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UMass Lowell students get creative with communal cooking

Cassandra Milnes
Connector Contributor

Cooking commonly takes two things, skill and ingredients. Most college students have one or neither of these, especially campuses like UMass Lowell that have no culinary program. This means a few simple meals are the way to go in communal kitchens. A few meals most UMass Lowell students make in communal kitchens are mac & cheese, grilled cheese, microwave cakes and cookies, ramen, pancakes and hot pockets . With limited resources and budgets, students often have to be creative in the kitchen.

To make microwave cookies, there is a great recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe  for 60-second chocolate chip cookies in a mug. The only ingredients needed are chocolate chips, sugar, one egg, flour and butter. All that for a delicious desert that can be made in the microwave within minutes! Those are a few simple meals that almost anyone can make, but there are always those wannabe chefs that go all out, making items such as kabobs. These specialty items are usually made by students living in on campus apartments, or other areas with larger kitchens, such as Riverview West and Middlesex 1301.

Every up-and-coming adult, also known as college students, should own certain cooking and dining essentials. Dining essentials include:  utensils, plates, bowls, napkins and drinkware. These are the items everyone should have, whether they cook five-course meals or only make a bowl of cereal each morning. Cooking essentials are where college students are usually lacking. These include pots, pans, measuring cups and a can opener. Most people see a can opener at Target or Market Basket and think, “I am never going to need this in college.” Then a week later, they cannot open a can of soup and wish they bought the can opener when they had the chance.

On each floor of the residential buildings on campus, there is either one or no kitchen. For example, Riverview East has no communal kitchen because Riverview West has kitchens in each apartment. This lack of accessibility to kitchens can be daunting, so many people are purchasing more appliances for their dorms, suites and apartments. Common appliances include a microwave, a mini fridge and coffee maker, but UMass Lowell students are getting creative. They have started purchasing rice cookers and crockpots with an automatic shutoff, per request of Residence Life. This is leading to more creative meals with rice as sides. A few of these meals are beef stew, meatballs and soup. A few great websites with recipes for cooking with crockpots are Country Living, Food Network, Eating Well and YouTube.

“Every Sunday, all UML students should grill in the parking lot,” said one upperclassman, who wished to remain anonymous, as he and his friends regularly grill outside of their car in the South Campus Riverview parking lot. These students proved that cooking in college can vary if you have imagination, and a grill in your trunk.

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