Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is College Cooking Anyway?

College Cooking seems to be a somewhat amorphous term. So let me explain what OTHER PEOPLE mean by College Cooking and then what I mean by it.

If you search the term on Amazon, some cookbooks come up. Here are the first 3:

I randomly selected this recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini, which you can find via the Search Inside feature. This calls for poaching some chicken breasts--in a pot, on a stove. Cooking a pound of spaghetti, in another pot on the stove. Draining both. Cutting up the chicken. Adding some canned soup and mushrooms and other stuff. Then baking in a casserole.

Verdict: several pots, colander, draining, chopping, baking. Big mess.

Here's another:

Another random stroll yields Spinach Quiche-adilla. This involves chopping and sauteeing an onion, adding spinach, adding tomatoes, removing much of the concoction and saving for another use and then scrambling eggs in the remainder. And so on.

Verdict: 1 pot, messy chopping, leftovers, etc.

Our last sample is

This book has similar recipes, but also includes a glossary of college slang, including the "15 minute rule," which means that if your teacher doesn't show up, you can leave after 15 minutes. NOTE: This is apocryphal. There are variations, for instance: you only wait 10 minutes for an Instructor, but 20 minutes for a PhD. Anyway, I'll skip the recipe analysis because you get the idea.

The college-themed cookbooks on the market generally are BEGINNER cookbooks. In that, they are no different from other beginner cookbooks: they provide lengthy pantry and equipment lists, definitions of cooking terms, and other tips. What makes them COLLEGE, besides the title, is the tone.

Still, most of these books assume you have a KITCHEN. WITH A STOVE. Hence the title of a cookbook recommended in a comment:

This is a cute book, by a mother-son duo. It has some helpful "Mom Tips." The recipe for Onion Soup, predictably, calls for chopping and sauteeing onions, adding canned broth and other stuff, and topping with toasted bread and grated cheese.

Verdict again: chop, at least one pot, toaster, etc.

The operative word in all these is STOVE. And KITCHEN. Not all college students have stoves. My daughter, for instance, will be living in a suite with a kitchen area, which has NO STOVE. If she wants a stove, she has to venture down the hall or to another floor, where there is a communal stove. I asked if she would leave to get to the stove: she said "Not unless I have to."

So our ebook will take seriously the situation of the dorm-dweller, for whom a stove is a distant or a non-existent dream.

Why not buy a stove-substitute? Because such appliances are dangerous and often prohibited. Here is the blurb from one college:

No open flame instruments are permitted; this includes charcoal or gas grills, George Foreman-type grilling appliances, candles, toaster ovens and hotplates.

Also, it's hard enough for a so-called adult (like me) to get dinner on the table: shopping, prep, and clean-up are all a major pain. The recipes above are not hard, but they will leave you with multiple things to wash and hands that smell like onions. Oh, and your little kitchen area will smell like onions. And no, you can't use a candle (see above) as an air-freshener.

SO, our ebook will be a no-stove book, with little shopping, little prep, clean-up, or onion-chopping. NO KIDDING.

No comments:

Post a Comment