Oberlin Blogs

He Cooks, He Cleans

October 20, 2009

Will Mason ’10

This is the first time I've been in Oberlin during a vacation period, and I think that rather than describe what it's like to see the college turned into a ghost town, I'll let Vincent Price show you:

Fortunately, the still-extant fall here has been beautiful, and I've been hanging out with a few friends who also survived the Zombie Apocalypse. Fall break in Oberlin presents a highly useful time to decompress, to read, to practice, and to accomplish a few outdated goals. And to try my hand at cooking a real meal.

I've been cooking for myself all semester, but cooking in an extremely loose sense--microwavable items, lentils, cereal. Saying that I'm a chef based on that track record is akin to saying that I'm a classically-trained singer because I screeched my way through two years of Aural Skills. I keep meaning to cook something more substantive, but the time required to cook a good meal has proven elusive this semester. Zombie Apocalypse to the rescue! Yesterday I set out to find a recipe that a) used fall veggies, like squash, and b) was cheap + easy. I found a recipe for penne with acorn squash and roasted garlic; the very first sentence in the recipe was "This recipe is easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious." Okay, recipe book. It's a date.

Here are the ingredients, including perhaps the cheapest and worst-tasting bottle of white wine ever. (What I originally saw as a "bonus" in the recipe--that it called for 2/3 of a cup of white wine and would thus leave me with 1 bottle - 2/3 cup to dispose of however I pleased--ended up with me trying to pawn off a bottle of "not cat urine, I swear" onto my friends who came over for dinner.)

Ingredients laid out on the kitchen counter

The acorn squash, which was delicious but a bit overcooked for what the recipe needed.

Cooked squash on a baking tray

Roasted garlic added to the white wine and olive oil to make the sauce. I won't tell you how many times I burned my hands making this component of the meal, but there were times where I truly believed that penne + acorn squash would end my music career.

Garlic in a pan

Now, I don't have any photos of the finished product. In the rush to serve everything I forgot to take a photo, but this is probably for the best: while it tasted great, in presentation it looked like an acorn squash that suffered a tragic pasta-related accident, or a child's cute and pathetic pasta dinner, cooked in an attempt to get Mommy and Daddy's attention for but one fleeting moment. But there will be a rematch: I bought a casserole dish, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Alright, a little bit afraid. Frozen pizza, I'm sorry I left you! That acorn squash--she meant nothing to me! I devoted two hours of labor to produce an abomination against God and nature! Sure, you taste like cardboard and have all the nutrition of a sack of sand, but you and I--we were meant to be together.

Responses to this Entry

Will, I think the operative phrase is "It tasted great." Everything else is superfluous.

Glad you're giving Zombie Apocalypse a chance. Personally, I love Oberlin without the high-density population--it's good to slow down for awhile. And it is, as you say, pretty gorgeous at the moment.

Posted by: David on October 20, 2009 3:56 PM

True, but I nevertheless feel like my career as a gourmet cook is probably off to a bad start. I also feel compelled, in the midst of so many posts from Ma'ayan and others about beautiful, delicious works of edible art that they've created in their co-ops, to show how those of us with less facility in the culinary arts live.

I sent an e-mail home to my Dad asking how he got by cooking for himself in college. His answer: "Take a potato. Put it in the oven for an hour. If times are good and you're flush with cash, put some butter on the potato afterward. Eat."

Posted by: Will on October 20, 2009 6:11 PM

Just learned about this new internet cooking show from two recent OC grads. Maybe it will inspire you:


Posted by: David on October 20, 2009 8:17 PM

Winter term freshman year (I stayed on campus) was the first time in my life I had to roll up my sleeves and try my hand in the kitchen...

...and I managed to completely screw up EasyMac.

How?! I'm sure you might wonder...miraculous as it might sound, I just dumped the macaroni in a bowl without water and tried to microwave that.

Pathetic. I've come a long way since then - though I still have plenty long to go, too. Anyway, nicely done on the acorn squash, though. I've bought those ambitiously on a few occasions and then just let them spoil because I couldn't figure out what to do with them.

Posted by: Yitka on October 21, 2009 12:07 AM

God, if you put that much garlic into that much wine (even if it is crappy wine) I don't think you're going to end up with a taste disaster. Also, I freaking love squash. Your meal sounds incredibly tasty.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on October 21, 2009 10:42 AM

Om nom nom! Squash is so tasty this time of year. I'm a huge fan.

Posted by: Helena Thompson on October 28, 2009 2:41 AM

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