Cooking in the Caf (but not really)
The cafeteria, a wonderful place previously mentioned in several of my posts, is home to some great food. I am partial to breakfast, but each meal is special in its own way. However, there are days when I wish I cooked more for myself. I often walk past the hall kitchen and pause for a moment to feel sorry for the microwave used only to burn popcorn, and the perpetually empty oven. Unfortunately I don’t have the utensils or the ingredients necessary to cook anything more than just-add-water muffins, which everybody knows aren’t as good as made-from-scratch muffins. Fortunately, the cafeteria often provides a means for food customization, a process that is not as exciting as cooking, but works as a temporary substitute.
Fancy Burgers: Every day, the cafeteria prepares hamburgers, and jazzing them up with the salad bar can be fun. The most obvious burger that one can create using the salad bar is a cheese burger. It’s easy to sprinkle some grated cheese on the patty and call it a day though additional measures can be taken. A quick 20 seconds in the microwave will melt the cheese, and if you like, crispy lettuce and some ketchup make it really good. Being adventurous with hamburgers can lead to some interesting combinations. Here is my personal favorite: Take a plain burger, add some grated cheese, a small spoon of salsa, and an even smaller spoon of sour cream.
Floats & Milkshakes: Making a float is something I’ve never done, but I have seen others do it. Get a glass, partially fill it with a soda of your choice, and add some ice cream from the ice cream machine. Grab a straw and maybe a spoon, and enjoy! Milkshakes are a bit more work intensive. There is a machine in the Bistro for milkshakes, I believe, but if you run out of dining dollars and don’t feel up to using cash, the cafeteria does have the necessary ingredients. Get a glass and put some ice cream in it, splash in some milk, and stir it up until it reaches a drinkable consistency.
Grilled Sandwiches: The panini press opens a door to a world of sandwich opportunity. Basically, one can turn any sandwich into a grilled sandwich: grilled cheese, grilled PB&J, grilled anything!
Ice Cream Sandwiches: If you go into the cafeteria wanting ice cream, but you see those chocolate chip cookies you love so much, how do you choose which one to eat? You don’t have to! Grab two cookies, put some ice cream on one of them, and make an ice cream sandwich. Another option is to get two chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies and spread some peanut butter between them.
(Un)Vegan Surprise: The vegan station often has a variety of dishes that taste good together. If you ever feel homesick for Mom’s leftover casserole, Vegan Surprise is a great substitute. Get a bowl, and spoon some of everything from the station into it. Sometimes Vegan Surprise tastes better if you un-vegan it with some cheese or sour cream, but this only works if the flavors mesh together well. For example, I would not recommend putting shredded cheese on curry tofu, but it tastes great on black beans and rice.
I love cooking and baking actual food like Thai curry and chocolate cake, but when I can’t, I get creative in the cafeteria. Now you can, too!