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Beware of letting too many chefs spoil the meal

Cooking for myself is one thing; cooking for three extra mouths is something I haven’t gotten used to yet. This past weekend my skills of cooking for many people were put to the test when my boyfriend and two of our friends decided to visit me.

I have had a few weeks of cooking and was doing well enough to at least survive until my next meal. But I have yet to master the skill of giving myself enough food to have leftovers for my next lunch or dinner, let alone feed three consistently hungry guys.

These guests had visited me before, and like me, they had been spoiled by the Flex 14 dining hall plan we’d all had. I used to be able to live off of Easy Mac and West 82 the week before anyone came down to visit me.

Then, for the entire weekend, I would take my extra meals and show them the wonders of Shively Dining Hall. Not only were they spoiled by massive amounts of food, but they didn’t even have to pay for their meals.

When I was planning to host company for the first time this year, I figured I could survive by having us eat uptown for all of our meals. I certainly wasn’t planning to cook them any meals, so I didn’t buy any food for them to eat.

For the first few meals, I got away with taking them out for late-night Big Mamma’s and to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. A few hours after lunch, they wanted another meal and they did not want to go out and eat.

So after they shot down my suggestions of having some cereal or just waiting a while longer and eating at the football game, I had to start rummaging through the food I had. After going through my small selection of supplies, I got everyone to agree on the perfect meal: simple and quick spaghetti and salad.

I had already eaten half of the box of spaghetti earlier in the week, so I only had half a box left. I boiled the water and added a little bit of salt to it — I think it’s supposed to get the water to boil faster or something along those lines. Once it boiled, I broke the spaghetti in half and threw it into the pot.

One thing that I didn’t realize I’d have to deal with when cooking for other people was them trying to “help.” The version of “help” I was getting was the criticism and questioning of every move I made in the kitchen. After a few comments along the lines of “Did you wait for it to boil?” and “Are you sure you broke those in half? It doesn’t look like it,” I sent them to the living room so I could cook in peace.

As I was getting ready to take my jar of spaghetti sauce out of the refrigerator, I realized that because I only had half a box of spaghetti, I also only had half a jar of sauce.

This was not the predicament I wanted to be in while receiving more statements along the lines of “Is it almost ready yet?” and “I’m starving.” I decided that half a jar would have to do and heated it up on the stove.

The rule of our apartment is that you have to do your own dishes. That has created a hatred for seemingly unnecessary dishes; I don’t want to wash more dishes than I have to. That list includes a few items such as serving spoons, lids for pans and the item recommended for this meal: a strainer.  I didn’t want to wash one.

Instead of getting the strainer out and dumping the pasta in, I carefully poured the extra water out while holding a fork in front of the noodles. That method was an absolute success: I didn’t lose a single noodle.

I pulled some salad, shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese and ranch dressing out of the fridge and called the boys to let them know dinner was ready. After I told them to go light on the sauce, they started eating and I prepared myself for my first food review.

While their thoughts weren’t as insightful as the comments on Top Chef, the food was edible and met the approval of their taste buds.

They even went back for seconds, despite the fact that they had to scrape the bottom of the pan for more sauce.  

Mesha Baylis-Blalock is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. What should she attempt to cook next? Email her



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