Inspired by the cooking of a graduate student !

Last updated Jan 27, 2021 at 10:56AM | Published on Jun 22, 2019

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The fromcooktochef interview

pumpkin 999

What a lovely interview to do – short , sweet and very informative. Student food isn’t what it used to be ! I imagine we’d get all sorts of useful information from the younger ones starting out in their own independent world these days. We were impressed too  – but biased – surely not ( it’s our daughter we interviewed ).

date of interview: 26 June 2019

The set up…

A university student – just graduated and about to embark on her career / job journey. Not every student will have cooked or even liked to cook. So where is she on her cook to chef journey ?

Do you like to cook : Yes      |      Why : always did      |    Interview done : chilling in a hammock after finals !

10 quick questions 

1. What inspired you to cook ?

My main inspiration to cook was just to be able to feed myself healthily… and also stay on a budget !

Restaurant food is really nice but not always healthy, and it’s costly. 

I always loved cooking growing up, (well baking was more my thing), but I took a break from that when I realised eating it all too wasn’t too healthy !


2. What gave you the most satisfaction ?

Learning how to use herbs and spices. Making sauces, and knowing what combinations to use, without having to look it up every time.

3. What’s your favourite piece of equipment ?

I don’t really use much equipment, except for the basics – pots, pans, chopping boards, and knives. Oh ( says she smiling) AND the Le Creuset oven dish you lent me 🙂 It’s the biggest thing I have.


4. What’s the best tip you can give other students starting out ?

Know that you can cook more than a curry, a spag bol. ( spagetti bolognese), or chicken & rice.  If you can do that,  you can definitely branch out and cook more exciting things.

For instance, turn spag. bol. into shepherds pie by changing to potatoes instead of pasta. Add spices and beans, and make it a chilli. 

Burritos – try that one – you can do it, and you’ll love it.

Learn to swap out ingredients & branch out bit by bit. Change chicken to fish, or change your curry by making or buying or different curry paste.

( so don’t be lazy students, you can live better than on a 1-type-of-meal-per-week plan. )


5. What has your cooking journey taught you about food?

Food markets in the U.K. are the best pace to buy fruit & vegetables. You can get so much more for your money there. Also, the reduced items section in a supermarket can give you ideas – once I saw haddock and was inspired to bake it in the oven.

I think all the use by dates are a nonsense – learn to know if something is off, or know yourself, by looking and sniffing it.


6. …and what has it taught you about life?

That’s a Big question for young years !!! ( yes she really said that !)
I suppose the biggest revelation was that, doing something yourself doesn’t mean it will be worse.

I used to think if someone did it for me it would be better – but you can learn and do things better yourself – in cooking, sewing , home DIY etc.  So, always have a go.  If it’s rubbish – then look elsewhere – nothing wasted except your ego ! (wise girl !)


7. What’s your favourite ingredient ?

kidney beans !

I love them, and also they are so cheap and bulk everything out. Throw them in and it makes everything from a salad to stew to vegetarian dish go further. Also, they’re good for you aren’t they ? ( but they’re beans remember ! )


8. What could you not do without ?

A frying pan.

Anything and everything can be done in a frying pan ! I use it every time I cook.


9. What’s the best thank-you you’ve had ?

A bottle of nice champagne  – better still they brought it for dinner… before they tasted the food !

10. What favourite recipe would you share ?

I make a mean dhal – I think I make it up as I go. I use a ton of lentils (any colour – but I use orange),  no need to soak in advance.

Garlic, white onion, and whatever vegetables I have – it works nicely with courgette. Coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, chilli, salt & pepper to taste.

Pop the onion & garlic in the frying pan. I would cook it all in frying pan if it was just for one person now, but I usually did this in bulk cooking, so used a pan.

Then add the liquids and lentils to boil.  ( First time I made it and forgot to add lentils and wondered why it was so liquidy dooooohl – I got distracted when someone came to the door. )

Then add the vegetables – with courgette be sure not to add it too early.

That’s it.


So what did we learn… apart from Lentils !

