35 Real-Life Cooking Tips For The New Grad (Or Any Other Inept Chef)

Cup O' Noodles is not real food. Sorry. Image: Thinkstock.

Cup O' Noodles is not real food. Sorry. Image: Thinkstock.

You are going to probably mess a lot of things up.

It's June. Some of us will be graduating from things (high school, college, med school, from the size 1 Diva Cup to size 2, whatever).

As we move ahead in life, some people will need some help in the kitchen.

Also, some people just need help in the kitchen regardless.

I present: All the crap I learned by screwing things up in the kitchen.

1. The easiest way to remove pieces of eggshell from eggs is to use the eggshell.

I know. What is logic?

2. When you're reheating things in the microwave, push the food to edges and leave a hole in the middle.

Trust me.

3. Roll a lemon or lime around before you cut it.

Or microwave it for 15 seconds. JUICY.

4. Make bacon in the oven.

It's faster, and the risk of getting popped by bacon grease is greatly reduced. Put it on a cookie sheet. Put it in the oven and set it for 400°F. Bake for 15 minutes.

#Bacon4Ever #BakeOn4Ever (Except no, just for 15 minutes.)

5. Don't pour bacon grease down your drain.

Just don't.


6. Also, don't put vegetable peels in the drain unless you have a garbage disposal.

They will clog the pipe. You will flood your apartment and the two apartments adjacent to your apartment.

I mean, that's what I hear.

7. Better yet, keep your peels and feed them to your composting worms.

Also give them coffee grounds and some eggshells. Worms aren't very picky.

(Google composting worms. Fascinating.)

8. Frozen cheese grates easier.

Especially mozzarella, which is a real jerk to grate.

9. You do not GRADE cheese — you GRATE cheese.

If you were to grade cheese, it would all get an A.

Because cheese.

10. There are two kinds of gravy: gravy made with flour and gravy made with cornstarch.

The latter is clear(ish) — think Thanksgiving.

The former is like biscuits and gravy, which apparently will give you heart disease.

I think that's a lie.

11. Gravy is made by mixing an oil thing (usually butter or fat), a thickening thing (cornstarch or flour), and a liquid thing (milk, broth, or water).

12. When you mix butter and flour on the stove, it’s called a roux.

Roux” is French for I have no idea what, but it’s the baby of a bunch of sauce things.

13. When you're baking almost anything, mix the dry things (except for sugar) in one bowl, and in another bowl, mix the wet things with the sugar.

Then mix those two things together.

It usually works!

14. Don't beat cookie or cake dough too much.

Better yet, mix it by hand once you get to the final dry + wet stage.

If you beat it too much, your dough will still turn into a baked good, but it will be hard and tough.

Plus, your arm will get tired. That's the price you have to pay.

15. Cookies should cool with ventilation (on a rack).

But peanut butter cookies should cool on foil. Don't ask questions.

16. Make your own frosting. It's not hard, and people are always like,Ooooooahhhhhhh you MADE THIS?”

And you can be all like, Yeah, I FUCKING DID, BITCHES.”

Or something slightly less aggro.

To make white frosting:

Throw a stick and a half (that's 3/4 of a cup) of butter in a mixer.

Add a bag of powdered sugar (slowly, a bit at at a time, or you'll look like you are covered in cocaine).

Splash in some milk. Add some vanilla. Toss is a pinch of salt.

Beat it like you're a 13-year-old who just discovered masturbation. (I WAS A LATE BLOOMER, OK.)

17. Don't be afraid of making yeast-y baked goods.

Just wake the yeast up in some warm water with a bit of sugar.

Do not use hot water! If you use hot water, you will murder the yeast dead, and your bread will be more like clay, and you will blame me.

18. You can put an overripe banana in the freezer with the peel on.

Then when you want to make banana cake (OBVIOUSLY), you just squeeze it out of the peel, like a banana pimple!

19. Baking soda is a leavening agent (see: Bible), while baking powder is a fluffing-up thing.

Don't mix them up, or cakes will look like brownies and/or taste really gross.

20. Baking soda mixed with water can also be used to relieve the heartburn given to you by the biscuits and gravy.

It tastes gross.

21. It can also do a really good job of scrubbing a sink.

Well, you have to do the scrubbing.

But baking soda has your back.

22. It also can put out a grease fire.

Try not to start grease fires, though.

23. To NOT start a grease fire, do NOT mix hot oil and water.

This is bad.

24. Bake on parchment paper.

No more washing cookie sheets. BOOM.

25. Fry things in HOT oil.

You'll know it's hot if a drop of water (not a lot of water — see #25) causes a huge pop and scares the crap out of you.

If you are frying things — which, maybe you aren't because of The “Heart Disease” — don't put them in less-than hot oil or they will be soggy and gross. The end.

26. Generously salt your pasta water. It should taste like the ocean.

If you've never tasted the ocean, I'm sorry your life is so sad.

27. Reserve a cup of said ocean-y water before you drain. That water can go back in the pasta to keep it from getting sticky.

Rachael Ray told me that, and she can't lie, because she's on TV.

28. Root vegetables and brassicas (fancy word for broccoli-type things) are best roasted.

400°F. Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. Garlic, if you're feeling sassy. Oh, asparagus too!

Keep an eye on it. Broccoli takes 20-ish minutes; asparagus, 8.

29. The key to a good cup of tea is water that's just below boiling.

30. Water boils at 212°F (100° Celsius).

You probably already knew that. Especially if you just graduated from college.

If you didn't know that, get your $80K back.

31. The key to a good cup of coffee is to go to Starbucks.

JK, JK! Go old-school hipster — get a pour-over system.

Do the pour in two bursts: one just to wet the beans, and then one filled to the top.

DO NOT DO THREE, or your coffee will taste bitter. Bitter coffee is bad.

32. White wine goes with chicken. Red wine goes with beef. Any wine goes with any appetizer.

Because wine.

33. Apparently, you're not supposed to put milk in eggs when you scramble them.

I'm doing it anyway. Whoever made that rule is silly.

34. Everyone is all KALE KALE KALE. If you're a bandwagon-type person, you can freeze kale for all the smoothies you're going to make with said kale.

35. Cup O' Noodles is not real food.


You are going to probably mess a lot of of things up. I carved chickens upside-down for, like, three years.

Yeah. That happened.

Go forth and cook!

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