How Do I Cook in a Dorm?
Since the day we founded Big Girls, Small Kitchen, cooking and entertaining questions have arrived in our inbox and our comments section. At first we were like, “who? us? advice?” But after more than three years of solving culinary problems, we can honestly say we’re here for you. And since you might want to know the answer to other quarter-life cooks’ questions, we’re unveiling this new, ongoing q&a section to highlight your queries and share our responses.
If you’d like to ask us anything about quarter-life cooking, shoot us an email with your question to bgsk [at] biggirlssmallkitchen [dot] com!
**Ask Us Anything: What Can I Make in a Military Dorm?**
I’m living the military dorm life again for a while, and am missing my full kitchen. Right now my appliances are a two-burner hot plate, a crock pot, microwave, and pizza oven. I’ve made a pot roast, and some couscous, some rice, and lots of sandwiches. Do you have any suggestions for meals that can be made with what I have? I still have an inordinate amount of rice/couscous left, along with some yogurt, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and beef. Oh, and some tofu! Sure, they have a chow hall, but who wants to eat chow every day? Not me! Any ideas?
It sounds like you are definitely on the right track with using your limited resources to make delicious meals. A pot roast on a hot plate is an achievement – my mom once did that when we were fixing up the kitchen and were relegated to cooking in the laundry room. It’s impressive!!
I have two pieces of advice. The first, which sounds kind of silly, is to identify your favorite food/food combinations. Do you love rice, couscous, and beef? If you do, great. But if your real affection is for sandwiches and pizza, then focus on those to satisfy you while you’re cooking in such limited way.
Which brings me to my second point. Since your repertoire is finite right now, you’ll have to rev it up in small, inventive ways without embarking on ambitious kitchen experiments. Instead of making another plain grilled cheese sandwich, make a mushroom grilled cheese, a pepperoni grilled cheese, or a pesto grilled cheese. Pesto, store-bought or homemade, is a great one to keep around, as it’ll make everything from couscous to pizza taste a lot more interesting and even “gourmet.” Along the same lines, see if you can add mix-ins to the mayo you spread on your sandwiches–try hot sauce, a Caesar-like combo of Parm and anchovies, or chopped chives. You didn’t mention cooking eggs, but they’re a great go-to, and the same idea applies: scrambled eggs with cheddar and scallions are not the same as a fried egg on top of rice and vegetables.
You should also check out the dorm and dining hall combinations our Small Kitchen College writers have come up with. They’ve made cashew chicken in the microwave and all kinds of quesadillas in the George Forman grill.
And, when you’re desperate and down to your last odds and ends, I recommend improvising a stir fry: put tofu/beef/rice/carrots/ANYTHING in a hot pan, add seasonings, and you’ll have a decent, satisfying meal.
Any other advice for Bethany?