The Kitchen: Cooking for the Inept

Yan moves too fast for you. Your only appliances are a microwave and a coffee pot. Given the time, you could burn water. You're inept and proud of it. Or else you're sick of microwaved dinners. Whatever the case, here's my contribution to the annals of student-style cooking.

Essential Foods and Seasonings

(what, you expected some sort of order?)

Coffee-Pot Ramen

Pour water into the back of the coffee pot. Put ramen noodles in the carafe. Start the coffee pot. After all the water drips through, let the ramen sit for a few minutes before seasoning and eating.

Good-Smellin' Veggie Ramen

Put water in pot and turn on heat (yes, this one requires a stove or hot plate). While waiting for the water to boil, chop up a carrot, a stalk of celery, a green onion, and a bit of white onion. Toss them into the pot. When your housemate calls, "whatever you're cooking smells great", or, if you live alone, the water starts boiling, add the ramen. Cook for a few minutes. Strain the noodles, but save some of the water to pour back into the bowl. Season. If you're not going for the vegetarian aspect, the chicken flavoring works well; if you are, try Chinese chicken salad-style dressing.
A slightly condensed version of this recipe appears on The Ramen Page.

Hot Chocolate, Without the Packets

Grab favorite mug. Toss in two teaspoons of sugar and one of cocoa. Fill mug with milk. Stir. Nuke.

Reasonably Impressive Pasta

Make the pasta, preferably in some amusing bite-sized shape. (Um, you do know how to make pasta, don't you?) When it's done, add minced onion; minced garlic; olive oil; diced green onion; Italian seasoning blend; dill weed; parmesan cheese; pepper; and whatever else is in arm's reach. Keep going until it looks like it got into the green Manic Panic and went out to play in the snow. Serve piping hot, or chill it and call it pasta salad.

Cathartic Baked Potato

Put a potato in one hand and a fork in the other. Take out your agressions on the potato. Be sure to fok the fokin potato real good, or the fokin potato will fokin explode, and you'll have a fokin mess to deal with. When you feel satisfied, pop the potato in the microwave and nuke for five minutes or so, during which time you can try to deal with your agressions in a more productive way. Maybe a little baked potato will help you think of something.

Remedies for Whatever Ails You

And, of course, what would a list of homemade home remedies be without...

Really Easy Matzo Ball Soup

Locate pots, knives, spoons, refrigerator, and stove. If you can't find any of the above, ask someone for help.

Part One: Matzo Balls

Get a box of Maneshewitz matzo meal (the stuff in the green and orange box) and follow the directions on the side. Well, sort of. Here, do it this way:

Part Two: The Soup

Now, you can go two routes with the basic stock. You can make it yourself, which is very nice but time-consuming and actually involves some skill; or you can get a couple of cans of ready-made broth. Swanson's has a nice one--it's even got a little fat floating at the top, and it's often on sale for 59 cents a can. In addition, using canned broth means you can have the soup an hour after you decided you wanted it, rather than waiting all day. I'm writing the soup directions for canned broth, but you can use an equivalent amount of the homemade stuff.

Part Three: Putting It All Together

When the soup's ready, add the matzo balls. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Eat up, it's good for you.

Be sure the dishes get done.

Throw away the chicken fat. You're never going to make that schmaltz, and better to have a container for the soup leftovers.


While you're waiting for the matzo ball mixture to set, get out a nice, big pot. Dump in the broth and turn the flame on the lowest setting. Chop up and toss in an onion; a couple of green onions; some dried, minced garlic; a carrot or two; a stalk of celery; and some dill (preferably fresh, but dried is just fine).

Follow directions as described above. Taste frequently and adjust as necessary.

Before you serve, scoop out about half the veggies with a slotted spoon. There's really not much point to matzo ball soup if there's no room for matzo balls.

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Rose Ellen Auerbach