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Cooking with Mike: Meet my Boyfriend (aka Food)

Hey ladies! Nice to meet you all. I’m Mike and I’m new around here. The fine gals in charge of HC Pitt have allowed me to start my very own food blog on their website, so look for weekly posts from me about all things edible. I’m hoping to include some of my own cooking stories and tips as well as input on local restaurants and grocers around Pittsburgh and any interesting foodie stuff (like recipes!) I might find floating around the Internet.

Now, since I’m a complete stranger to most of you, I figured it’d be nice to share a little bit about my background (don’t worry, I won’t bore you – just the basics). I’m from Buffalo, NY, and I’m currently a fifth-year Global Management major in Pitt’s undergraduate business school (wow, one sentence – I’m good!). I’m a man of many interests, but my heart belongs to Food. I use a capital “F” when I write the word “Food” because then I can say things like “my heart belongs to Food” and pretend I’m in a relationship with someone special. Sigh.

Anyways, back to Food (my boyfriend). I haven’t always been so enamored with it. In fact, it’s only been since I moved into my first apartment three years ago that I’ve been able to fully explore my love for all things edible. And yet, mixed in with all the excitement of being able to cook in my very own kitchen I distinctly remember a tinge of anxiety. Some might even call it debilitating fear. What do I cook? And how do I cook it? These questions and more swirled around my head for weeks after moving into that first apartment.

Cooking makes many of us anxious at first because we’re used to a long-distance relationship with Food, meaning that while we enjoy its company it’s usually prepared behind closed doors or with minimum effort on our parts. This means that when our college years roll around and we’re finally afforded the freedom to be as intimate as we want with Food (I’m seriously loving this metaphor), oftentimes we just don’t know what to do. So we play it safe. We learn how to make one or two things really well early on – and maybe some of you never even turn the stove on to do it – and, inevitably, we fall into an easy rhythm with our Food that quickly becomes a very boring, very unromantic rut.

Say what? Yeah, I went there. You’re only twenty-odd years old and you’re already in a burnt-out relationship. But here’s the kicker: there’s a simple fix.

Well, it’s more of a two-pronged attack. First, try and spend just a little more time each week with Food. How would you feel if your significant other made *you* one of his lowest priorities? Our healthiest and most enjoyable relationships are the ones we devote the most time to, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that neglected relationships rarely bring us any pleasure. Let’s face it, college is an insanely busy time in our lives. Between classes, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and our significant others, we barely have enough time left to take a breath, let alone plan out and prepare a home-cooked meal.

And, while I certainly can’t tell you how much time you should be spending in in the kitchen each week, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a little bit of wiggle room for us to work with. Instead of watching One Direction music videos on YouTube, take just a few minutes to surf the massive recipe banks at websites like FoodNetwork.com or CookingChannelTV.com. The great thing about cooking is that everything you learn is useful. Even if all you do is research the common uses of a single herb or spice, you’ve still taken one more step toward becoming master of your own kitchen.

Second, don’t be afraid to spice it up by cooking something completely new and unexpected. There are tons of incredibly easy and unique recipes out there, and I guarantee you haven’t tried a single one of
them. When’s the last time you made pizza from scratch? Bringing newness back into the kitchen is sure to reignite that tender flame. It’s similar (I’m told) to when women buy lacy bras and panties to wear to bed with those special men in their lives. Wait, girls *do* do that, right? I’m just going off of what I’ve learned from movies like Mean Girls.

Whatever you decide, please remember that “new” doesn’t have to mean “expensive.” Those pricey scallops can wait for a *really* special occasion. Instead, why not try your hand at simple and inexpensive classics like lasagna or chicken pot pie that’ll last you through the week (unless you’ve got crazy hungry roommates like me). Even if this isn’t your first time making them, there are still plenty of fun twists you can use in your cooking. Bacon and egg lasagna anyone?

Of course, all this jibber-jabber assumes that you, my reader, enjoy cooking and have a kitchen at your disposal. So what happens if only one – or neither! – applies to you? Well, that’s a discussion for a different day. One thing I *can* tell you, though, is that Food is an incredibly accommodating partner. All he wants is to spend quality time with you. And if you’re willing to make just a few tweaks here and there to your eating habits, your relationship with Food is sure to blossom.

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