicken juice, I thought it was intact and didn't refrigerate it until the next day when I tried and failed again to open it with my dinky opener. Lesson learned.)
So maybe I didn't actually secure victory over canned food. Maybe canned food had the last laugh. Actually, that particular can of chicken had several last laughs on me, because I alternated between puking and hauling my trash, emptying the recycling, washing all my dishes, and breaking out air freshener (for the first time in my LIFE) because my room was haunted with the phantom smell of chicken, and it made me queasy.
Still, based on my current experience in rustling my own grub, I've got some ideas for where I could take this. Given my current status as a microwave chef extraordinaire, what I really need to do next is start a cooking show called "That's Probably Close Enough: Gourmet Microwave Meals."
And then in six months when that's a wild success, I'll start a spin-off show called "Not Recommended: Repurposing Kitchen Tools & Utensils For Various Purposes Not Intended by Manufacturers."
Pretty soon there will be the book deal and some interviews, and my life should be pretty much set from there.
That's just how I roll now that I've got a brand new can opener that actually works.