Ever since I can remember, Wednesdays have always been pasta day in our house. I always found it really peculiar that we had a pasta day in an asian household. I mean, think about it, how many asian families do you know that doesn’t eat white rice everyday and even worse, that eats pasta EVERY Wednesday? I, personally, don’t know any other asian household, but I guess it has to do less with the fact that we’re asian and more with the fact that my mom absolutely LOVES Italian cooking. So, in the honor of awesome Wednesday Pasta Day, the first meal I did was a LASAGNA (because it happened to be January 3rd, a Wednesday).
My first mission was fairly simple: Find a good looking recipe that was easy to do, do it and try not to make it taste awful or burn it. I decided to lower my expectations on the outcome as much as possible just so I can gage my current cooking level and see how much work I needed to get a passing grade. The recipe we (my girlfriend and I) followed was entitled THE MOST AMAZING LASAGNA RECIPE and I think, overall, it went well.
So, one thing that I learnt from this was that grocery shopping can be expensive as HELL if you don’t plan in advance. I always wondered why my mom would constantly look at supermarket flyers, but now I know why, it’s because regular priced goods are pretty expensive.
Lesson/Tip: Plan your meals in advance or build your meals around weekly sales if you want to save money (don’t we all?)
The second thing I learned was that there were two kinds of pasta. So for all you non-cooks reading this, let me enlighten you about cooking pasta. Now, let’s just say that my knowledge of pasta was about -1 so when I saw that the recipe called for “lasagna pasta”, I simply assumed that there was just 1 type of pasta. And I know, I’m not talking about whole grain, smart, white and vegetable based pasta because those I KNEW existed (because of my excellent observation skills at the supermarket), but I always assumed that all pastas were cooked the same. You boil the water, put a bit of salt, dump the pastas in and wait until they’re al dente (had to at least put 1 Italian word in this post…). So was it a shock to me when we finally bought the pasta and when we read the recipe it said “Let them soak in hot tap water for 30 minutes”. I found it weird at first, but hey, who was I with my -1 knowledge to judge what the recipe said. So, I just followed the recipe through and while I was constructing the lasagna, I could feel that the pasta was still a bit hard, but decided to trust the process and follow through. After it was done cooking, I set the finished product on top of the stove, and I could feel my touch that the borders were HELLA hard and I got so mad because I was like “Man, I knew that this soaking was sketch, I should have followed my guts and just boiled the pasta the regular way, the ONLY way”. But, since we didn’t want to waste the lasagna, we still decided to eat it and when I went to cut the lasagna, expecting to find resistance against the knife, the strangest thing happened as the knife just went through the lasagna as if it was hot butter. Well, turns out that the lasagna was actually super soft on the inside and that I simply overcooked the lasagna, which is why the edges were burnt and hard.
Lesson/Tip: For baked pasta dishes, you can simply soak your pasta in hot tap water for 30 minutes instead of waiting for the water to boil.
Lesson/Tip#2: Also, there is such a thing as “ready-pasta”, which lets you put them directly in the oven without soaking or boiling them (so now, there are actually 2 types of pasta and there is more than 1 way to cook them).
Lesson#3: I really don’t know anything about cooking. Knowledge: -2
The last thing I learned was that cooking is not THAT complicated when you have a good recipe to follow. Now, I don’t want to disrespect everyone who cooks at home and I’m not talking about being the best home cook out there, but simply put, having a decent meal can be easily achieved if you find a good recipe. Now, of course, you also need to know how to FOLLOW a recipe (like baking the lasagna for 30 minutes and not 37 minutes in fear that the pasta wasn’t well cooked), but I think my first attempt at a real meal was quite successful and I am looking forward to cooking again !
Lesson/Tip: Don’t underestimate your abilities to make decent food.
There ya go, I hope you enjoy this post and the next recipe I’m making is… Tacos ! I’m a big fan of authentic tacos so I’m looking forward to my next food adventure and hope that you are too.