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Patrick Donnelly
09-20-2008, 09:45 AM
So, now that I'm in college, I have a bit more control over what I eat. There's still my dining hall meal plan, but me eating from that costs about $20 per day, and won't last the entire semester, so I've got to supplement with groceries from the local Shoppers. Giant and Safeway are right next to each other, in the same direction as Safeway, but twice as far away, so they're an option too but not preferred. There's a place called My Organic Market about 2.5 miles away in the opposite direction - I hear they're like Trader Joes (closest is 5.5mi), so they may be worth checking out at least once.

My cooking experience is limited (mostly grilling meat, boiling veggies), so I'm looking for advice on the following:

Sweet Potatoes: I've only had them boiled, which I liked, never had them baked. I can't find any consensus on the time/heat it takes to bake or boil (obviously boiling is 212 degrees). Any tips on spices too?

Avocados: I've had a few plain and raw now, and they were pretty good. I'm happy with them that way, but always looking for more options. Shopper has them 10 for $10 this week, so I'm about to grab a bundle. Most of the recipes I've seen are simply putting it on top of a salad (avocado cumcuber salad, avocado mushroom salad, avocado tossed ceaser, etc.), which really isn't much of a recipe.

Beef Hearts: Something that just caught my eye last time I was in Shoppers... No experience with them.

Beef Liver: Again.

Any other strange cuts of meat: I'm willing to give them a shot.

Duck Fat: I recall seeing this mentioned in a few recipes on this site. What's it for?

Tahini (spelling?): Same thing.

The following tools are at my disposal:
- George Foreman Grill (about 8x8 inches)
- 10 inch skillet (deep, with a glass lid)
- spatula
- cutting board
- knife
- minifridge with microfreezer
- oven (for the whole dorm hall, but I don't think it gets any use)
- normal fridge and freezer (for the whole dorm hall - I wouldn't leave anything easily edible in the fridge part, but I don't think anyone would take a hunk of raw meat if I left it sitting in the freezer)
- microwave (one in the my floor's lounge, and in the dorm all kitchen)

I'm really tempted to bring my Cuisinart to make up some nut butters, but that thing would be a pain to clean up without a dishwasher, and I don't have anywhere to buy nuts from anyway.

Also, are there any P-Menus with particularly good recipes in them?

Thanks in advance,
Patrick

Frank Needham
09-20-2008, 01:59 PM
If it were me living in a dorm I'd be looking for the most simple and effective ways to get in the Pro/CHO/Fat. Buy stuff that doesn't need lots of prep. Use your imagination, that is basically what cooking is all about. For example, how hard is it to buy and eat raw fish? Yesterday I did just that, took two ahi tuna steaks to work with some wasabi and chowed down on them at lunch. Buy cooked chickens from Walmart etc, etc. Also, living on campus is terrible (just look at the conditions you describe), consider getting some like-minded mates and share a place.

Jaime Steele
09-20-2008, 02:10 PM
Patrick

A few quick ones as I have a littl ebaby to put ot bed. I'll send you more tomoro:

Sweet potato - baked in the oven in coconut oil - 20 mins at about 190 - cut them nice and thin and put them on a baking tray (not on top of each other).
Boil and puree with hand blender with a load of butter and some salt and pepper - really good too. You can add nutmeg too. Some people were saying about microwaving them - haven't tried it but i guess for a big one try cooking on high for 8 mins after spiking it with a fork. if it's not cooked go a bit more.

Avocado - look at guacamole - avocado, garlic, lime juice, small bit of tomato, salt pepper, sour cream - awesome. I love to eat them raw too tho, or chopped up in a salad.

Duck fat - good for cooking in, goose fat is good too. Olive oil also great and I love using the coconut oil - get some of that - you can cook everything in it and it gives a diff flavour.

