Cooking in College: 5 Recipes My Housemates and I Have Attempted This Semester

1. Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from the Frog Commissary Cookbook):

  • The Story: I had almost finished making the batter when I realized there was smoke billowing from the pre-heated oven. When I opened it to figure out why, I also noticed that the oven had no racks in it. So, I decided to try making cookies in a frying pan.
  • The outcome: Pan-fried cookies! I don't know why no one has thought of this idea before (or maybe someone has), but they were so delicious (read: pancakes but heartier and with more sugar). All you do is plop several ping pong-sized balls of dough onto a nonstick skillet over medium heat and wait for them to flatten out. Then flip them over and remove when they are as cooked or uncooked as you'd like. You don't even have to put oil in the pan, because there's already so much butter in the cookies.
  • What I learned: If you decide to try this, you might want to invest in a large frying pan so that you don't have to stand at the stove for an hour flipping cookies.

2. Soft Pretzels

  • The Story: To celebrate finishing midterms, I decided I wanted to make a savory-ish baked good that would take up a lot of my time. So I found a soft pretzel recipe and my friend Val and I attempted soft pretzels.
  • The outcome: They actually tasted like soft pretzels! They weren't quite the same consistency though.
  • What I learned: It's dipping the dough in a baking soda solution that makes soft pretzels taste like soft pretzels! Also, you really do need a pastry brush to brush the beaten egg over any bread product. Otherwise, you might spill the entire beaten egg onto your pan and you might end up with baked egg in addition soft pretzel. This actually wasn't the worst outcome; in fact Val thought the egg-y stuff tasted like cheez-its.
  • Here's the finished product:

3. Quinoa Omelette

  • The Story: I'd made quinoa with some veggies, and my housemate Elizabeth suggested I make an omelette with it.
  • The outcome: It was just okay. There was too much quinoa, not enough egg and not enough flavor.
  • What I learned: Use less quinoa!!

4. Challah

  • The Story: My housemate Emily decided to make a round challah in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I braided the dough (or so I thought)!
  • The outcome: It was scrumptious, but it tasted more like Irish Soda Bread than challah (read: dense not fluffy). There's also a certain technique for challah-braiding about which I didn't know, so the challah came out looking more like this than like these. Oh, well.
  • What we learned: Always make twice as much challah as you think you want -- my three housemates and I devoured the entire challah in less than 24 hours. If you want the challah to be more "challah-like," you should probably bake it for longer. If you want the challah to look classy, you should probably look up how to braid it properly.

5. Stir Fry

  • The Story: I've made so many stir-fries in the past month and a half that I could not possibly recount stories about each recipe, but I can tell you some secrets about the art of stir-fry-making.
  • The outcomes: Very mixed
  • What I've learned: Don't make stir fry too spicy!! The spice overpowers the natural flavors of the veggies. Also, a little bit of maple syrup in the frying pan makes everything better. So does a little bit of almond butter. And a little bit of miso soup broth. If you want to make your tofu flavorful and crunchy, press the tofu and then bathe each cube in cornstarch before pan-frying.

Moral of these stories: Even if you don't know what the hell you're doing, try cooking! You won't be disappointed.