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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

The art of cooking Ramen noodles -- or, how to eat like a student and thrive

By Erin Didericksen

March 09, 2006 | You wake up each morning to make an 8:30 class and stay in school until 2:30. Then, you race to work where you stay until 7. As you drive home, you think about the paper that is due tomorrow, the test next Monday and the study group you have at 9:00. You look down as your stomach rumbles and realize that you need to eat. "I don't have much time," you think. What can you scrounge up for dinner? You hardly even know how to cook!

For most students, college is the first time they venture out into the world as an independent. No more curfews, no more rules and no more home cooked meals. What?! Does this mean I have to make everything I eat? Yes, it's true. For many, this is the first time that cooking skills are put to the test. With so much time spent going to classes and doing homework and with most jobs only paying minimum wage, one might ask, "Forget even knowing how to cook -- how am I going to have the time or the money to cook any kind of food?" There may be a few tips to help remedy this daunting challenge and hopefully help the poor, ill-fed college student survive.

Start Out Simple With college cooking, there is a staple on which most students survive. In fact, it could be its own food group. This incredibly vital food is called Ramen noodles. Not only are they cheap, ranging from 8 to 50 cents, but they are fast and easy. They come in a plethora of flavors: chicken, beef, seafood, oriental, just to name a few. The classic way to cook Ramen is to boil the noodles in water, add the seasoning packet and enjoy a tasty noodle soup. However, soup gets boring pretty fast. Not to worry, Ramen noodles can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be fried in vegetable oil and served with the seasoning packet sprinkled over it. You can add chicken to them to make a more filling meal. There are salad recipes, soup recipes, even recipes to use leftover Thanksgiving dinner! Although this recipe takes longer to make, one of my favorite Ramen recipes is:

Ramen Noodle Salad Submitted By: Vera Submitted From: Lawrence, KS, USA Dressing Ingredients: 2/3 cups oil 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup vinegar Salad Ingredients: 1 pkg. cole slaw mix 2 bunches of green onions (chopped) 1 cup sliced almonds 1 cup sunflower seeds 2 pkg. chicken ramen noodles (broken up, with seasoning) Mix dressing ingredients and let sit overnight, do not refrigerate. The next day? Mix salad ingredients. Add dressing and toss. Let stand for a few hours.

This recipe was found at the Official Ramen Homepage. For more easy and fun Ramen recipes, click here.

Potatoes are another fast and cheap food to utilize. A five pound bag of potatoes usually costs around a dollar and they last about a month. Most people like potatoes, whether they be roasted, baked, mashed, fried, boiled or grilled. For a baked potato, simply poke holes into the potato with a fork, stick it in the microwave for two and a half minutes, turn the potato and cook in the microwave for another two and a half minutes. It is great with ranch dressing, sour cream, cheese, ham or any other creation one can come up with. Cream of chicken soup is a good sauce on both a baked potato and rice.

For a more extravagant but easy dinner, packaged meals are the way to go. Rice a Roni and Pasta Roni sell for about a dollar. These add a little more flavor to the meal and take about 20 minutes to cook. TV dinners are another cheap, fast option but they are not very healthy.

The Health Factor

One worry college freshmen have is, "how do I fight the Freshman 15?" The Freshman 15, a theory that freshmen will gain at least 15 pounds, is one reason to eat healthy. One of the easiest healthy meals to cook is vegetables over rice. Fresh vegetables are the best, however frozen vegetables are more inexpensive and keep longer. The ease of this meal heightens if a rice cooker is handy. Simply pour rice and water into the cooker and pour the vegetables into the steamer, which is located on the top of the cooker. It will cook and then keep the food warm until it is taken out of the cooker.

"I live off of rice and salad. It is so fast and easy and it's healthy too. It's perfect right before I have to run to work," said Jennifer Cecil.

Salad is a classic health food although lettuce is known not to keep for a long time. One tip to make lettuce stay fresh longer is to shred the whole lettuce head into a bowl, add garnishes such as carrots, cover the bowl with a wet paper towel and refrigerate. Every time the salad is eaten, wet the paper towel again. This salad should stay fresh for about a week. For a new, easy dressing, a fun recipe is: Poppy Seed Dressing Mix together: 2 Tbs white vinegar 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup milk 1 Tbs poppy seeds (Note: Although it is called poppy seed dressing, poppy seeds are quite expensive and the dressing is still tasty without the seeds.)

Other Helpful Hints Chicken is pretty inexpensive, as far as meat goes. Plus it can last a long time in the freezer. Chicken preparation is pretty effortless, although it does take about 30-45 minutes to fully cook.

Onions should not be stored with potatoes. On the Cooking Light webpage, it says, "The interaction of [the onion and potatoes] natural gases causes the potatoes to rot more quickly."

Tofu, beans and mushrooms are inexpensive substitutions for meat. Spam is also an inexpensive and fun meat.

To save costs, it may be helpful to collaborate with roommates.

"One thing I have discovered helps a lot is to split certain foods with my roommate. I can't drink a whole gallon of milk before it goes sour or go through a block of cheese before it molds. So my roommate and I split them and the food never spoils!" said Heidi Young, a sophomore at Utah State University.

Always keep an eye on the sales and coupons which grocery stores offer. Spending a little time cutting out coupons may save more than expected. Also, Wal-Mart will beat any price of other grocery stores. Warehouse stores such as Pepperidge Farms and Gossner's will sell their products a lot cheaper than grocery stores. Although they make be packaged oddly, the food is still just as useable. Finally, dinner groups could help cut costs and also saves on time.

"My apartment combines with another apartment and we have dinner groups every Monday through Friday. I only have to cook once every two weeks, I get to try fun, new foods and it's a great way to make new friends!" said Aubrey Redmond.

If none of these tips are beneficial to you, the only solutions left for you are to: 1. Starve. 2. Live off of popcorn and water. 3. Revert back to eating out all the time. 4. Try reading some college cooking books. 5. Get more creative! Try cooking breakfast with an iron or try cooking an egg with cell phones!

Whatever method you use, good luck and may you survive college!

NW
DJH

Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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