Cooking (for Teens): Not as Much Fun as it Sounds

A microwave. (With a funny caption)Remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle? It took a while, and you probably mortally wounded yourself a couple of times, but after you learned, you realized you wouldn’t ever forget.

See, we all like things like that: you learn them once, and you don’t forget. Reading, talking, walking, flying, mind-reading, etc.; once learned, you don’t ever have to re-learn it (some of you lesser beings, though, may not ever learn them in the first place).

But cooking is scary for two reasons. First, it’s not like mind-reading; learning how to cook makes life easier. Secondly, you can’t learn it. Ever.

See, you learn to cook forever. Sure, you might know how to make spaghetti and meatballs, but unless you want to eat that for three meals a day for the rest of your life, you’re not done learning*. And we both hate learning.

*Not that there is anything wrong with that. Especially when you get to college.

Plus, there are a number of exceptionally bad parts to cooking.

The Oven

The oven is this futuristic metal cabinet where you are not actually supposed to store anything in, including dishes, pets, plants, pet plants, and explosives. Instead, the oven is to remain empty, taking up space, save for the hours you use it to cook.

Obviously, then, to make it seem like a more worthwhile use of space, you should use the oven whenever you can, for: meats, fish, things that need to be heated, things that need to be cooked, and school projects that you hate and/or need an authentic crispiness.

Additionally, most ovens have tops. These tops get hot. To make them hot, you can turn the control dials. However, none of these dials make any sense; they have numerical markings, usually from 1 to 8 or 9. That is not helpful. I mean, how do you know whether to use “3” or “7” when grilling something? You don’t, and this is the number two cause of anxiety disorder amongst teens, I believe.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the ‘off’ switch. But there is not just one off switch. Oh, no. There is an off switch for each of the circles on the oven top, an off switch for the oven, an off switch for the warming drawer, and an off switch for the warming circle on the oven top. Plus, thanks to the engineers who built the ovens, the ‘on’ switch for each of those is right next to the off switch.

This means that you will never be sure if the oven is off. You might leave the house never having touched the oven since four weeks ago when your parents/you decided you would learn how to cook and then promptly gave up, but it doesn’t matter, because if the oven is on the house will probably burn down and that will ruin all chances for world peace.

Needless to say, the solution is that once you’ve become a ‘chef’ and learned about the oven, you should never leave the house. If you really need to leave the house, take the oven with you.

The Recipe Instructions

Okay, so you’ve finally managed to figure out how to use the oven without burning down the house (probably around your third or fourth house or so). Now you are ready to move on to the next step: following a recipe.

See, most cook books include recipe instructions that go like this: they show you a list of the needed ingredients, then they have the preparation steps, and then they show you a picture of the finished product that is so mouth watering and appetizing that many amateur cooks just cut out that picture and serve/eat it instead. Oh, that picture will also make you feel terrible when you compare your result to it, thus creating another detrimental psychological condition that could have been avoided if cooking had never been invented.

The hardest part about following recipes, though, is the vocabulary. Sure, thanks to that horror known as English class you know what words like detrimental, psychological, and condition mean, but you probably won’t know any of these.

In an effort to make your life easier, I’ve compiled a list of the most common words and their definitions:

  • Boil: to put in water that is bubbling. Also a painful skin condition. Use “Context Clues” to figure out which is the intended meaning.
  • Broil: a common typo due to the fact that the letter ‘r’ on a keyboard is nowhere near the letters ‘b’ or ‘o’ or ‘i’ or ‘l.’ Boil is intended; see above.
  • Preheat: turn the oven on. Or maybe the range top. Or possibly the warming drawer. Or all three.
  • Puree: A French word. Like most French things, it is a fine detail and can probably be ignored.
  • Baste: Don’t worry about it. It’s more complicated than the Higgs Boson particle.

The Final Product

As a beginning cook, and a teen, your final product will probably not taste very good. That’s if you’re lucky, of course; in extreme cases it will lead to food poisoning, vomiting, choking, or a broken tooth.

Furthermore, you will have created an installment in your kitchen known to the masses as ‘modern art’ and known to your parents as a ‘mess.’ Because of the teen code, though, you are not allowed to even think about cleaning up this mess for another week.

Clearly, learning cooking is nothing like learning to ride a bike. The good news is, bike riding is a more useful skill; with a bike, you can become a take-out delivery person and hopefully get enough of an employee discount that you will never have to worry about cooking when you go off to college. You’ll have more important things to worry about, I hear, like affording food.

Hopefully, instead of cooking, you’re going on vacation. In which case, you might want to know about “4 Annoying Airplane Regulations for Teens,” which was covered last year at this time. Also, I must say, the picture accompanying that one is pretty good.

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  1. “If you really need to leave the house, take the oven with you.” – lol. Nice post, Phil.

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