It’s not like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies – college and cooking just don’t go together well. Many students are clueless in the kitchen (if they have one), and time and facilities are of the essence. Whether your skill level peaks at Ramen noodles or you actually buy produce and cook with it, let The Hatchet give you a hand with cooking in college. You’ll save money, most likely eat healthier – and your mom will be proud.
What not to put in the microwave (and other basics)
1. Your microwave and you
Some consider it common knowledge and some consider it a disaster they never saw coming. A basic knowledge of potential microwave dangers is essential for college students. The most important thing to remember is to never put anything metal, including foil, in the microwave. It will be a flaming disaster. For those stumped on whether other containers (that don’t have labels) are microwave-safe, “Cooking Basics for Dummies” offers a rule of thumb: only food should get hot in the microwave. If the container heats up a lot, it’s probably not microwave-safe.
Another rule of thumb comes courtesy of local chef Phyllis Frucht, whose company “What’s Cooking?” offers cooking classes. She warns inexperienced cooks to be wary of instructed cooking times because microwaves vary. “If you think something is going to take five minutes, check it every minute and stir,” she said.
2. Should I eat it?
In its “Food Safety Tips for College Students,” the Food and Drug Administration warns students that even pizza left out on the counter for only two hours can have food-borne bacteria.
If you’ve been hanging on to the flour and sugar you got freshman year because you were convinced you’d bake something from scratch someday, it might be time to scrap it. “The Everything College Cookbook” tells students that even these items go bad. Flour should only be kept for a year and sugar for 18 months.
3. Information that has changed since high school health class
Remember the food pyramid you learned in school? It looks nothing like that now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture officially changed the food pyramid from the standard diagram to 12 different ones based on age, gender and physical activity. You can go to www.mypyramid.gov to calculate what your daily servings should be.
When you are going to be studying all night.
Sometimes, coffee just won’t cut it. “The College Cookbook: An Alternative to the Meal Plan” has a chapter devoted to good study foods recommended by students. Here’s one to try.
Spread tomato sauce on English muffin halves. Add pepperoni, onions, green peppers or whatever toppings you have. Top with cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, either in the microwave or in the oven at about 350
When you are going to be partying all night…
If you are about to embark on a night of drinking till dawn (and you are 21, of course), do yourself a favor and eat something for dinner that will help combat your next-day hangover. Bread products and foods high in protein help coat your stomach and ease nausea in the morning.
Pasta with Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup cream
Mix together butter and cheese until it looks fluffy. Put the cream in the mixture slowly while stirring. Pour sauce over pasta.
When you are having friends over.
8 quarts popped popcorn
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 pound butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spread the popcorn over a cookie sheet. (You might want to line the pan with foil, since this is going to become a sticky situation.) Boil sugar, syrup and butter together for about five minutes. Add the baking soda and vanilla to the mixture. Pour the mixture over all of the popcorn and bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, or until the popcorn feels dry. Every 15 minutes, move the popcorn around on the pan so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
When you are trying to impress someone.
If you don’t think it’s cute when a guy/girl can cook, you’re lying. Say this dessert is your grandmother’s recipe – that’ll be even better.
Peanut butter squares
3 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons honey
Just mix the ingredients together, spread in a pan and freeze. You can top with coconut or nuts if you’d like.
All recipes are based on recipes in “The College Cookbook: Alternatives to the Meal Plan.” For more recipes catered to the college student, check out these cook books – if not for the recipes, at least for the titles.
“The (Reluctant, Nervous, Lazy, Broke, Busy, Confused) College Student’s Cookbook,” “Cooking Outside the Pizza Box : Easy Recipes for Today’s College Student,” “Where’s Mom Now That I Need Her: Surviving Away from Home,” “The Starving Students’ Cookbook”