Friday, August 31, 2007

Welcome to DormEdible

Greetings, fellow residents of the interblag.

My name is Ellie. I'm a college sophomore double-majoring in two completely different fields and involved in several jobs and organizations on campus, which means that I rarely have time to be the gourmet dorm chef I'd like to be.

I'm a vegetarian-going-on-whole-foodist-and-eco-friendly-hippie, which is a project I officially undertook this summer. I'm going to spend my year at school slowly making the transition, and by next school year I hope to be ready to get off board and be free from processed cafeteria crap forever.

In the meantime, I thought I would start a blog about this process. Here you'll mostly find recipes, restaurant and food reviews, and healthy cafeteria creations. Every once in a while I'll probably document some of the steps I'm taking to be eco-friendly, too.

Why am I doing this? There are a few reasons:

1) I spent the summer watching the Food Network and reading nice cookbooks, and honestly I'm tired of people trying to tell me that I need meat, a $100 knife, a fully-stocked pantry and an herb garden in my backyard to cook a decent meal. I'm frustrated by this assumption that you have to be able to afford a $200 trip to Whole Foods once a week to cook good food and eat right.

Healthy, yummy, edible, minimally-processed food can fit into any budget better than processed crap can. And cooking it is fun; living in a dorm room or your first apartment shouldn't disqualify you from the process.

2) I often learn and process things by writing about it. This blog isn't meant to be an expert preaching to you about how to run your kitchen. I'm a 19-year-old amateur cook who has plenty to learn herself. And it can't hurt to have some sort of record of foods I like and recipes that work.

3) I want to encourage other people to put down the box of Boca Burgers once in a while and cook something they'll actually want to eat.

Just to give you an idea, here are the only resources I'm working with:

  • -A very supportive and culinarily adventurous girlfriend, save for spicy things (Anyone on my campus? Now accepting applications for Ellie's Official Spicy Things Second-Opinionator.)
  • -One vegan cookbook, plus mad recipe googling skillz.
  • -A small fridge, a microwave, and a toaster in my room.
  • -A small kitchen in the basement of the dorm with a full fridge, stove, and oven.
  • -A small collection of flatware and mugs I like.
  • -Tuppahwares.
  • -A cheap-o "Apartment Starter" set of cookware I bought at Target for $25.
  • -A few staples, like rice and pasta and cereal and yogurt.
  • -A campus convenience store, which doesn't sell produce or anything like that, but is usually pretty veggie friendly and open to suggestions.
  • -A once-a-week local farmer's market in walking distance (in season).
  • -A very small but expensive natural food market and bakery in walking distance.
  • -A traditional grocery store (not in walking distance, and I don't have a car).
  • -A pair of cargo pants.

[Cargo pants, you ask?

Well, okay, don't tell anyone this, but seeing as I'm still on board at school and fresh produce isn't immediately accessible (have to drive to grocery or wait until Saturday for the farmer's market), once in a rare while I'll bring a ziploc bag into the cafeteria in my cargo pants and nick a few carrots or something from the salad bar. Against policy, sure, but I don't think they'll miss them. We're paying almost $10 a meal to eat that shit.]

Obviously this situation isn't ideal. I'd love to have a nice knife and my own freezer and a waffle iron and a food processor and a nice set of cast-iron pans and a dishwasher to wash all that, but I don't, and probably not a lot of people who have had anything to do recently with the $130,000 investment that is a college education do.

My solution to this problem is not and won't ever be to get married and sign up for a Crate & Barrel gift registry. (This is honestly the only reason I would want to be married anytime soon, and somehow I don't think that's good enough.)

Really all I can do is suck it up and make do with what I have. I plan to be creative and open-minded and willing to give up once in a while and go to the cafeteria for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

So if you're interested, stick around! I'd also love to hear suggestions for things to cook or try, your attempts at a recipe, questions, anything.