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A plate of cookies and milk. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Copy Chief
A plate of cookies and milk. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Copy Chief

Cooking in College: The importance of cooking with and for others

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Food is a universal medium of communication. Offering someone a bite to eat without saying a word is a kind, warm gesture understood by most. If a dish has an appetizing aroma, you’ll know by the smell of the dish itself, and Instagram has proven that simply looking at food is appetizing all on its own.

In many ways, food is a bonding agent between people, a kind of social glue that brings people together. Think about how many times you’ve eaten with at least one other person since the semester started; then consider how many times you’ve talked about each others’ food and perhaps shared it.

Eating with friends and sharing a meal is a fairly integral part of the human experience, and what better time to do so than in college, a time when meeting new people is as easy as breathing and walking?

Living on campus in the residence halls makes it almost too easy to meet acquaintances and friends, and with 27 of the 34 residence halls equipped with kitchen facilities according to the Office of Student Life, it shouldn’t be hard to get to into a kitchen with new roommates, neighbors and friends. On-campus living shouldn’t stop anyone from trying to cook.

Of course, it’s always easier to get delivery or go out to a restaurant, but occasionally, especially with closer friends, it’s worth spending the time to cook together. Split up the work to shorten prep time, and the final dish will be ready for everyone sooner compared to cooking alone.

Additionally, cooking for other people is another great way to make friends in an interesting way. In a college environment, homemade meals are rare, but by being a supplier of one — even if it isn’t as good as mom used to make back home — you’ll have one more interesting trait to distinguish yourself.

When cooking for others, however, consider the recipe. You want to make the right number of servings for the right number of people without slaving away for an unfortunate number of hours. When cooking for a smaller group, it’s easier to do something amazing because you don’t have to make as much; the cliché “quality over quantity” is simpler to live up to.

With larger groups of people, it becomes more difficult to produce something that requires intensive time in the kitchen, making some recipes more effective than others. Cooking some macaroni and cheese for everyone living on your floor of a residence hall isn’t easy, but baking homemade cookies from scratch for large groups is surprisingly easy (and a great way to make new friends).

College is a time to meet new friends, and going on a cooking journey with these new friends is a life experience within itself. So take the time this semester to cook a delicious meal with some friends, and have fun with it.

 

HOMEMADE COOKIES

Raw cookie dough. Credit: Robert Scarpintino / Copy Chief

Raw cookie dough. Credit: Robert Scarpintino / Copy Chief

Prep time: 20 minutes + 1 day (inactive)

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 16

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup of morsels of choice (chocolate chips, butterscotch, etc.)

2 1/2 sticks butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and morsels. Whisk them all together to properly mix them.

In a smaller mixing bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (roughly 1 minute). Then add the 2 eggs and beat them in the melted butter. Add the sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk together all the ingredients in that bowl.

Pour some of the smaller bowl’s mixture into the larger bowl, controlling the flow with a rubber spatula. Mix everything together with the spatula, and then add some more of the smaller bowl’s mixture. Repeat until the cookie dough reaches a solid consistency that isn’t too runny.

Roll out some plastic wrap onto a flat surface. Coat your hands with some all-purpose flour and grab a fistful of the cookie dough. Put the cookie dough on top of the plastic wrap to roll it up. Repeat until you’re all out of cookie dough (I usually end up with three or four wraps).

Let the cookie dough rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

When you want to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 F. While the oven is preheating, cover a baking tray with foil and coat the top with nonstick spray. Break up the cookie dough and roll it into little balls roughly an inch in diameter. Space them out over the baking tray.

When the oven is preheated, put the tray in the oven and let it bake for 16 minutes.

Once done, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 2 minutes. Serve (with milk).

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