Spaghetti with meatballs for
"Ordinarily, I would view using pre-rolled meatballs as pretty lazy, but because this is a student recipe (and sometimes we like to be lazy) I would recommend getting your hands on some pre-rolled meatballs. You can usually buy these quite easily from most supermarkets. Spaghetti is a nice variation from having a lot of that student classic, penne pasta.
With this recipe I’ll try to advise a method that caters for one person - if you have some pasta sauce around, use half a jar, if not there is always the option of using some home made pasta sauce with a can of tomatoes, a bit of olive oil and some garlic. But we are feeling lazy, remember?
If you can only buy a bigger pack of meatballs from the supermarket than you need you can always keep them frozen and take a few out of the pack and defrost as needed.
Enough spaghetti for one person (to measure this, hold the pasta between your thumb and index finger, it should be about the size of a 10p piece – if it looks a bit small, remember that it’ll get bigger when you cook it but if you’re feeling hungry just ignore me and bung in a bit more. If your eyes were bigger than your stomach you can always keep it in the fridge.)
Pinch of salt
5 or 6 meatballs
A small white onion
Half a jar of pasta sauce/batch of home made sauce
Garlic bread to serve
1. Grab enough meatballs for your meal from the freezer and make sure they are defrosted.
2. Chop up your onion into small pieces.
3. Fill and boil the kettle. Pour the water into a pan and get it onto the hob on a medium heat. Get the water boiling and put in a little salt. Turn down the heat a little and lower in the spaghetti, and still holding the top gently push it into the water until it starts to bend. Using a wooden spoon or spatula (not your hands dear, nobody wants burnt fingers) try and push the rest of the spaghetti down into the water so that it’s all covered. Turn the water down to a simmer.
3. Put a frying pan or wok on the hob on a fairly high heat. Pop the meatballs in and get them frying. Once the meatballs are nearly nice and brown, drain off most of the excess fat and then put the onions into the pan with the meatballs to finish frying.
4. Remember that spaghetti you put in earlier? Check on its progress – you can test this by taking a piece of spaghetti and biting through it – if there’s still a white dot in the middle of the strand it needs a bit more time. Have a little rant to yourself about how annoying it is to pick up a single strand of spaghetti without it slipping off the spoon.
5. When the onions are a little bit brown, take the frying pan/wok off the heat. By now your spaghetti ought to be done too.
6. Drain the spaghetti and put it back in the pan. Mix in your choice of sauce and put it back on the heat to warm it through. Keep it moving, remember – burnt on spaghetti is hard to wash off a pan especially when you don’t have a dishwasher!
7. Stir in the meatballs and onions, and take off the heat. Serve it with a bit of garlic bread if you're feeling fancy."
Keeping tidy (or how to stay calm when the kitchen is filthy)
"Oh, kitchens. In student houses they tend to be a haven of joy and filth in equal measure.
Our second year house was particularly notorious for its messy kitchen, it's never easy when flatmates enjoy adventurous meals and do not enjoy cleaning. Oh fun. Here are a few tips to help you keep your head and your friends whilst not being infected by your own house:
• Before you start cooking a meal, make sure you have a clean kitchen. If you can’t be bothered to do this (or you have too much work to do, of course) at least make sure you have a big enough clean bit of work surface to put all your stuff on in amongst the monumental piles of other people’s dishes.
• People will eventually do things in their own time, even my flatmates did their dishes eventually. If the same mess is in the kitchen for an excessive amount of time, it’s better to talk to your flatmates about it than to let your annoyance fester – trust me! If you have anger bubbling away it will tend to come out in a more destructive way. It’s not worth falling out over.
• This might sound a little patronising and not very fun, but if someone spills a really sticky drink whilst playing whatever drinking game is en vogue in student world it’s best to give it a quick wipe before you go out and get hammered as it will be pretty nasty to tackle the next day with your surface spray, a sponge and a stinking hangover. (not that I am condoning this behaviour in any way, naturally).
• Don’t let stuff rot in your fridge. If you have made things with half a jar of sauce or half a tin of tomatoes make sure you use them! Not only is it annoying and wasteful to have to throw lots of stuff out because you forgot about it, it’s not nice to have things festering especially if you are sharing a fridge. If you are sharing a fridge and something is rotting away that isn't yours - i.e. if it’s green and it’s not meant to be green - then throw it away! I'm sure they wouldn’t mind (unless they’re doing some kind of strange mould science degree in which case you might want to ask them not to keep their assignments in your communal fridge!).
• Before you make a meal make sure you have a clean pan to cook in and a clean plate to eat from. Also, make sure you have a clean knife and fork. Sounds silly, right? Not necessarily - I couldn’t tell you how many times my lovely meal had to sit going cold for ten minutes while I played the 'search the abyss for a fork' game, and sometimes I had to wander into the living room to find one to wash from three days ago! (It wasn’t that filthy, promise).
• If you are cooking with mince or something that has a lot of fat in it, don’t be tempted to pour hot fat down the sink! Pour it into an empty jar or tin can (not something made of plastic as that will melt) and throw it in the bin when it has cooled down instead, as if the fat solidifies in the u-bend you’ve got yourself a blocked sink, and you don’t want to give yourself another reason not to do the washing up now do you?
• If using a grill pan line the bottom of it with foil – trust me, it’s much easier to scrunch that up and throw it away than it is to spend hours scrubbing a year’s worth of collective fat out of it the day before you move out. (I know this personally, sigh.)
• Every few months or so, if you have your own personal cupboard with food in have a quick check in there that nothing is going off. I didn’t think to do this for quite some time, and I had accumulated a few half full boxes of cereal that I had decided I didn’t like any more (I know, reckless right...).
• The most important thing is, if the kitchen is filthy and you just can’t bear to look at the dishes anymore, don’t go storming in there like a crazy person and doing it all on your own - it's not fair on you. If nobody is around and you really can’t face it, then do it, but it shouldn’t be left to one person to do. It’s a hard situation to deal with - living with so many people, you must respect the way that they choose to live. If they are messy they won’t be easily changed – but equally, they must respect that you want to live cleanly. Compromise is the key to not falling out with each other. (I am assuming here that you want to live cleanly - if you feel like being a little bit of a pig then by all means do it, but prepare to eat out of some unusual receptacles on the way.).