I love that she loves these too ! They’re so easy and cheap, and good to add to thicken things up, including yourself ahahaha

First of all I’m amazed at all the off the cuff answers !  We didn’t know all this before.

So, for favourite equipment, it seems that the essentials are taken for granted. We just bought basics from IKEA – the same place all the first year student parents used to go to.  But they didn’t last long, and by the time she got to 3rd year she opted for good quality gear. Now Amazon is more popular. You can choose what you want without ending up with the same gear as every other student… so they don’t get mixed up in the communal kitchen.

With hindsight we now know what was useful (or not), and what or when it was worth buying at a decent quality. We’ll put together a list of the essentials for you incase you are sending a student off soon.


And who knew !

Le Creuset dish – here´s the one she loved ( and so do we… now it´sbeen passed on to the next studentg in the family, our Godson, since it´s too heavy for any of us to take on our travels) .  It has been one of our longest lasting wedding presents ( and we’ve been married 30 years ! ) . It’s in the same state at the end of the yeas as it was at the beginning – that’s a quality item for you. Thanks to cousin John & Judith for the gift 31 years ago. These dishes last for ever and can be passed down the generations – but maybe not yet !  We used it mostly for roast dinner, lasagne, moussaka etc. and missed it. Here’s hoping that it will make it’s way back out to us in a suitcase soon.

The frying pan – who knew ! Well it seems Paul does – so she takes after him on that. Paul even makes hot chocolate in a frying pan, he says it’s better because it’s shallow and so it cooks faster ! Which frying pan is best though, always used to be a debate in our house, so we had a selection. The brand we used for years, and passed on to her, have so many great choices so it’s difficult to pick just one. Here’s my favourite as an all-rounder frying pan / sauce pan.  

Herbs and spices… Well, her mama is so pleased that this one rubbed off. This year, in her final year at University,  she got what remained of our big herb and spice collection back in the UK when we sold up and left our old Surrey home. And it seems she’s been using them all ! I’m so pleased.

Chopping…something she didn’t say, but I have noticed here how she likes to chop. Like me, she seems to love chopping and slicing. It’s so therapeutic don’t you think?  I guess when she starts work ( i.e. a full-time job),  time could get shorter and she’ll have to follow our footsteps toward a processor or mandoline slicer.

Circulon or Analon pans !

We used Anolon or Circlon pans for many years at home, as well as solid cast iron and heavy based stainless steel pans.  The Circulon / Anolon ranges were our everyday staples… Anolon more cheffy, and Circulon more for the cook.

Circulon comes in a lovely soft matt grey, and you can also get them  in stainless steel.

Our daughter was more than happy to have the frying pan, the wee milk pan ( my favourite !) , and a few more for her last year at university.

They have so many choices so click through to find the one that appeals to you most. Here’s one of our favourite all rounder cooking / casserole / frying pan.

Circulon CHEF´s pan

Want more for your money?

we’ve sourced some bargain saucepan sets for you.

The picture below shows our UK choice. Click the button below to see the best Circulon sets we’ve found for you in your region. Sure you can pick and choose what you give the student, and keep the rest at home, or give to other students as gifts !

Le Creuset for students !

Look what we found for you. If we didn’t have a pass-me-down, this would have been perfect to give as a gift. In fact I think its better ! I just wanted to show you all because not everyone wants to give that one off iron le creuset dish away to a student – even if it comes back looking the same.

I’m so happy that I found these for you – a set of two iron dishes. I still can’t believe the great value here for Le Creuset – I’d be very happy to have these myself now.

So I hope you like them, click through and get the details. Enjoy !

Degree results are in … off to celebrate !

( #proudparents )


Bonus question.


Q: What would you love most, to help you cook better, on the next part of your journey ?

A: A slow cooker !


But then I told her what an instant pot was… and she instantly changed her answer to – an INSTANT POT. Thing is we are still a bit torn between these two pots. There’s only one thing for it – lots of research and reviewing.

We’ll let you know when the results are in.



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As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I may earn a commission.

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