The end of the semester is fast approaching, and with that comes the completion of this blog. Dorm and Dine started out as a project for my Online Journalism I class, but it grew into a way for me to learn more about what other students are cooking up on campus. I also gained a lot of insight into what I could be doing to improve my own campus culinary technique.
I was able to learn a lot about not only the people I met, but also about the medium I was using to report on what I discovered. I’ll be the first to say it; I’ve never kept a blog in my life. Online media seemed, to me, to be something that was difficult to maintain and edit. Throughout this semester, however, I worked with a wide variety of mediums including video, audio, text, and photos. Learning how to edit was difficult at first, but the quality of the final product was (most of the time) worth the effort.
I’ve loved interviewing students around campus, though I quickly learned that not everyone is willing to stop and chat, and nearly everyone disliked having their picture taken. Overall, what I’ve learned through this blog is that people love food, and sharing recipes and cooking together can make for some new friends and some delicious memories.
I’m excited about a few posts I’ve made this semester. These are some of my favorites:
- Five microwave-only dinner recipes to get you through the week
- Five easy mug and microwave desserts
- What’s cooking in the Rowan University dorms
- Easy recipe for a microwave apple snack
- Rowan students learning outside of the classroom
When talking to college students about their dining habits, it’s common to hear about takeout food, dining hall horror stories, and microwavable soups. With a just a few simple recipes and a little determination, however, college students can cook delicious and healthy meals right in their own dorms.
“Most people probably don’t prepare their own meals because they don’t know how to actually cook full meals,” said Bridget Butler, a 19-year-old Psychology major. “Also, it does take time and requires that dishes have to be done, which most college kids do not seem to want to do”
Unfortunately, not knowing how to cook meals is not the only problem. Some students avoid preparing meals on campus because of a lack of tools. Freshmen dorms, for example, provide microwaves and fridges as a means of cooking – a difficulty, especially for those who want to stay healthy and avoid college “staple foods” such as ramen noodles or frozen pizza.
“I feel like it would be helpful if there were communal kitchens in the dorms,” said Vee Eleanor Naimoli, a 23-year-old English major at Rowan University. “When I first lived in the dorms, I bought cookbooks for dorm cooking and I made a lot of healthy stuff. But it’s not as good as it could have been, especially if I had been allowed to have a hot plate, or if I had access to a communal kitchen”
Bridget Butler, a Resident Advisor at Rowan, agrees with the idea of communal kitchens in dorms that don’t offer residents the tools to cook.
“There should definitely be community kitchens in all of the dorms because most freshman dorms have nothing to cook with besides a microwave,” Butler said. “This limits the residents to only ordering takeout or eating on campus”
According to Naimoli, a lack of tools isn’t the only problem with students that are trying to stay healthy during the school year.
“I found that in the dining hall, they use a lot of oil,” Naimoli said. “If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or if you have any sort of allergy, the food is not always clearly marked. There are too many tempting things, like mac and cheese or pizza. When you’re stressed, you want that sort of thing – especially during finals. I find that it’s better to just go food shopping and find things that are easy to assemble and cook”
Although Rowan University students face many difficulties when it comes to making a meal in their dorms, many still continue to pull together a number of healthy and easy dishes. Students in dorms cook to stay healthy, to eat a good quality home cooked meal, and sometimes, even to save money.
“I think it’s healthier to cook than to eat in the caf[eteria] or on campus a lot, and it’s cheaper than eating out all the time” said Emily Bierman, a 20-year-old Journalism major.
According to Mary Montgomery, a 19-year-old Law and Justice major, the reason behind making meals at home is a simple one.
“I make a lot of chicken, mostly salsa chicken,” Montgomery said. “It’s delicious, and it’s easy to make. If I can make something that I like for less money and still be healthy, it sounds like a good deal to me”
Emily Bierman discusses her delicious chicken and broccoli casserole.
Mary Montgomery, a Sophomore Law and Justice major, talks about making salsa chicken.
Vee Eleanor Naimoli shares a staple of her healthy diet: green smoothies.
I looked around the Glassboro NJ area to see where students at Rowan University could find the cheapest cooking essentials that they need for even the most basic of recipes. I decided on necessities by looking at what tools and ingredients I use in my own dorm kitchen, then narrowing that down based on how often I use specific items. I mapped all of the places that students at Rowan University can purchase the tools and ingredients that will keep them cooking.
The necessary culinary items were…
- groceries (pasta, meats, frozen food) – shown by a grocery basket icon
- bread, milk, eggs – shown by the milk carton and apple icon
- bowls and cookware – shown by the fork and knife icon
- fresh produce (fruits, vegetables, etc.) – shown by the tree icon
When dorms don’t allow a toaster oven, sometimes students get crafty with what they have available.
When cooking in a dorm room, the things you use to make dinner can be just as important as what is being cooked. Before making your next at home meal, be sure to stock up on these kitchen essentials.
