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Putting Chef Gusteau’s Famous Phrase to the Test

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how this whole cooking thing works, but I’m not here to give you a list of new recipes that I’ve perfected. I am going to tell you about my often messy cooking journey. 

Like many students, I finally moved into my own apartment, and until now, I’ve been reliant on my school meal plan, frozen dinners, pasta, and restaurants to feed myself. If I’m completely honest, my eating and exercise habits have not been the greatest throughout quarantine, and being away from so many of my friends and family this past year has taken a toll on my body and mental health. So, this summer, I decided to start learning how to cook and start boosting my endorphins through exercise! I’m putting my determination and Ratatouille icon, Chef Gusteau’s, famous motto, “Anyone can cook,” to the test. I want to live more sustainably by focusing on where I am buying my food, eliminating plastic wrapped items as much as possible, and my overall health.

The Challenge

In my first week of this “challenge,” I’ve been to the gym four times (which is a lot in my busy schedule) and made my first few recipes. On Monday afternoon, I decided to use the Mealime app to create my first meal plan. I don’t have the pro version, so I use the free recipes, but there are a TON! If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or have food allergies, this app is perfect for you too. With the app, you can select your food preferences, dietary restrictions, and allergies, so it filters them out of your feed. I’m allergic to shellfish, and I’m not a huge fan of olives, so the app doesn’t show many recipes with these ingredients. Looking in my fridge this week, I think it is the most colorful it has been in a long time!

How Do You Dice?

At 8:00 AM, before the first day of my internship, I felt ambitious, and I cooked my first meal. I chose the “simplest” recipe, the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. I thought chopping up some ingredients would be easy, but I quickly realized my knife was dull, and I had no idea how to properly and quickly dice. Trying not to get too frustrated, I clumsily sliced up the cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, and onion for the salad. Wishing I had some form of eye protection, tears trickled down my cheeks as I wiped pieces of red onion into the mixing bowl. 

OOPS

My first mistake was forgetting to mix the ingredients for the dressing before putting my diced ingredients in the mixing bowl. I didn’t realize this until I added my final ingredient to the mix, so I had to use my hands to make sure the garlic, olive oil, and other ingredients were well distributed throughout the salad.

Overall, the main challenge was cleaning up afterward, but the mess was totally worth it. The salad was delicious, and I am excited to make this again! I’d definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to try something new, especially since it doesn’t involve cooking in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop. 

Recipes From the First Two Weeks

  • Mediterranean Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Pineapple-Salmon Teriyaki Stir-Fry with Broccoli & Green Onion
  • Chicken, Peach, & Spinach Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Spicy Peruvian Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes & Cilantro
  • Bunless Beef Burgers with Sauteed Sweet Potatoes
  • Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato, Pear, Coconut Milk & Lime
  • Chickpea, Egg, & Avocado Chopped Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

*Originally posted on Synergies*

Isabel Crews

C of C '23

Isabel is a sophomore at the College of Charleston and is triple majoring in International Studies, Communications, and French! When she’s not in class or studying, you can find her sipping coffee, telling stories, discussing social justice, or planning her next international adventure.
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