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Cooking Off Campus: A Welcome and Some Cookies

It’s August: the air is hot, humid, and buzzing with cicadas. You smell of sunblock and sweat, and you’ve got a nice, dark lifeguard’s tan. The last few months have been long and lazy, full of girlfriends and movie nights and maybe a cute summer fling.

And then they start arriving. The bursar email from Cornell, requesting the king’s ransom they call tuition. The book list from the Cornell Store. A fall schedule for the marching band/crew team/ballroom dance club/etc. And finally, an email from your landlord, detailing move-in procedures. Because that’s right: this year, you’re living off-campus.

No big deal, right? I mean, you know how to do your own laundry these days, and you’ve scrounged up some really adorable curtains. And it’s not like you don’t know how to cook. You can totally make pasta. And sandwiches. And really good pancakes. And let’s be serious: really good pancakes are all a girl needs.

But maybe you have a gas stove in the new kitchen, and you grew up with electric. Or vice versa. Maybe you think you might get sick of pasta, sandwiches, and pancakes. Maybe you realize that when exams roll around, that trip to Wegmans is going to feel like a trip to Pluto, and even the act of boiling water for your pasta will feel like watching grass grow. Maybe you’re 99% sure you’re forgetting to bring something (you need knives, spoons, and something else…), but you don’t know what it is. Maybe you’ve actually never made pasta in your life, and to you a pancake is something that comes out of the freezer and goes in the microwave. Maybe you’re a fabulous cook, and you’re just looking for a few new ideas.

No matter what sort of cook you are, every off-campus collegiette needs to eat. And so here are all the answers, tasty and technical, to your cooking woes.

BONUS: Here’s a recipe for some delicious cookies. At my apartment, we call them Marydoodles in honor of a friend who once ate nearly a dozen of them in one go. Use them to charm the cute boys in the apartment above you or to reward yourself for scrubbing the bathroom.

Marydoodles (Oatmeal Chocolate Craisin Cookies)

½ cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. (or a little less) salt
3 cups oats (uncooked, quick or old-fashioned)
½ cup (or a little more) craisins
½ cup (or a little more) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. (If you’re not afraid of a mess, using your hands to mix these works well. The warmth of your hands gives the butter a nice melty consistency.) Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Add the combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and mix again. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and craisins.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes, or until your cookies are very lightly golden brown. Cool them for one minute on the cookie sheet, then remove and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Variation: Use golden raisins instead of craisins, or throw in a ½ cup of walnuts.

Tip: After a couple of days, the cookies will start to dry out, even when properly stored. To prevent this, throw a piece of plain sandwich bread into the container you’re storing the cookies in.

So get baking, before the semester really gets underway and you all have too much work to do!

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