Cooking with Claire: Settling into the kitchen

“Cooking with Claire” is an introduction to dining beyond the dining hall using easy, fast and cheap recipes.

This Aug. 4, 2016 photo shows skirt steak with beer-braised black beans and corn salsa, styled by Sarah Abrams, displayed at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Elizabeth Karmel. (Richard Drew/AP)

When The Daily Campus approached me about writing a column this year, I struggled to find a topic that would interest everyone. Besides being connected to the University of Connecticut in some way or another, what do we all have in common? After many brainstorming sessions, I found the answer: we all eat.

Whether you’re living in a dorm or an apartment, good food will always be essential to your health and happiness. While the dining hall might seem fresh and convenient, the same foods every week will soon become a bore. Thankfully, there are always easy, fast and cheap recipes that can be made in a dorm or an apartment.

This column will take on a different topic every week, but each will follow the cooking theme. Some topics might include: microwave cooking, vegetarian cooking, baking, seasonal favorites, low-calorie cooking, gluten free cooking, slow-cooker cooking and much. Some weeks may focus less on food and more on tips or tricks, best utensils and cookware, or best grocery store deals. Some weekly topics might even include a full recipe.

In addition to the weekly column, I’ll try to submit personal photos of my cuisine and kitchen. You’ll even see step-by-step videos of the cooking process.

Before we get cooking though, we’ll need to go over some basics. Specifically, which utensils and cookware your kitchen needs.

If you’re living in a traditional dorm, your cooking appliances are usually limited to a fridge, microwave and maybe a coffee maker. In addition to those though, make sure you have a few microwave safe bowls and plates. The bowls can be used for microwaving up desserts and entrées, while the plates can be great for a cutting surface. Purchase a few Tupperware containers for leftovers and cold meals. To make the most of your small space, buy a basket or bin to store your basic cooking supplies on top of your mini-fridge.

In an apartment, more tools and appliances can be brought in. A few baking sheets, pots and pans are really all you need for cooking on a daily basis. Beyond that, toaster ovens can toast more than bread and are relatively inexpensive. Blenders can make smoothies and sauces. Slow-cookers, or crockpots practically cook the meal for you, especially if you’re busy all day until dinner time. Small utensils like peelers, can openers, cutting boards, oven mitts, spatulas and spoons are very helpful and will last long past your college years.

In either a dorm or an apartment, there are a few more tools that are helpful. Measuring spoons and cups are an absolute must. A cup of flour can look different to everyone. Saran wrap, or cling wrap, can be used to cover a bowl in the fridge or microwave. A few pieces of silverware are a necessity.

With a few kitchen essentials, you’ll be ready to craft your own delicious meals and snacks.


Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.