Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beginning as a College Cook: Pantry

Miss Em shares a kitchen space with 3 other people. There's no stove. Almost no storage space. AND she is car-free. The dorm cook has many limitations.

Last year, we hit on the idea of creating a dorm pantry, one that could be kept on a bookshelf or under the bed. Since it is easy for me to pick up various items as I see them, we packed up the car with a bunch of stuff, saving Miss Em many trips to the Publix right off campus.

A lot of food required no refrigeration--and I'm not talking about boxed mac and cheese.

soy milk
canned tomatoes
canned beans

If you've cooked even a little bit, you can see how these items can form the base of many meals, augmented with some fresh stuff.

OOPS! Forgot my fave: peanut butter.

Can you think of anything else?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beginning as a College Dorm Cook: Equipment

The first few days of the semester can be very hectic. Miss Em decided to go without a meal plan this year. She also said No to my offer of lasagne and other homemade items. Ahhhh. It reminds me of when, as a six year old, she announced You know I can really take care of myself.

She did accept 30 or so burritos, which made the journey in a cooler in the back seat. She took a lot of food because she doesn't have a car. She is starting as a college cook with all the difficulties: no car, no stove, no space.

Here is what she took in the equipment department. I know I keep listing the same equipment. That is because this is the good stuff--AND it's not an investment. You can get the All-Clad when you have a more permanent abode.
rice cooker
electric kettle
French press coffee maker
Kuhn-Rikon knife
cutting board ($1 at Dollar Tree)
whisk (mine)
yogurt maker (my old one)

I've seen mention of panini makers and toaster ovens, but I believe these are prohibited (for good reason!) by most colleges.

Any other essential equipment for the College Cook?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

OOPS! People who entered for the ebook, send me your email!

So...totally forgot about the give-away. Therefore, anyone who entered a name, please send me an email with YOUR email, so I can send you the pdf. Everyone wins!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meal Math: 75 Dinners for the Dorm Cook

A semester's worth of dinners sounds daunting, doesn't it? Might as well get 75 boxes of Lean Cuisine, or worse.

But it's all a matter of perspective. Miss Em announced that she wants to try a semester with no meal plan, rather than the 50 meal plan she had last semester. She also wants to try more of the recipes that Frugal Son and I laboriously put together for her last summer.

Still, I want to help out. Anything you bring from home is easier than cooking in that tiny ill-equipped space. I figure a semester is around 15 weeks. Then I figure 5 dinners a week. That's probably high, since college students come upon lots of free food opportunities. Then there are dinners out and dinners with friends at their off-campus abodes.

I was already planning on the 45 bean and cheese burritos, so beloved by our family. That makes around 30 meals.

Then it occurred to me that we could also package the spinach ricotta burritos that I am famous for (at least in my immediate family). These don't even need a rice cooker: just mix defrosted, squeezed frozen spinach with ricotta and roll into burritos. These can be Mexican with jack cheese or Italian with parmesan. Top with salsa or tomato sauce. So: say 30 of these for 20 meals.

Only 25 left! Well, it just so happens that Mr FS and I prepared one of Miss Em's favorite frozen concoctions--ratatouille. Sadly, we had a poor eggplant crop, so she will only get enough for around 10 meals.

Down to 15. I made a chicken/tomato base for Pam Anderson's Chicken Chile. Mixed with canned beans, this should suffice for 5 meals.

5 left! What should I do? Any suggestions?

Note that burritos are very compact. The other items are also compact, frozen in 1 quart ziplock bags. Miss Em won't need more than her 1/4 share of the freezer. Also note how low cost these items are.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Getting Stuff Together for My College Cook: Equipment

Miss Em is in Paris--or is it Barcelona? She will return only a few days before her semester starts. So, Mr FS and I are trying to get things together for her.

We bought most of her College Dorm Cooking equipment last year, and it proved its worth. I've written about these items before, but will do so again to save you a slog through the blog.

These few items will serve you well. The kettle has an automatic shut-off, which is why it is superior to the cheapies. Rice cookers are safe and allowed in most dorms. The colorful knife is cheap and easy to find when you misplace it.

My College Cook requested but one more piece of equipment: a yogurt maker. What do you think of a yogurt maker in a tiny dorm kitchen?

Any other essential equipment?