- A microwave or micro fridge: Most colleges allow microwaves or rental micro fridges in dorm rooms. Having a microwave is the easiest alternative to the dining hall on campus, and is the safest way to warm up any leftovers.
- A microwave safe bowl: Whether it is being used for mixing, cooking, or just for storage of leftovers, a bowl that can be put in the microwave without melting is very useful. Try and find the largest bowl that will still fit into your microwave – it’s easier to make a small batch in a large container than the other way around.
- A sharpened chefs knife: A medium sized, sharpened knife is helpful for recipes that call for meat. Cutting up anything from beef to poultry becomes much easier with a knife that isn’t meant for the table.
- A small glass pan: If you plan on making any type of casserole or meat, a pan is usually very helpful. Laying meat flat in marinade or water when cooking helps to spread moisture evenly, and casseroles warm better when laid flat and thin. Try to find a moderate sized microwave safe pan with sides. Be sure to check if it will fit in the microwave before buying.
- A can opener: Whether it’s a “real” recipe, or a bowl of spaghettios, many basic recipes call for a can of something – vegetables, sauce, etc – so it’s important to have a method of opening the cans.
- A mug: Hot chocolate on chilly nights or tea in the morning is a staple for many college students. Having a mug to heat up water is helpful for students on the go. With the rise of microwave mug desserts, having a decent sized mug can be the only thing between you and a delicious single-serving brownie.
- A real set of silverware: A metal silverware set is very helpful when eating hot food, or food that has weight to it, like beef or pasta. Not only will metal utensils cut down on melted spoons, but they will save money over the throw away plastic kind.
- Saran Wrap: Cooking in a microwave often leads to splattering and other difficult to clean messes. Having a roll of saran wrap on hand during a dorm dinner can cut down on cleaning time, but can also help food to heat up faster than if it was uncovered.
In the next month or so, I’m going to be adding quite a few new things on the blog.
First, I plan on doing an audio Q and A with Rowan University students, asking them to share their best and worst cooking stories with me.
Variety during mealtimes is important, especially if there are a limited amount of recipes available for aspiring college chefs. Coming up soon, I’m going to be visiting my favorite cooking blogs around the ‘net, looking for microwave friendly recipes, and for meals that can be made dorm room friendly.
As many people know, food isn’t always about what things taste like, but what they look like. So I’ll be whipping up a few of my favorite recipes and showing everyone step by step how to complete a quality recipe right from their microwave.
So make sure to keep your eyes peeled, and your stomachs hungry, because there’s going to be a ton of new posts and recipes coming out soon.
In college, most people might have grown accustomed to the grab and go culinary technique, where meals don’t take more than a few minutes at most. After getting used to eating light, however, going home for a weekend visit can be pretty strange. Suddenly, there’s cabinets of food to replace a sparse breakfast granola bar, and lots of time – and sugar – to kill the extra time that might have otherwise been spent in classes.
For those who are looking to satisfy a sweet tooth while still keeping healthy, I have my very own tried and true recipe for cinnamon apple slices. Not only can they be microwaved, but they are only about 100 calories a serving.
Microwave Cinnamon Sugar Apple Slices:
- 2 Apples – Peeled, and sliced
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
- 1/4 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons Lemon juice, to prevent browning of apples when cooking
- Place apple slices in small bowl
- Sprinkle lemon juice over apple slices, making sure that every slice gets lightly coated
- Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly over moistened apple slices
- Toss apple slices to mix
- Place apple slices evenly on microwave safe plate (it’s okay if they touch)
- Cook apples in microwave for two to three minutes
- Place cooked apples in bowl and serve
It’s the eve of midterm week at Rowan University, and many of the students are cooped up in their dorms studying for a multitude of tests. When it comes to eating during these cram sessions, everyone has a different comfort food. I wandered around the apartments on campus around dinnertime, knocking on doors and seeing what everyone had cooking.
With college midterms coming up in the next few weeks, sugar becomes absolutely necessary for getting through the all night study sessions. But before going to the store for a whole box of brownies, take a peek at some of these single serve microwave dessert recipes. All that’s needed are a few ingredients, a microwave, and the mug of your choice.
- No. 2 Pencil has a quick and easy chocolate chip cookie in a cup that only takes one minute to cook.
- eCurry created a single serve chocolate cupcake that’s great with a side of ice cream.
- The Family Kitchen has a delicious strawberries and cream mug cake that’s the perfect blend of sweet and fruity.
- Kirbie’s Cravings came up with a blueberry mug cake that can be eaten right out of the microwave.
- The nice folks at Food.com shared a microwave chocolate mug brownie recipe that satisfies the sugar and chocolate cravings sure to come from studying.
A watched pot never boils but an unwatched pot boils until there’s no water and your food is burnt and cooking is a fail.