Dorm Cooking 101

By Alexandra Ley
So, if you’re like me, the extent of your “cooking” before coming to college was mixing cereal and milk without burning the kitchen down.  If you’re like me, Samantha Plotner’s wonderful cooking articles do nothing for your meals because you simply don’t know what she’s talking about, and you end up microwaving Easy Mac three times a week.
Seriously, anything over five steps is just too much for me to handle. I am aware that I am a pathetic human being. But hey, we can’t all live on a meal plan forever. So if you’re thinking of starting to use that pan and spatula gathering dust in your room, here is what you should pick up on your next trip to the grocery store.

1. Eggs. Eggs are just wonderful. You can make them any way you want for breakfast. You can mix them with veggies from the Farmer’s Market or throw them on toast. They are the most versatile breakfast food- and as you know, in college, breakfast-time is all the time.
2. Bread. Bread can also be combined with many other food items to make something tasty- mostly sandwiches, but French Toast comes to mind too! It’s also a great snack with tea or soup. There are also so many types of bread- whole-wheat, rye, white, naan; don’t let yourself get stuck without any variety!
3. Pasta. It is probably the easiest dish to make in the world, but it tastes OH so good. There’s also a large variety of pasta to choose from- angel hair or linguini? Shells or rigatoni? Ravioli or tortellini? Always keep some pasta around for when Hewitt dining hall is closed and you need to pull an all-nighter.
4. Butter. I mean, all of the above tastes pretty great with butter. So why not? Plus it can substitute for Pam. Although the reverse is not true. Just gross.
5. Milk. This is important to have if you like to bake. I have also heard a rumor it mixes well with cereal.
6. Cheese. There are so many different kinds- I dare you to not have ANY cheese in your fridge. Cheddar goes well on everything, brie is excellent with crackers, Parmesan goes on the pasta that you’ve already made and American is perfect for grilled cheese. Seriously, just throw some cheese on anything and it gets magically better.
7. Salt and pepper. Understandably placed together, you need some flavoring once in awhile. Also, putting salt in the pot while you boil pasta will prevent stickiness.
8. Betty Crocker box mixes. These are pure genius and sell like mad at bake sales. They’re absolutely foolproof- if you follow the directions there is no way to screw them up.
9. Olive oil. This is great for adding to pasta, vegetables, salads and bread…pretty much everything.
10. Canned vegetables. Just because we’re college students doesn’t mean we can skimp on the veggies! Canned food will last forever, so no worries about it going bad over breaks. Preparing it just takes a saucepan and a little heat- nothing could be easier.
A few more tips if you’re planning a foray into the land of Julia Child: always make sure the top is on the blender, sauce splatters when you leave it for too long, your first batch of brownies will probably burn a little bit, and spatulas like to melt and/or snap.
Alexandra is a sophomore at Barnard and contributing editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing. She once destroyed two spatulas in a 48-hour period.

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