Give Dorm Dining A Creative Boost

by Alex Cheser
Columnist

Dorm food. Stereotype dictates that food in residence halls should be limited to Pop-Tarts, Doritos, soda, Easy Mac and, if you’re getting fancy, ramen noodles. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with those foods sometimes, but why should you limit yourself when you can get so creative with just a few kitchen supplies and ingredients? We can’t eat in the caf all the time and there are plenty of people on campus without a meal plan.

To start, some of the simplest dishes to make are those from our neighbors to the south. If you have a microwave and a knife, putting together a quesadilla or burrito is super simple. Using a damp paper towel will prevent the tortilla from drying out. Nachos also provide a quick and easy finger food. You can customize them however you like with any veggies, cheeses or precooked meats you have on hand, even bacon! These won’t be the authentic noms you’ll find at a taquería in Coyoacán in Mexico City, but they’ll still be muy delicioso.

Another college food that provides plenty of opportunities for personalization is pizza. You can buy prebaked pizza dough, pita bread or even French bread. I’ve even heard of English muffin pizzas. From there, you can use any type of cheese, sauce or toppings you fancy. The fresher the ingredients the better the flavor will be. Farmers market tomatoes would be excellent right now. Plus, I guarantee you that you won’t have to wipe off the grease with a napkin.

You can also get very creative with various fruits and vegetables. Mixing fresh fruits with yogurt and granola for a parfait is a much healthier breakfast than Pop-Tarts. If you’re one of those lucky people with a blender, fresh or frozen fruit with some yogurt and milk will make a great smoothie, too. Fresh vegetables are always a great snack, but you can also extend them to make your own salad. I actually called my Grandmommy for her broccoli slaw recipe (see cut-out) that uses ramen noodles, a few veggies and nuts to make a tasty side dish or snack.

Some people get super creative with their microwave. I’ve seen fudge, pasta and even eggs made in a microwave. A quick Internet search brought me to http://microwaverecipe.net, a site that showcases microwave recipes from cheese dips to crab enchiladas. I haven’t had as much experience with heavy-duty microwave cooking, but I do know that you must be extremely cautious. Cooking by radiation is much different than conduction or convection. Dishes are much more prone to burn, dry out, hyperboil or even explode. Just watch an episode of “Is It a Good Idea to Microwave This?” on YouTube.

We have plenty of eateries on and off-campus to keep us satisfied most of the time. Plus, we’re usually busy doing 20 other more important things like reading for psychology or watching Glee to have time to focus on food preparation. People without a meal plan, though, will tell you that fixing your own food is not only healthier but also a lot cheaper. I can’t say that I support having cooking implements against residence life regulations, but I know that several people do and their food options are only further opened. Again, just be careful. Besides, most of college occurs during cold weather, and I’m not putting on snow boots and slushing across campus for something I can make myself.

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