While everyone else was out having a life this weekend, I spent most of mine in pajamas, practicing new tips and tricks in the kitchen and watching TV. All within three days, Tom and I managed to cook the best breakfast for dinner we’ve ever had, screw it up the next morning, cut up a chicken for the first time, watch 90s Nickelodeon commercials for hours, and sorta-kinda fail at frying chicken (it ended with me ugly-crying in Tom’s arms and hoping we didn’t get Salmonella – spoiler: we didn’t).
Tom and I woke up Monday morning exhausted, yet all the more educated. Here’s what we learned:
1. Cutting a whole chicken into eight pieces is difficult
I was really grateful to have Tom in the kitchen with me this weekend, especially when it came time to cutting a whole chicken. I must have watched an instructional video five times before actually doing it, and I STILL needed to watch it as I went. So, you can imagine how nice it was to have someone press play and pause on command. But the most challenging aspect of cutting a chicken was lacking the right set of tools. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chef’s knife, so we had to put some elbow grease into it. Make sure you do the following when cutting a chicken for the first time:
- Use a chef’s knife for almost all of the cutting
- Poultry shears come in handy when cutting the breast bone
- When cutting for the first time, have an assistant in the kitchen with you while you watch this ten times:
2. Millennials don’t eat cereal anymore – and it’s not because we’re too lazy
I read an article on Friday saying Millennials didn’t eat cereal anymore. The reason? We’re too lazy to wash our spoon and bowl. Crazy, right? I didn’t buy into it, either. Well, after gorging on 90s commercials this weekend, I was convinced the article was a fallacy. There’s a reason we aren’t eating cereal anymore, and it’s not because we’re too lazy… it’s because we were eating dessert for breakfast. I mean, come on, do any of you remember what a “complete and balanced breakfast” was considered in the 90s? A bowl of sugar and milk, orange juice, and a plate full of buttery toast. Sure, it was delicious, but no wonder I was sleeping at my desk by 10AM in grade school – I was crashing.
But don’t blame mom. She thought SlimFast was a meal.
3. Water in the skillet is the best trick for cooking perfect bacon
Cooking bacon in a skillet can be really messy. But I read a little trick to eliminate the majority of splatter from bacon grease sizzling on the stove: adding water. What you want to do is start off with a cold skillet. Line your bacon up in the skillet and then pour enough water in to cover the bottom. Then, put your skillet on the stove, turn to medium-high heat, and wait for the water to boil off (about eight minutes). Make sure to flip your bacon once within those eight minutes. Then, once the water is almost completely evaporated, turn your heat down to medium and flip until crispy. Easy-peasy.
4. The most frustrating way to cook chicken is by frying it
But it can have a yummy outcome, if you do it the right way…
Hey, here’s an interesting fact: oil heats up quicker than water because the heat capacity of oil is lower than the heat capacity of water. I’m really smart and totally knew that…
Yeah, so frying chicken can be easy if you can get the oil at the right temperature, which is really difficult to measure. Tom discovered an easy way to do it, though. Try dipping a wooden spoon into the oil – if it bubbles, it’s ready. I suggest turning your heat to medium and testing with the wooden spoon a couple minutes into heating the oil. Then, once your oil is ready, give the chicken 10-12 minutes to fry. The trick is making sure the oil isn’t too hot, or else your breading will burn and your chicken won’t cook thoroughly… (cue my ugly-crying)
In short: This weekend was an emotional roller coaster in the kitchen. Let’s face it – teaching yourself how to cook isn’t a walk in the park; you’re going to fail at times. But it’s important to laugh at the failures and celebrate the successes – even the minor ones.
Oh, and one last tip: if all else fails, old Nickelodeon cartoons are always the best remedy for a happy ending.