Computer science engineering sophomore Jenn Lypka was making soup one night in her apartment kitchen when she smelled something bad.
It was too late when she realized the burning smell was her grilled cheese sandwich that she was cooking for dinner.
“I turned around and I looked — it was completely black and the smoke was going everywhere,” Lypka said.
Lypka and her roommates tried to get the smoke out of the room by waving towels, but the smoke alarm still went off. Eventually, Lypka just took the battery out of the smoke alarm.
All because of a grilled cheese sandwich.
Cooking can be one of the most daunting parts for students moving out of dorms and into off-campus housing. Some are unfamiliar with the process of cooking and are usually forced to learn once they get to school. Some students cook with ease, while others find it a struggle.
Computer science sophomore Dan Charette said that he cooked a bit growing up, but now that he moved off-campus this year, he cooks five-to-six days a week with his roommates.
“When I first got here, it was not that consistent, it was different having to get groceries at first, and we were kind of lazy so we started eating out a lot," Charette said. "But now that we’ve got into the swing of things, we tend to cook most days of the week."
Charette said he and his roommates have made fried rice, pretzel chicken and crunch wraps. One time, he and his roommates made a mistake and did not chop up a clove of garlic before putting it into their food.
“We had a chunk of it in our food and it was, you know, kind of gross," he said. "But it was fine. It’s just been a learning process. It hasn’t necessarily been bad. We haven’t cooked anything that was atrocious by any means.”
Elementary education sophomore Riley Szara lived in the dorms last year and said she has never been in charge of making her own dinner before. Now since getting to school, she cooks for herself a couple of times a week, usually making pasta, frozen chicken or quesadillas. The other nights she does not cook; instead she eats her leftovers since she is busy with classes.
“Sometimes my schedule is off because I have class until 7, so I’ll be eating later,” Szara said. “I’ll make a quick meal instead of an actual family sit-down meal.”
Lypka often searches through Pinterest for ideas. She said she picks out two or three meals, makes a grocery shopping list and goes from there.
On the other hand, Szara came to school with a self-made cookbook with recipes from a website that she likes. The cookbook is customized with ratings from her family: they would make the recipe, and then everyone would rate the meal and leave notes. Some of the recipes Szara uses are lemon chicken tenders, broccoli casserole and some soups.
“We rate it out of 10,” Szara said. “We say if we liked it or not, and if we should make it again. Or what to change, like add more seasoning or don’t add the sauce. It’s very helpful.”
Keeping notes is a habit that Lypka has started doing too because it helps her keep track of what’s working. For example, she said she tracks how long it takes for the meat to cook or what pans to use with dishes.
“That’s getting a lot easier for me, and I feel like it’s becoming a more natural process,” Lypka said.
For people who are nervous about cooking, Charette recommends cooking with your friends.
“Whether you’re more experienced or they’re more experienced, just to have that learning ability with your friends," Charette said. "And it does grow relationships, I think. Even if it’s just to provide nourishment for the day, you can use it to help grow and have a lot of fun experiences. ... It allows you to just be more creative.”
This story is a part of our Oct. 12 print edition. View the full issue here.
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