Cooking between Classes: a college cooking blog is born

I proudly add a new link to my Blogroll.

My younger daughter, a senior at UW-Madison double majoring in journalism and biological aspects of conservation, just started blogging  – Cooking between Classes aimed at empowering her fellow college students to take charge of what they eat.

For fun, I interviewed her on her background and motives.

Because the stove was broken when she moved into her apartment this fall, the landlord put in a brand new one!  It's getting a workout.

Because the stove was broken when she moved into her apartment this fall, the landlord put in a brand new one! It's getting a workout.

Describe the evolution of your attitude to food based on growing up in a home where “whole-grain goodness” was the rule of the kitchen to your current position.

When I lived at home, I didn’t really think that much about being healthy.  I didn’t think that what I was eating was stranger than what other people ate.  I mean I knew there was junk food, but I didn’t worry about getting a nutritious meal.

When I got to college, I tried to think about nutrition in the dorm cafeteria.  I was always reading the fiber and fat content on the food, but I was also getting into the sugary cereals they had there.  I think my favorite was Golden Grahams — basically snack food without any nutritional value at all.

By the time I moved into my first apartment where there wasn’t a cafeteria, and the only person preparing my food was me — I didn’t really know what to eat. I didn’t even know what to buy at the grocery store.  I remember feeling really overwhelmed.  I bought a lot of frozen dinners and things like that.  But soon I was eating really badly.  Sometimes I would have a bag of potato chips for dinner.

Eating that kind of food I shot way past the Freshman 15 that students tend to gain when they hit college, and that made me aware that I needed to start eating better.

And so I started doing Weight Watchers on line and preparing meals based on their recipes, which were really simple– always trying to find short cuts like buying pre-shredded cheese and canned tuna.  That’s what really got me cooking.

From there I guess I’ve always been interested in trying to eat organic.  And I learned about food issues this past year.  About the fossil fuels that go into transporting food and destructive practices that go into growing and harvesting food on a massive scale.  So I became interested in buying local.

...Locally-grown chard trumps Golen Grahams!  A mother rejoices.

...Locally-grown chard trumps Golen Grahams! A mother rejoices.

When I started buying things from the Farmers Market, they all tasted really good, so I got more into cooking.  I had always liked to bake deserts. I liked playing around with recipes and trying my own variations.    (Proud mom’s note:  She won our neighborhood Blueberry Hill’s blueberry baking contest twice in the kid’s category and twice  in the adult category before entering high school!)

At this point I know I spend more time cooking than the average college student, but I enjoy it.  I like using it as a study break.

I make several meals worth at a time and freeze it.  I like knowing that I’m spending time on a healthy dinner  that I am probably going to eat for 3-4 nights of the week.

I get up before 6 most week day mornings.  I know I could get up later if I were just pouring myself a bowl of cereal, but I like to eat pancakes made from scratch.  I can trace the origins of almost all of the ingredients in that breakfast.  I’m using local flour, eggs and jelly.

(I don’t really know where baking power and baking soda come from, but I don’t know how I would live life without them either.)

At this point cooking is one of my daily activities.  It’s something that I incorporate.  It’s like a recreation for me.  Some people are in glee club.  I cook.

So, what else are you doing this semester besides cooking?

Taking 16 credits

Working 15 hours a week

Training for a half marathon 4-8 hours a week

Practicing piano about 5 hours a week

Do you have time to socialize?

Oh yeah.  And my friends don’t mind eating my Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies either.

What made you add blogging to that schedule?

I began this blog as an honors project for environmental studies class project.  I’m getting extra credit for it, but it seems like a cool way to share with my fellow college students about how easy it is to buy food at the farmers market.

Or cook dinner for yourself once a week.

Or just make yourself a healthy treat from local ingredients.

I haven’t started to publicize it yet because I only have a few posts.

Once I get it a little more established I will start sending it out to my friends and promoting it in my class and see where it goes.

...This is what fuels one busy student.

...This is what fuels one busy student.

I feel like a lot of college students end up eating ramen for dinner.  But if you treat fast food like it’s not an option, you open up a world of possibilities.  If you don’t fall back on frozen pizza but instead think I’ll just whip up some whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and cheese on top of it – it can make a big change in your life in a lot of ways.

6 replies

  1. If she were my daughter, I’d be proud of her. Sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders. Would that have something to do with her family and her upbringing (Grin)?

    By the way, I’ve always despised Ramen. So many people eat that stuff, as if it’s the only food worth eating either in the dorm or out on the backpacking trail.

  2. Yes, I admit to feeling very proud, but more than that — happy that she is setting herself up for a healthy life.

  3. I started cooking three years ago when I was a freshman at the University of Connecticut. I wish more kids understood that you can make good-tasting, nutritious meals cheaply and quickly. I actually find it relaxing. I’m also blogging about college cooking. Glad I’m not alone. I would love to have a link to your daughter’s blog.

    • It’s great to hear from you, Amy. I think that being able to make oneself and one’s friends quick, healthy, inexpensive (and sustainable!) food is a basic life skill.
      My older daughter was amazed in grad school to see her peers spending small fortunes eating out three meals a day.
      Plus it’s a great way to have fun.
      More power to you!
      Here is my daughter’s blog address. I hope you two connect.

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