Don’t buy into the rumor that I cook extravagant meals for myself at home. Good grief, I would rather sleep an extra two hours than get up and prepare homemade French toast or something. I eat like every other college kid out there. Honestly, I am a big fan of comfort food, brings back some great memories.
There is nothing like baked potatoes, fresh out of the oven. That is, unless your father forgets to poke holes in them. I do believe that was my first encounter with the sound of gunshots. When I am here at school (and feeling too cheap to turn the heat up), I like to whip up a batch of some easy herb-baked potatoes. And yes, herbs are your friends.
Chop some unpeeled Russet potatoes (the brown kind) into quarter-sized chunks. Drizzle with melted butter or oil and sprinkle on a few teaspoons of dried rosemary and fresh minced parsley. Add salt and pepper, mix and put in any sort of pan you have around the kitchen. Bake the potatoes in a 350-degree oven until you can easily stab them with a fork. Depending on how big the chunks are, this could be around 20 minutes. Presto! Totally simple.
I have a huge extended family that has spread to all areas of the country. Family reunions are part comedy skit, part madhouse and part asthma attack. The one thing we all do well together is eat. Some of my best summer memories include swinging on a porch swing with my cousins with a plate of sloppy joes on my lap. Recreating a classic favorite in a tiny, college kitchen is easier than you might think.
Cook some ground beef or turkey with a handful of chopped onions in a pan. Leaving the grease in the pan afterward is definitely your call, but not recommended. To the pan add a few tablespoons of barbeque sauce, a little mustard, some ketchup and some pepper. Taste as you go to see what you like. Mix and warm up in the pan before topping some buns. This sloppy joe mixture actually freezes well in a sealed container for a while. Save some to nuke in the microwave after a long Monday. I’ll never forget my first cooking class in seventh grade. The first recipe we were to make was called ‘monkey bread.’
After hearing that, I decided my teacher was really disturbed. Turns out, ‘monkey bread’ is basically mini cinnamon buns. I still maintain that there was something strange about that woman. I definitely grab this recipe when I’m looking for a dessert or breakfast to impress a guest sleeping over.
Melt a stick of butter and a half cup of corn syrup (light or regular) in the microwave. Dissolve a half cup of brown sugar into the mixture and stir in a handful of chopped pecans. Spray some Pam onto a big baking dish and pour the sugary mess onto the bottom. Take two tubes of refrigerated biscuits and cut each one in half. Take the raw dough and roll the pieces in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, then stack in the pan. Bake these guys around 25 minutes in a 375-degree oven until they are golden brown. Flip them upside down when finished and let the sweet goo ooze over the edges. Positively impossible to resist.
Hope these few ideas help spruce up your boring meals and bring back memories of those oh-so-golden years …
Comfort food at its best in Philly!
Brianna Barry can be reached at <a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org@temple.edu.