It was a hunger filled fall evening here in Kutztown. There seemed to be quite a few of those in the beginning of the semester since we hadn’t signed up for meal plans, to save money of course because that is what college students do; only problem was none of us knew how to cook. My housemates and I had all lived such sheltered lives with our families always cooking for us we never thought it would be such a task. .My housemates and I had just moved into our place a few days prior. It was a new interesting thing living on our own with each other for the first time. We had been talking about doing this for over a year now and finally plans came into fruition. Ramen became the regular meal sometimes we would desire meat and eat hot dogs. Yup it was the life, or at least we thought it was. One particularly hungry evening my friends and I decided we needed a real meal, but how does someone go about acquiring a real meal when they don’t have their parents to fend for them? We began to rummage and search around the pantry and the fridge. One thing was for certain, we didn’t want ramen and we were all out of hot dogs. Something had to be done and my house looked to me to save them from their hunger. This evening was a particularly tense evening because Shaggy was late on paying the cable bill. This meant we were without WI-Fi and TV added that on to our extreme hunger made for a disastrous equation. Something had to be done so we all were trying to scavenge for ideas.
Eventually Vaughn came to me with what looked to be a cauldron. The obscure object ceramic it was armed with a cord and a dial. I had never seen anything like it so I assumed the worst; the hunger got the best of Vaughn and he went off the deep end. I asked him as politely as I could “What the heck are we to do with a cauldron!” shaggy intruded saying, “Mark that’s a pot don’t be dumb.” I figured cool a pot, but we don’t even have hotdogs to boil. Vaughn answered, “It’s a crock pot I saw my mom cook with this once and she gave it to us to use” I had never heard of a crock pot before, but maybe it would be our ticket to dinner tonight. Vaughn then excitedly whipped out a whole cook book full of recipes you can make in a crock pot. It was amazing the plethora of ideas this little book had for us. I’ve heard of cook books in the past, but never have I thought that I would need one nor would I ever think I would be using one. We perused the cook book for a while looking for things we could make. There were brownies, soups, roasts, ribs, pizza recipes, anything you could think of; there was a cauldron recipe for it. We stumbled upon cauldron lasagna and we unanimously knew this was what we craved.
I always enjoyed going to the grocery store with my family, but going to the grocery store with your two friends while you’re all hungry is a sight to see. There is virtually no voice of reason if we saw something that looked good, we bought it. It is a terrible idea to go to the grocery store in that state of mind, but if we didn’t we might have starved. After much distraction we walked out with what the spell book had called for: Ricotta, mozzarella, Tomatoes sauce, lasagna noodles, ground beef, writing I’m practically drooling recalling the night we finally learned to cook for ourselves. Getting through the grocery store was a challenge, but we made it. After buying cookies, chips, fruit snacks, and other things we didn’t need we finally got what we came there for. This was the beginning of a new age in my house, an age where we quit depriving our stomachs from what we really wanted. Real homemade dinners all thanks to a spell book and a cauldron. We were the witches of the kitchen, or warlocks I guess would be the masculine equivalent, but witches rhymed so we stuck with it.
Back to the story, we finally arrived at our house to conjure up some dinner. But again we never cooked before in our lives. How can we finish such a task? I knew how to boil water for the pasta thanks to hotdogs, but that was just the beginning. I never cooked meat before and the thought of doing it wrong terrified us. I had to phone a friend and I knew just who to call; my Aunt Jane! My aunt was a wonderful woman with many skills in the kitchen. She was just the edge my household needed to save ourselves from hunger. I cooked the pasta noodles while Shaggy and Vaughn waited eagerly. My aunt walked us through the ground beef cooking process. Once the ingredients were cooked she told us it was time to start layering. A layer of pasta, a layer of sauce, a layer of ricotta, a layer of beef, a layer of mozzarella, another layer of pasta. We repeated this process as much as we had ingredients to do so. It wasn’t the prettiest lasagna but for our first time I think it looked fine. Though that could have been the hunger speaking. After it was all done we fired up the cauldron and began to wait.
Funny thing about cauldron food is it isn’t meant to be made on the spot. The cauldron takes time, hours of time. Yup I remember those agonizing hair pulling hours, things were said, and things we aren’t exactly proud of. The kind of things that if our family knew how terrible we were being to each other they would be ashamed, but we got through it. Some feelings were hurt and some pride had been crushed, but finally the cauldron was done working its magic. That night we ate like kings, and no one could stop us. I sometimes think about the dark ages of Ramen and hot dogs, and every once in a while I’ll humor myself and try eating it again, but for the most part those days are long gone. Good riddance too! My housemates and I are much happier and much more satisfied with the cauldron food we have all grown to love. We even learned to beat the time disadvantage; thanks to my good old Aunt Jane. Every night after dinner we put any leftovers in containers, clean the cauldron, and pre-make our meal for the next night. Every morning I start dinner with the simple twist of a knob and magically when we all congregate each evening for dinner the cauldron is ready. Cauldron food is indeed my favorite method of cooking and I think it has bonded my friends and I like I never thought food could.