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Narwhal

Open Thread: What's Your Most Memorable College Dining Experience?

I went to school at Virginia Tech, which has really stupendous food (Number 4 on Princeton Review's list for 2014). They did a lot of special events in the all-you-can-eats and they've built a newer dining hall since I graduated, but in one of the pay as you goes (we had 'dining dollars' not swipes) they had some of the best food at this grill. It was made fresh, which was lovely. One was a prime rib sandwich, which was only served at lunch and in the afternoon (before dinner) and something uncreatively named 'crispy chicken' which was mashed potatoes, a freshly grilled chicken breast, gravy and fried onion strings. They always had two veggies of the day, and when neither seemed appealing, there was always tomatoes broiled with a bit of cheese on top.

We also had another dining hall that had a station of all local food, which was always incredible, as Virginia Tech has lots of farmland around it.

Bake the Book: Say It With Cake!

I used to make this almond cake with a gorgeous chocolate sour cream icing. It was beautiful.

Cereal Eats: What's the Best Milk for Cereal?

To start, I'm not much of a milk drinker. It goes in cereal and with every baked, pastry sort of dessert. Otherwise, it's only for cooking. And I drink whole. I think it makes EVERYTHING taste better, especially cereal. And since cereal and dessert-y baked goods are treat for me, my roommate and I are barely going through a half gallon in a week. Totally reasonable.

Poll: Green Peppers on Pizza, Way or No Way?

I agree with the meh comment. I'd rather have jalapeños on particular pies, but otherwise, leave my pizza alone.

There are a million other fruits and vegetables I'd rather eat. Why eat a green bell pepper?

Reality Check: Burger King's BK Chef's Choice Burgers

The actual location, and even who is on that day, is crazy important, but that's true almost anywhere, even somewhere the seems as machine-like as a Burger King.

I find the same is true with Starbucks, Chipotle, and on up the restaurant line, to good, well known local restaurants. Some days, the creme brulee at the Empress is better than others. But maybe a trainee torched my sugar, or the kitchen just had a perfect order returned.

In short, everyone has bad days, and sometimes, some places just suck more than identical places in a different spot, staffed by different people.

Challenge: Post Your Best Wing Recipe.

Take frozen wings and put them in the oven at roughly 400 (you want lots of sizzly popping, but I try to keep the smoke to a minimum) for like, an hour. Take 'em out and toss them in melted butter mixed with Franks.

The best part about this is I can make the right number for just me, or I can make a big old batch for a party. I've always eaten wings this way.

Raw garlic - who's in?

I can't just pop a clove of un-pickled raw garlic in my mouth and chew, but chopped up in bits, I use it in all sorts of things. Not to say that roasted isn't also delicious.

New Cheerios Flavors: Multi Grain Peanut Butter and Dulce de Leche

Team Cheerios. They don't make them anymore, so I mostly make due with multi-grain and the occasional box of Honey Nut.

But Team Cheerios, man... So fly.

Soda: Any Tab Fans Out There?

The first time I ever had a Coke Zero was when my college dorm vending machine spat one out instead of my usually Cherry Coke Zero. The cherry had effectively kept me from ever tasting the Coke Zero itself.

I tried a sip and then handed it to my roommate, who got a nostalgic look on her face after taking a swig. "It's TAB. It tastes like TAB."

I'd never had TAB, but her father had adored the stuff. We found one in some backcountry grocery/gas station and purchased it. While there was no side by side testing done, it tasted pretty much like Coke Zero.

So, it's hard to find, and tastes like Coke Zero, in our humble opinions (her TAB loving father agrees). In short, unless you enjoy being ironic or the thrill of the hunt, there's not much of an appeal.

Thanksgiving: What's Your Stuffing Approach?

We start with the Pepperidge Farm bags. They're inoffensive, dry, and easy. We then add appropriately sized whomp biscuit (The kind you whomp on the counter to open?) and cornbread chunks. We saute up some onions and celery in butter and toss that in. Then chicken stock, and the right seasonings. I know there's poultry seasoning, pepper, and sage. And then maybe six or seven sliced hard boiled eggs. And we cook it outside the bird, thank you very much. And this is my momma's recipe, but she got it from my father's mother, and who knows where it appeared from there.

On the egg discussion, I've no idea where it originated, but we also do hard boiled, sliced eggs in our gravy.

New Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks

I usually ask for one pump less of whatever they're giving me. Luckily I work in a Starbuck-affiliated-but-not-a-Starbucks coffee shop, and we use the same stuff, so I know numbering and everything. You can just ask your barista, too, to make it less sweet, and I've never been in a Starbucks where they wouldn't oblige.

As another point, did this come out last year as a hot chocolate at Starbucks? I seem to remembering ordering one at the store, but reminding them I wanted mocha, not hot chocolate. But that could just be me.

We make our own version at the shop, but can't get any salt to put on top. They won't let us order what they use. So we gamed the system, and made something that tastes super similar.

Bread Baking: Yogurt and Honey Bread

How do you suppose this would do in a bread machine?

Eating at Someone Else's House

Eh. Sometimes I feel awkward in people's kitchens because they feel awkward in them, but rarely have I found a kitchen too disgusting. People eat dirt and such things all the time. If you're an open-mouthed sleeper, think of all the crazy stuff that you've consumed. Anyway, oversanitizing is only going to make a new generation who isn't able to fend off any germs.

I do try to wipe down my counter, and clean things after use. I don't use my hands for cooking things after the dog has licked them. I always do a good cleaning after handling raw meat, but otherwise it's only an after use sort of event. As long as someone's kitchen is visibly clean, and they don't seem sick, I'm good to go.

Drink the Book Giveaway: 'Homemade Soda'

I'm all about some kind of pomegranate soda.

AHT Weekend Book Giveaway: 'Hamburger America' by George Motz

I'm with Texas and Oklahoma, along with the general surrounding area.

It's Harder Than it Looks

I am inept at frying anything. Anything. I'm also not very good at judging the doneness of meat without cutting it open. I don't have a thermometer (my own fault, I know) but I'm getting better.

Also, not confusing the baking powder and soda. I need to pull down the container and hold it next to the recipe to be sure I'm not going to mess up.

I can make a pretty good biscuit and a swingin' yeast bread. I can cook nearly any kind of veggie at least one way and I am FLY at getting everything on the table at the same time. I started doing it when I was ten or so to help my mom, and got the hang of it quickly.

What's your opinion on Alton Brown?

I like him. Good for Alton for losing the weight. I didn't notice any preachyness, but I don't spend much time looking after him, unless it's on the show itself. To be honest it's not my business. I love watching Good Eats and rely on his recipes more than any other celebrity chef. He's fun to watch and explains scientific foodie knowledge in a way where I (the science inept wonder of the world) sort of understand them.

Is he a food god? Nah. Is he a pretty fly cook? Aw yiss.

Yea or Nay? Fruit and/or Nuts in your Chicken Salad?

Depends on my mood. I'm not picky either way, if that's the main question.

My mum makes a nice chicken salad with toasted walnuts and dried I think it's cranberries, but it could be cherries.

Why, yes, my memory is splendid this morning, thanks for asking.

Cold Stone Creamery

Coldstone is strange to me. I prefer their highly similar competitor Maggie Moos. Sometimes smoothies are all right, and I see they have them, along with blended coffee drinks.

In a worse case, sample all of their 'normal' flavors and pick the best. Get the biggest thing you can, to go, and be done with it. Shove it in the freezer for when you want ice cream.

Complaint Trader Joe's brand frozen foods & customer relations

My TJ's folks are super nice. They'll tell me when they're getting new shipments of stuff I like, let me know when things have been discontinued, so on, so forth. But I don't buy their frozen meals. I tend to assume they're going to be not good. But I don't really eat any frozen food, not just TJ's.

But I like a lot of things there. The cookies, veggies and fruit, and they've just started carrying really nice jam. Good cherry jam is hard to find.

Alkohost, did you ever consider she really does like the taste? People disagree on how things taste. I hate peppers and my little sister loves them. She also mixes ranch dressing and barbecue sauce to dip her hot links in. I don't judge. I doubt a store interested in making a profit would choose to market something that tastes just like 'fermented vomit' to every person in the world.

Reviving/Reheating Leftovers - There Must Be Hope!

I tend to delicately reheat things in the oven (I don't have a microwave. I don't have the room) or on stove top, depending on what it is. And I've come to terms with the fact that things don't always come out the same way they went into the fridge.

Anyway, for the brussels, I'd just reheat them in the oven on low and then give them a high spot of heat to crisp up. I don't mind reheated chicken. I usually lazy steam it (it goes in a lidded pan with a little chicken broth at the bottom and into the oven). But sometimes you just need to come to terms with the fact that it won't taste the same and make a pot pie or eat a cold slice of pizza.