If you are going to cook organ meats get a pressure cooker if it's viable but you will need a stove. Liver you can fry but I think heart needs longer cooking times as it is a tougher meat. For ease I buy in bulk grassfed beef, in steaks, pieces and minced, freeze and defrost as I need. Same with chicken. Also there is nothing wrong with frozen veggies and berries - that way you use what you need and don't have any wastage.

Tahini is sesame seed paste - loads of uses. Keep making you nut butters they are great. Get some bags of nuts too they last for ages.

A good tip is cook double or triple and then keep some for the next day, then you don't have to repeat the task of cooking it all.

In my day as a student days all those years ago it was bags of pasta and rice and cans of tuna and spend our money on beer! Good for you tho - I wish I knew all this cool stuff back then.

Good luck with the college and remember to bag a few hotties! I'm so jealous!

I'm sure Jay will chip in with some more.....

Gittit Shwartz
09-20-2008, 03:01 PM
Tahini is my field!

Traditional tahini sauce (dressing for salad and grilled meat):
Mix 1 part tahini with 1 part lemon juice and cold water combined, and salt to taste. At first as you mix it it will oddly seem to start getting thicker. Keep mixing until it smooths out.
Even better: put the above ingredients in a blender with a clove of garlic, parsley, cilantro and mint.

Salty tahini spread:
Mix tahini with wheat-free tamari to taste, spread on celery. Takes care of a lot of cravings.

Halva - sweet tahini spread:
Mix tahini with a small amount of honey. Mix with ground flax seeds, roll into balls and refrigerate for "candy".

Siniyya - arguably the queen of all Middle Eastern dishes:
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
Bahrat seasoning OR mix 2 parts cinnamon to 1 part nutmeg and 1 part ground cloves
Chopped parsley and onion
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 to 2/3 cup lemony, salty tahini sauce (see recipe #1)
Handful of pine nuts

Mix the meat with spices. Oil small pan and pack the meat on the bottom about 3/4 inch thick. Bake about 20 minutes, till the meat is browned. Pour tahini sauce all over the meat, sprinkle pine nuts, and bake another 10-15 minutes, till the sauce on top is a little brown and flaky.

Drooool.

Jaime Steele
09-20-2008, 07:33 PM
Also canned wild salmon and boiled eggs kept in your fridge will also be useful. Sometimes I like to mix salmon, mayo, avocado, cheese and cooked brocolli together in a bowl and eat it for a quick meal.

Patrick Donnelly
09-21-2008, 08:00 AM
Yesterday I had a Foreman-grilled chicken breast (just salt/pepper seasoning) and boiled sweet potatoes with honey (I think I boiled them too soft). It was awesome. Not only are sweet potatoes awesome to begin with, but the water from the potatoes and the juices from the chicken mixed together on the plate, giving the chicken a slight honey taste too. The only seasoning on the potatoes was a bit of salt in the water as they boiled.

If it were me living in a dorm I'd be looking for the most simple and effective ways to get in the Pro/CHO/Fat. Buy stuff that doesn't need lots of prep.

Simple stuff? Bah, I did that the entire time I was at home! Tuna, an apple, and some almonds, calling it a meal. It's easy, but no fun.

There's a good chance I'll end up looking for a room College Park sometime this summer. Not only is housing getting full on campus, but there's a good amount of money to be saved from doing it. I could probably get a room for a year for some $7500, and then another $3000 for food for the year. UMD charges $5500 for dorm housing for the two semesters and another $3500 for food to eat during those two semesters (which isn't enough to cover the whole semester, and makes it a bit of a hassle to avoid grain). Then there's $12,000 coming off the tuition, beginning Junior year. Lastly, I could also do without hearing the drunken imbeciles screaming outside my dorm at 2AM. Thank goodness for earplugs.

Re: Jaime
I had completely forgotten about coconut milk/oil. I'll have to look into that next time I visit Shopper's. Loads of good possibilities there.

