Sunday, February 12, 2012

College Kitchen: Senior Year

Now that I’ve committed myself to this blog with newfound dedication and vigor, I have spent time reflecting on my 2010 posts.

In February of 2010, I was beginning the spring of my sophomore year at Boston University, and lived in the Myles Standish residence hall. Living in a residence hall had its benefits: I was close to friends, I lived with three of mine, I was closer to campus, and I had a dining hall in the building. Besides the lack of personal coffee maker and repetitive menu options, dorm life was nice. But the transition from underclassman to upperclassman comes with a shot of independence and desire to take charge of one’s menu.

I moved into my first apartment (read: first kitchen) at the beginning of senior year, after weeks of summer trips to pick out dishes, and cookware. I was anticipating absolute bliss—now that I’d severed the umbilical cord of a dining hall – I could make myself whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Imagine my surprise when I realized that food no longer appeared 5 minutes after I decided I was famished.

This got me thinking that perhaps college students needed a better warning of what to expect when they make the dorm to apartment leap of faith. I’ve come up with the following list of tips, aka things I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Dishes will not do themselves.
  2. Forgetting that you have food in the oven/on the stove will cause the fire alarm to go off.
  3. Spills on the stove do not go away on their own.
  4. Unless you’re opening up a can of soup, making PB&J, or microwaving a frozen meal, you cannot decide to have lunch at 12:20 if you have a class at 12:30.
  5. Allow half an hour of cooking for every hot meal you’re going to prepare for yourself in your apartment kitchen. If you find yourself getting hungry at 6, start prepping dinner at 5:30. There is a cooking learning curve for many, so at first you may need more time.
  6. You don’t need to make a roasted leg of lamb every night. As a college student, even one who doubles as an aspiring chef, being a student is your primary and full time job. Keep a few simple dishes in your arsenal, and go back to them when you’re strapped for time.
  7. Include shopping trips into your budget and schedule – the time factor is especially important when exams roll around.
  8. Write down food items that need to be replenished, and take this list with you to the grocery store. It’ll keep you within budget, and ensure that nothing is forgotten. And NEVER go food shopping when you’re hungry.
  9. If you have roommates, have a talk BEFORE moving in about sharing cooking duty/clean-up/shopping expenses, and kitchen space. You may have different opinions of what to cook and how to cook it, so communication is key for a healthy living and cooking environment.
  10. Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. I got into the habit of planning my meals a day ahead, so that I could ensure that my chicken was thawed safely when I wanted to use it.

That's my tips for now! Happy cooking, fellow foodies!

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