Rowan students learning outside of the classroom
When I started walking around the dorm hallways this afternoon, I was keeping my eyes (and nose) open for evidence of someone who was cooking something delicious. While the first few rooms I stopped by were more of the Ramen noodle variety of college culinary, I hit the jackpot on my fourth stop of the day.
Nicole Podraza is an 18 year old Math and Science major at Rowan University. She’s also a wizard when it comes to whipping up something delicious for dinner on a busy schedule. When I stopped by her room, it was because I caught the overwhelming scent of hot sauce wafting down the halls. Nicole, who was busy making herself a homemade dinner of microwavable hot wings, had no problem with telling me all about her cooking habits here on campus.
“First of all, I use hot sauce on everything that I can. I got that habit from home,” said Podraza, whose mom gave her a crash course on cooking before she left for college, “I also tend to go for quick meals, since I’m always super busy.”
Nicole’s roommate, Jen Racine, is also a busy bee on campus, participating actively in both her studies and as a pledge of Alpha Sigma Alpha.
“I’ve learned a ton of stuff about cooking from Nicole. She always makes so much food, so we have tons of leftovers,” said Racine.
While Podraza and Racine might seem like accomplished dorm chefs, however, things weren’t always so great.
“When we first moved in, we set off the fire alarms. A lot of fire alarms,” said Jen, recalling the somewhat smoky concoctions that Nicole sometimes pulled from the depths of the microwave.
“I was sort of embarrassed,” said Podraza, recalling the cooking mishaps at the beginning of the fall semester. “My mom showed me some stuff I could make, but I didn’t expect a little bit of smoke to set off alarms and evacuate the whole building. That made me learn quicker though, especially when it started to get cold outside, and we had to stand out in the cold during alarms.”
Nicole, who lives in a dorm with a ban on appliances and only a micro fridge for cooking, often gets creative when it comes to what she’s craving for dinner.
“Sometimes, when I don’t have money for takeout and I don’t feel like walking to the caf[eteria], I’ve ironed sandwiches,” Podraza said, “It sounds weird, but I can make a mean grilled cheese with an iron.”
“I never realized how easy it was to avoid the caf food,” said Jen Racine, who has been trying out Nicole’s cooking tips on her own, “I didn’t think that you could cook meals with just a microwave. I mean, besides Ramen or frozen dinners. It’s nice to be able to eat whatever you feel like eating.”