Looking for beef heart suggestions, I've seen methods of boiling that take 2-3 hours, and methods of stirfrying that take 2-3 minutes (for very finely chopped pieces). I'll pick up a package on my next grocery trip, some onion and peppers too.

I've been using the "cook in bulk so you don't have to later" trick for a long time now. Previously, I'd even grill a week's worth of meat in advance, which probably wasn't the best thing to do, since the stuff would be a bit flavorless and old by days 5-7, but it worked. Now I can only do about 2-3 days at a time, which is fine by me.

Canned salmon is okay, but I can only handle the stuff when mixed in scrambled eggs. Otherwise, the smell, the taste, and just the looks of it are too strong.

In my day as a student days all those years ago it was bags of pasta and rice and cans of tuna and spend our money on beer! Good for you tho - I wish I knew all this cool stuff back then.

Good luck with the college and remember to bag a few hotties! I'm so jealous!
Tuna? That's been replaced by Celeste pizzas. I can attribute all of the equipment I own right now to staying away from blowing my time and money on whiskey, weed, and women all throughout high school. I'm still staying off the whiskey and the weed, but if I can find a nice girl who has some decency, I would be very happy. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many of them around; the guys don't seem to mind.

Re: Gittit
That last one does sound good. I'll take a look for the tahini next time I'm around. Does it need refrigeration?

Ari Kestler
09-21-2008, 08:47 AM
I've been to the MOM you describe...it is kinda like trader joes, but it's expensive. I'm not sure what the closest TJs is to you, there is one in rockville and maybe one in columbia.

If you are living in a dorm and have a tiny fridge, like others have mentioned, gonna have to keep it easy

protein: hard boiled eggs, canned fish, eat meat whenever possible
carbs: fruit, try and find some veggies at every meal
fat: nuts, olive oil, avocado

Yeah it may be boring, but as far as your living conditions go it's the easiest thing.

Do you work out at the UMD gym?

Frank Needham
09-21-2008, 12:15 PM
Obviously our ideas of simple are not the same. By "simple", I mean using using high quality food and seasonings in the most efficient way possible. When I used the word "tuna" what I actually ate was sashimi grade with Japanese wasabi. Oh well, I tried.

Kris Reeves
09-21-2008, 03:05 PM
The meal plan may be expensive, but can't you also eat as much as you want? I.E. - Sneak in tupperware and use it to stock your dorm fridge with stuff?

I'm thinking...fresh spinach and hard boiled eggs, etc. from the salad bar....and burger meat and/or sliced roasted turkey and roast beef when they do the carving stations?

I didn't go to UMD (but I did go to college in DC and currently live/work in the DC metro area)...but I think it's possible...and if I had that choice now...trust me...I would definitely get my $20/day out of it!!!! Considering it costs $11-13 dollars to grab a decent salad out fur lunch anywhere around DC....$20 a day isn't so bad.


How many meals/visits a day is your plan?

Gittit Shwartz
09-21-2008, 03:17 PM
Re: Gittit
That last one does sound good. I'll take a look for the tahini next time I'm around. Does it need refrigeration?

Siniyya is awesome and will give you superpowers. Tahini doesn't need refrigeration. Hmmm... I don't know what brands you have there. Look for 100% sesame (sometimes they pre-mix it with water and seasonings) but if you have a choice don't get "whole kernel sesame butter" - the hulls make it bitter.

I edited the recipe above btw - you'll only need 1/2 to 2/3 cup prepared sauce for 1 lb. meat.

George Mounce
09-21-2008, 03:47 PM
All my meat is now pretty much smoked for 4-8 hours. Tonight is a whole smoked chicken!

Patrick Donnelly
09-21-2008, 05:08 PM
I've been to the MOM you describe...it is kinda like trader joes, but it's expensive. I'm not sure what the closest TJs is to you, there is one in rockville and maybe one in columbia.

Expensive like Whole Foods, or somewhere in between that and TJ's?

Do you work out at the UMD gym?

