Still in disbelief of the value of our purchase, we walked back to our Edinburgh Airbnb hauling £20 worth of ingredients to make 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts for 4 people. According to Mikey we were “balling on a budget” and planned to cook most of our meals to save money. Our lengthy train ride allowed for enough time to plan out our meals, strategically choosing items that could be used in multiple ways. Cheese and bread leftover from grilled cheese sandwiches would be used for eggs and toast in the morning and we would stretch our salad over two days.
With a clear game plan, I volunteered to prepare dinner the first night. I’ve been on spaghetti duty before and wasn’t intimidated by the task at hand. The tricky part would be timing everything to be ready at the same time, so I recruited Paige to help me out in the kitchen. Paige, a self-proclaimed bad cook whose only specialty is a quesadilla, was mostly there for moral support. We had to juggle spaghetti, marinara sauce, meatballs, garlic bread, and a side salad.
I turned on the induction stove to start boiling water for pasta and grabbed the other pots and baking sheets I would need. Although I’m most familiar with gas stoves, it wasn’t too hard to operate this induction stove because I had used them before. However, the oven itself was a big shock because everything was in Celsius! Luckily, the packaging on the meatballs was also in Celsius and told us what temperature to set the oven for. While we waited for the oven to preheat, I poured olive oil onto a baking sheet and placed the meatballs in neat rows. Paige worked on slicing the garlic bread and spreading the pieces on a separate sheet.
At home, I would wait for the timer on my oven to reach zero and listen for it to beep. This oven was not equipped with such features and didn’t have any sort of display to indicate the temperature. After realizing the oven was never going to beep, I opened the door and felt a wave of heat.
“I guess its preheated, might as well put them in,” I said, carefully sliding the tray onto the middle shelf and glancing at my watch to note the time.
“In 10 minutes we’ll switch the trays and turn the sauce on.” I asserted.
My eyes scanned the kitchen as I kept a mental checklist of every component. The water was almost boiling, we would take the meatballs out in 10 minutes and start the garlic bread, the pasta would cook while the bread was in the oven, and we’d turn the sauce on to a low simmer.
“Everything looks good!” I said proudly.
“Not everything, the oven is really smoky!” Paige exclaimed.
As I started to lose my cool, thinking we would set off the apartment’s fire alarm, Paige stepped up and turned on all the fans in the kitchen. We opened the oven and took out the meatballs a few minutes short of our target time. The oven was certainly hot enough, the smoke a result of the fat and oil being too hot. I cut a meatball in half to find that it was cooked perfectly! After we calmed the smoke signals it was fine to continue cooking as planned.
We set up a buffet line so everyone could dish out the right portion for them. Aside from our minor incident, dinner turned out delicious. We were all glad to eat some comfort food after our first two weeks of studying abroad. Although we were on a college student’s budget, we dined like royalty that night.