Leaving Home – Setting Up a New Kitchen

A Couple of Simple Tips Will Get You Started Cooking

To do your own cooking, especially when starting out, you don’t need to know a lot of recipes. In fact, you only need to know how to make two or three different dishes, and then you can “mix these up” – change them around as required. We’re going to show you some dishes that have the basics – chicken or fish, potatoes or rice or couscous, and vegetables. Here are some tips that will work very well for you.

Items you will need:

– Non-Saucepan with lid
– Non-stick Frying Pan with lid
– Tongs (try Bed, Bath and Beyond)
– Wooden Spoons
– Measuring jug for cups
– Oven Mitt

– Soy Sauce
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
– Worcestershire Sauce
– Salt
– Pepper
– Fish seasoning
– Boneless Chicken Breast
– White fish filet
– Red/Green Peppers
– Sweet Potatoes
– Onions
– Carrots
– Bok Choy
– A package of peeled garlic cloves
– Rice-a-Roni, several boxes
– Couscous: it comes in jars

Preparing your meal

Mostly, you need to make the rice and vegetables first and then prepare and cook the chicken or fish second. That’s the order we’ll go in here.



Until you get used to cooking rice on its own, try Rice-a Roni. There are many different flavors. Just follow the directions on the box. You’ll need a saucepan, a measuring cup, and some butter. Here is a superb tip: cook your vegetables with the Rice-a-Roni. Whether it’s carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beans, squash, just add them to the rice/water mixture as soon as it starts boiling, wait for the boiling to start again, and then timing according to the directions on the box. You’ll get a nice rice-vegetable mixture every time, and it goes down very well.


Couscous tastes great but few people seem to have heard of it or use it, which is surprising as it is about the easiest thing in the kitchen to cook. Couscous looks a bit like fine yellow rice. You boil a cup of water in a saucepan, and after it boils turn off the heat, add one cup of couscous and just leave it for 5 minutes. How easy is that? Want to mix it up? Instead of water use vegetable stock, or wine. Just make sure the wine boils for a minute to get rid of all the alcohol!

Roasted vegetables

If you have an oven, you can roast vegetables, and they will taste great. Turn on your oven to 425 degrees F. Take any or all the following – sliced sweet potatoes (you need to slice them pretty thin, so they cook through), carrots, onions, bok choy, red and green peppers, garlic cloves, and so on. Cut all into bite-size pieces. Lay the vegetables on a baking tray (one usually comes with the oven), sprinkle over with EVOO and salt, and mix the vegetables all around with your hands. It will cover your hands with EVOO/salt EVOO/salt mix, but you want to get all the vegetables covered. Put the baking tray in the oven and leave for about 40 minutes. Make sure to use an oven mitt when taking the tray out, it will be HOT.



Buy boneless chicken breasts. You can buy them in packs, frozen, and take out as many as you need, when you need them. Or, you can buy boneless chicken breasts fresh, on sale at the supermarket, and freeze them yourself. Pack each breast in a sandwich baggie, squeezing out the air, and just throw them in the freezer. When you need to use them, pull out as many as you need and defrost them in a blow of water.

When it’s time to prepare your meal, cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces. Heat up in a frying pan enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) to cover the bottom of the pan. Throw in the chicken on a low-to-medium heat and let it start simmering. Add some soy sauce and some Worcestershire sauce to taste, maybe a little salt as well. Also, add in some garlic cloves. (You can never have too many of those). Put on a lid if you have one and let the chicken simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes until it’s cooked through. Then serve it with your potatoes or rice and vegetables. The secret with this recipe is not to get too much liquid in there. After you’ve made it a couple of times you’ll learn how to work it properly.


Fish can be a little more expensive. We have a Hispanic supermarket chain near us which seems to have a better selection of meat products than other places, and one of the items they offer is frozen boneless bass. Any filleted white fish will do. Again, if you can buy a few pounds frozen and keep it, you’ll always have some ready. White fish can be cooked in much the same way as chicken, but it does not need cooking for nearly as long. Simmer it up in some EVOO. Instead of the Worcestershire sauce, instead try the Fish Seasoning that you can find with the spices at any food store. Fish just needs cooking for a few minutes.


After practicing these recipes a couple of times you’ll get the timing down. Before you serve up, make sure you preheat the plates. You can put the plates in the oven for about three minutes if you’ve had the oven on, or else run the plates under hot water for a minute each to take the chill off them.

Good luck with your cooking skills and check back for more ideas!

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