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday I'm in the HHP (Health & Human Performance Center) Gymkana room for about an hour in the 5-7PM range; on Wednesdays, I'm there for about 2 hours in the 7-10PM range. On Tuesdays an Thursdays, I'm in the HHP weight room for the other hour in the 5-7 range, and there again from 2-4 on Saturdays. Thursday evenings, I'm working (not working out) in the HHP weight room from 7:30-10PM. Friday morning, I'm in the ERC (Eppley Rec. Center) upper weight room for 5:45-9AM, which I follow up with a shift from 9-11AM in the ERC fitness center (ie. the cardio room).

Obviously our ideas of simple are not the same. By "simple", I mean using using high quality food and seasonings in the most efficient way possible. When I used the word "tuna" what I actually ate was sashimi grade with Japanese wasabi. Oh well, I tried.

Ah, yeah, that's a step above my "simple," but the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

The meal plan may be expensive, but can't you also eat as much as you want? I.E. - Sneak in tupperware and use it to stock your dorm fridge with stuff?

No, that's the killer! Everything is a la carte! An apple costs a dollar! An orange too! For salad (which has a large variety of options) they charge $5 per pound. A quarter chicken costs $7 with a side of veggies, and I can easily eat four quarters. A 3oz burger will cost about $2.50, and I don't even eat the bun. Fortunately, because of my sensitivity to gluten and casein (a side effect of eating Paleo for so long, I think, but I don't care), I'm able to request that they cook something up for me which is grain and dairy free. For example, a few days ago they were making some sort of tuna balls, and I was able to get three unadulterated tuna fillets. However, those meals cost about $4 per 5oz piece of meat.

I tried to get out of the meal plan entirely, but they wouldn't let me. They gave me the meal requesting option, which was nice, but I much would have preferred a refund.

Kris Reeves
09-22-2008, 01:20 PM
No, that's the killer! Everything is a la carte! An apple costs a dollar! An orange too! For salad (which has a large variety of options) they charge $5 per pound. A quarter chicken costs $7 with a side of veggies, and I can easily eat four quarters. A 3oz burger will cost about $2.50, and I don't even eat the bun. Fortunately, because of my sensitivity to gluten and casein (a side effect of eating Paleo for so long, I think, but I don't care), I'm able to request that they cook something up for me which is grain and dairy free. For example, a few days ago they were making some sort of tuna balls, and I was able to get three unadulterated tuna fillets. However, those meals cost about $4 per 5oz piece of meat.

I tried to get out of the meal plan entirely, but they wouldn't let me. They gave me the meal requesting option, which was nice, but I much would have preferred a refund.

That sucks man!


Well, another option I just thought of...you could get the cheapest membership to Costco ($50) and buy in bulk. Go to the one in Beltsville right off of Route 1...assuming you have a car to get back and forth (and if you do...while you're there fill-up 'cause their gas is the cheapest in the area!). Maybe your roomate would go halfsies with you on the membership (since you can put 2 people on one account) and it would only be like $25?

The only flaw I see with Costco though...is you need a fridge bigger than dorm size to store stuff.....plus a good way to cook (um...buy a hibachi grill???)


Hmmm.....I don't know...I need to think some more about this.

Patrick Donnelly
09-23-2008, 10:16 AM
Re: Kris
Once I'm in an apartment, Costco would be awesome. At the moment though, I've got the following problems:
- monthly membership
- 3.5 miles away on a bike
- carrying the stuff back on a bike
- storing the stuff in my dorm
- still have to spend the money from my meal plan

But later on, I could definitely go for Costco stuff.

