Cooking with Claire: The final course

Here's a list of a few pieces of advice to remember to keep with you as you continue your culinary education.  (Basheer Tome/Flickr Creative Commons)

Here's a list of a few pieces of advice to remember to keep with you as you continue your culinary education.  (Basheer Tome/Flickr Creative Commons)

I am graduating next week and entering the world where dining halls cease to exist and ramen noodles are no longer socially acceptable. On the last day of my column, I didn’t want to include another recipe. That’s not memorable and, who are we kidding, Pinterest has all the recipes you’ll ever need or want. Instead, I’m leaving you with a few tips and pieces of advice to carry with you as you continue your culinary education.

1. You’re not perfect: You will always make a mistake. Especially if you are cooking a whole meal, something will always go wrong. The sooner you accept that, the less stressed out you will be. My mom, who has more than 40 years of cooking experience, ruined the bread at a family party a few months back. It happens.

2. You’re still learning: You have decades ahead of you to learn everything you’ll need to know. You will hit milestones, like the first time you have to entertain a new boyfriend but have less than $10 to spend on groceries, the first Thanksgiving dinner with more than 10 attendees and the first time you have to feed a child that only eats orange foods that rhyme with “yum.” You’ll never stop learning, even after you graduate.

3. Know your audience: Before you check your pantry, make your grocery list and fill the shopping cart, be sure you know who is attending your event and what they eat. Ask around to know about allergies and preferences. If half of your party is allergic to peanuts, then Thai peanut noodles probably aren’t the way to go. You are putting all this work into a meal, so make sure every one of your partygoers can eat it.

4. Leave your comfort zone: Cook foods you’ve never eaten before. Cook dishes that seem like 90 percent work and 10 percent enjoyment. Bake desserts that probably have 10,000 calories. Cook something different. It will be an experience at the very least and you might be able to say you have a new favorite food.

5. Have fun: Cooking shouldn’t be the worst part of your day. If it is, reevaluate your process. Are you cooking something too difficult? Are you cooking something that other people like, but you don’t? Are you cooking the same thing every day? Cooking, for me at least, is a combination of three things. First, I cook because I need to eat. Second, I cook because food tastes good. And, finally, I cook because it’s an entertaining, creative outlet for me. Do what you like to do.

I hope that after a year together, my readers can at the very least claim they can cook and are decent at it. I hope I have inspired you, amused you or, at the very least, given you one new recipe or tip. Good luck in the kitchen. Thank you for reading.


Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.