Among many other frustrations that come with a lack of access to off-campus housing is the increased difficulty to cook for yourself. For many people, cooking and baking can be a way to remember home or express your creativity. I compiled some tips to get you cooking in residence halls.
The pots, pans and other cooking supplies are regularly unavailable and often in poor condition, (at least in Mohn) so it may be helpful to acquire some on your own or with friends. I recommend checking thrift stores, garage sales or asking parents or family for any extra supplies you may need to cook or bake. If all else fails, you can get some good deals at Target and convince a couple of friends to share the supplies with you and split the price.
“Cooking and baking for many people can be a way to remember home or express your creativity.” – Anna Leikvold ’21
When shopping for ingredients, buy the nonperishable or long lasting things you will need more than once in bulk. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, oil, salt and pepper are a few examples. Don’t store your food or supplies in the residence hall kitchens, everyone steals food so just keep it in your room.
Cooking and baking can be long processes, so plan out a dinner or baking party and bring some friends. Making food is always better when you have people you love to share it with. This will also keep you more accountable to continue cooking.
If you are new to baking, don’t be disheartened by a few failed attempts. Baking is a very precise art and cooking with different ovens, stovetops or supplies can impact the way something turns out.
Some helpful hints I’ve learned throughout my time baking are never estimate with baking— always use measuring cups; spoon the flour into the measuring cup instead of scooping it directly from the bag of flour, start with room temperature ingredients, always butter and flour your pans generously, rotate pans in the oven halfway through the cooking process and always chill your cookie dough.
For cooking, be sure to always salt your cooking water (more than you expect), heat up the oil well before throwing food in a pan, sharpen knives, and don’t be afraid to add some spices and change up recipes once you get to know them.
I hope this helps you feel motivated to start cooking and/ or baking. Along with expressing some creativity, food is a great way to bring all the people you love together.