Grissim Connery
09-24-2008, 05:48 PM
So i am a junior in college, and i do live in an apartment now, and i feel like i went through most of the same bullshit as you.

i feel that my favorite tool that i use is the slow cooker. if you're IFing, it's perfect. i set it on in the morning, and break my fast with an incredibly delicious meal several hours later. i feel like it's hard to not make something taste good in the slow cooker because all the flavors meld so well.

now more importantly, you're in the dorm, so you dont' have to worry about energy costs with the slow cooker. you can just use it as much as you want. the one possible issue is whether or not they will allow you to use the slow cooker in your dorm room. if you're cool with everybody on your floor, you could try to use it in the kitchen. chances are though, you don't wanna risk people messin with your food. i'd say that you should try to become well aquainted with your RA. don't tell him or her that you have the device, but if they find out, you may be able to get away with it.

i steam my sweet potatoes a lot. it takes like no time to make them this way. just get a steam basket and plop it in your pot. this way you don't have to worry about washing out many water soluble vitamins/minerals.

hard boiled eggs are a must. i normally boil 3 dozen at a time. this way you always have an available protein source, even when your class schedule sucks.

Patrick Donnelly
10-01-2008, 10:41 AM
I went and fried up 4lbs of beef heart and 1lb of liver yesterday, mixed together. The spices were simple, just using an onion, some seasoned salt, and pepper. Good stuff. I'm not sure if I'll go for the liver again (funny texture), but the heart is definitely nice. The thing was near perfectly lean too.

Re: Grissim
Slow cookers aren't allowed in the dorm rooms. I could possibly do it in the floor lounge, but I don't know if it's worth the trouble just yet. There's also the kitchen in the basement, but then it'd be open for anyone to walk past and mess with. Is it likely that someone would? No, but I wouldn't want to risk it.

George Mounce
10-01-2008, 02:33 PM
Back on this, we bake sweet potatoes for about 50 min at 390. I've never had them boiled, and that way sounds disgusting to me. Baked is the only way I'd eat them.

Just because something isn't allowed, doesn't mean everyone doesn't have one. Bend the rules when you can, I'm going to guess that in most dorms large quantities of alcohol and pot aren't allowed either but they are rampantly in use on campuses everywhere without anyone doing anything about it.

Patrick Donnelly
10-01-2008, 07:25 PM
Just because something isn't allowed, doesn't mean everyone doesn't have one. Bend the rules when you can, I'm going to guess that in most dorms large quantities of alcohol and pot aren't allowed either but they are rampantly in use on campuses everywhere without anyone doing anything about it.

I'm really not all that desperate for a slow cooker at the moment, so I don't mind.

Philip Stablein
10-01-2008, 08:41 PM
Re: Kris
Once I'm in an apartment, Costco would be awesome. At the moment though, I've got the following problems:
- monthly membership
- 3.5 miles away on a bike
- carrying the stuff back on a bike
- storing the stuff in my dorm
- still have to spend the money from my meal plan

But later on, I could definitely go for Costco stuff.

If you can survive til Feb, we can probably do a weekly Costco run. As a grad student I need to eat cheap too.

Until then, check out what you can use meal plan money on at the convenience store in Cambridge community. Also, the South Campus dining hall has some better food options, sometimes.

Patrick Donnelly
10-02-2008, 07:59 PM
If you can survive til Feb, we can probably do a weekly Costco run. As a grad student I need to eat cheap too.
That'd be cool.

Until then, check out what you can use meal plan money on at the convenience store in Cambridge community. Also, the South Campus dining hall has some better food options, sometimes.
Unfortunately, no. There's the "Resident Points" of which I had some $1150 (down to $850 now), which can only be used at the diners. Every two or three weeks, they'll put a cap on everyone's maximum Resident Points number, and throw away the surplus. The next cap is $750 on October 10th (I've been eating from Shopper's lately). Then there are the "Terp Bucks," which can be used at the convenience stores. I've pretty much bought nothing but Jack Link's beef steaks with that money. Resident Points aren't usable at the convenience stores.

Philip Stablein
10-03-2008, 07:58 AM
That is an unfortunately policy change :(

Patrick Donnelly
10-07-2008, 08:57 PM
Another question about sweet potatoes, but not the ones I'm cooking...

