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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Many people have heard the stereotype that college students have a diet that consists entirely of ramen noodles. Before college, those delicious instant packages were the primary meal I cooked, from Indomie stir-fry noodles to Shin ramen. Thus, I would not have considered myself a chef. 

However, during the pandemic when TikTok started gaining popularity, I began to see more cooking videos on my feed. This stream of cooking videos and users then bled onto my Instagram “explore” page. In 2020, dalgona coffee (Korean whipped coffee) became viral along with the feta cheese pasta recipe. TikTok became a new way for creators to share food they like and their recipes. I started saving videos and getting inspired by the food content.

When I moved to Davis, it allowed me to be more independent. I did not have my parents making dinner each night anymore, so I learned to cook and explore the things I learned online. Davis is a great place to live for new chefs because there are so many different places to buy produce (also, because eating out is pricey): the Farmer’s Market, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Kim’s Market, etc. The campus also offers free produce for UC Davis students in the Pantry!

Pineapple Syrup
Original photo by Kayla Ngai

For people beginning to experiment with their cooking, I suggest learning to make a few different side dishes. Big and complicated meals can be a little intimidating at first, but some small add-ons can enhance your cooking. For example, instead of the classic butter, I have been adding syrups with my toast as a sweet breakfast alternative. I have been experimenting with making syrups with fruit and sugar. I found @johnnykyunghwo’s video on making peach Cheong most helpful as it does not require a scale (which I do not have). My friend and I applied his method to make pineapple syrup for pineapple fried rice. Additionally, I made a mango syrup and mixed it with water to create a fruity drink. My favorite was making peach syrup and adding that to my matcha latte. I am having trouble preventing them from fermentation, but part of the fun is trial and error. Next, I am trying to make fig syrup!

Pickled Veggies
Original photo by Kayla Ngai

A few days ago, I pickled some red onions and serrano peppers. They turned out great! I recommend @testkitchen’s video on pickled vegetables. So far, I have added pickled vegetables to toast, sandwiches, and rice paper wraps. The brine can also be utilized to season meat or reused to make more pickled veggies. 

Garlic Confit
Original photo by Kayla Ngai

Through @daenskitchen’s video, garlic confit is very easy to make! I put it on toast and sandwiches. This recipe can help you explore different spices and oils. Although the original video I followed uses only thyme to add flavor to the confit, I learned to put my own twists. 

Tiktok has given me a new hobby. I attempted ratatouille today and it was delicious, so I will make it again. Rockfish is great to pan-fry and put in soups. Different kinds of pasta are always a staple. Furthermore, lemon zest can be applied to enhance various dishes. Be creative and try new things! 

Some other TikTokers I follow are: @tiffycooks, @amycooksfood, @iankewks

Kayla is an English major at UCD. She enjoys reading, trying different foods, and watching tv with her cats.