They sell boiled sweet potatoes at one of the restaurants in The Diner, and they were great at first, though the quality seems to be declining now. The yams are boiled and chopped, and served in some sort of dark brown viscous sauce, kind of like a dark, thick, smooth apple sauce. It's very sweet and cinnamon flavored. Previously, the sweet potatoes were just lightly coated in it, but now the stuff is making up half of each serving (by volume) and it's absolutely repulsive.

The workers there can't tell me what it is (due to either just not knowing or influent English). Do you guys have any clue?

Grissim Connery
10-07-2008, 09:53 PM
my dining hall served this sorta thing a bunch. "glazed sweet potatoes" or "glazed acorn squash." i liked it a lot, but i treated it as a cheat food/dessert. it's just some sort of sugary sauce. probably brown sugar or something.

i've got a weakness for sweet potatoes though, so turning these down was rough. that dish reminds me of thanksgiving. i can't wait until that holiday. back when i was vegetarian, i enjoyed it more than the turkey eaters just because i would be entitled to as much of the sweet potato dish as i pleased....the rise of the insulin junkie....

Aimee Anaya Everett
10-08-2008, 01:10 PM
My absolute favorite way to eat sweet potatoes:

thinly slice them and lay them on a baking sheet. Smother them in olive oil. add corse black pepper and a good palm-full of provincial herbs (lavender, chervil, basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, savory, thyme, and parsley). Bake them at 350 for about 20 minutes.
You can use fresh herbs if you are feeling motivated, which I sometimes am, or you can by Herbs of provence with them already dried cut and mixed in one handy little jar (found in your local spice section)

Philip Stablein
10-08-2008, 03:00 PM
Another question about sweet potatoes, but not the ones I'm cooking...

They sell boiled sweet potatoes at one of the restaurants in The Diner, and they were great at first, though the quality seems to be declining now. The yams are boiled and chopped, and served in some sort of dark brown viscous sauce, kind of like a dark, thick, smooth apple sauce. It's very sweet and cinnamon flavored. Previously, the sweet potatoes were just lightly coated in it, but now the stuff is making up half of each serving (by volume) and it's absolutely repulsive.

The workers there can't tell me what it is (due to either just not knowing or influent English). Do you guys have any clue?

Sounds like HFCS, thickening agent, and natural flavor :( Is scraping it off a reasonable option, or asking the workers to give you as little as possible? If you can make a friend with a student who works in the dining hall, you can get plenty of inside info, although I am sure this brown sugar sauce comes out of a Sysco package...

Patrick Donnelly
10-12-2008, 12:25 PM
Well, fortunately, I can cook my own sweet potatoes fairly easily; I would sometimes get them from the campus cafeteria only because they were convenient and decently cheap when bought with a main dish. Now the lack of quality negates those benefits.

Anyone ever tried neck meat? I noticed some turkey and pig necks today, though I have no idea if they're any good. Are the trachea and vertebrae still inside?


Went and got myself a new minifridge over the weekend...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3039/2935598288_6b5cf77388.jpg
It more than doubles my storage capacity. I've got 3lbs of grilled chicken tenders in there, five more pounds of beef hearts in the freezer section, two dozen eggs, some 13lbs of fruit (grapefruit, navel oranges, gala apples; dates and plums outside of the fridge), and a few cooked yams. The best part is that the freezer actually keeps things frozen, as long as they are touching the freezer plate on the bottom. My last freezer didn't work at all. Now all I need is a sheet or two of metal to put between packages of meat that I stack up.

Here's a picture of some of the fruit they sell in the convenience stores at UMD, for a dollar apiece:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3043/2935598286_eb2b410dbb.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/22055795@N04/2935598286/)
Yes, those pears are ridiculously ripe, and yes, those apples are bruised and gray colored; it's not just the camera-phone quality.