Drink the Book: 'Jelly Shot Test Kitchen'

I've made gin and lemon jello shots before. They were all right. It was just before a party, and I just tried one, to make sure they didn't taste like rubbing alcohol before shipping the lot off to the party.

But obviously, I need this book to impress my friends who have only enjoyed mediocre jelly shots.

Care to introduce yourself?

Oh, cheers. I'm 22, live in a lovely city in Virginia where I attend law school, and like to eat. As a matter of fact, I've just eaten. I'm originally from Texas, and my family loves to cook and eat. I've found myself a beau, from Virginia, who also likes to cook and eat. He now lives in Minnesota (medical school!) but is often on my mind. My passions are family, friends, food, and justice.

Do You Have Any 'Once In A Wifetime' Recipes?

Beau and I don't really have any outright food quirks or allergies (I'm allergic to soy, but we're both omnivores anyway, so it's a hit, but not a great loss). We also like eating crazy or bad for you stuff together. It's just a treat, not a regular occurrence. He may get a great big butter cake frosted with chocolate sour cream frosting on his birthday. We might make a hamburger fatty melt and split it.

Basically we're both pretty open minded, and nothing is revolting. Makes life easy and fun.

Haven't Had It, But Want To Try It!

There are lots of foods I want to try. But someone said ostrich further up. One of my bucket list items is to shoot and later eat an ostrich. It needs to be the same ostrich. And I need to go to New Zealand to do it, as apparently you can't kill ostriches in Australia. So I'm thinking Beau and I will skip out there at some point and find a farm that will let me do this.

Dinner Party with a Vegetarian

So! I'm posting here to pick your brains. After finals, I'd like to have my two best girlfriends and their significant others over for dinner. One couple is vegetarian, and the other does enjoy their meat, though I couldn't imagine them being overly picky about a vegetarian meal.

So, it'll be five people. I have a few strange requirements, as I am a graduate student.

1) We'll probably be eating on the floor/couch. There will be tables available (cheap coffee tables, for setting plates, sides, dips, whatever) for setting things on, but my dining table only has two seats.
2) I'd prefer it be inexpensive. Just generally.
3) I'd rather not be fixing in my small kitchen as my guests either loom, or sit in the living room without me (no pancakes, for example)
4) I don't have a microwave. If I make it in advance, it'll need to reheat on the stove or in the oven.

SO SE. What do you have for me?

Vegan Nachos?

I am having a couple of normally-vegetarian friends over for dinner soon. I say normally-vegetarian because they're currently vegan for Russian Orthodox Lent.

I originally suggested nachos, before I knew about their vegan status, and they're excited about Mexican-y chips, dip, and drinks.

I have vegan bean dip, chips, and salsa. They said they were cool with a lack of faux cheese on their chips, and I'm going to get some iceberg lettuce, the tiny tomatoes that are starting to taste like real tomatoes, and black olives.

So if you were vegan, what else would you want with your nachos?

Please remember they consented to this meal and are excited about it. We could change the meal plan if we wanted to, but we're not.

Freezer Meals for a single college student.

That title is slightly misleading, but relatively accurate. My Beau and I are graduate students in different states, and I'm going to visit him for spring break. While I'm there, I'd like to freeze up a bunch of things (biscuits, cookies, and meatloaf, for sure) to leave for him to nosh on. He lives by himself.

That being said, Beau is not picky, he has a microwave and an oven for reheating purposes, and I assume he is relatively well stocked in the minor appliance realm. (I know he has a mixer.)

I'm generally looking for meals I can cook, jab into individual portions, flash freeze, and freeze in freezer bags, so I'm not sucking up all of his reusable containers.

As mentioned above, I know I'll make biscuits, cookies, and meatloaf (because he's a 21-year-old, and he likes meatloaf sandwiches). He lives up north, so it'll be winter for some while longer.

What would you make in this scenario? I didn't do much freezing while I was in undergrad and living with my parents, so any advice will help.

Thanks so much!

Steel cut oats in the slow cooker?

So I have the Alton Brown recipe, and a lovely recipe in one of my slow cooker cookbooks. (4:1 water:oats, if you're curious).

But the question for me is can I make half of a recipe in my small slowcooker? A quarter?

You see, I'm aware that I can reheat the oatmeal in the microwave, but therein lies the problem. I don't own a microwave. I only eat one serving of oatmeal in a morning. The recipe makes four servings.

My slowcooker does have a low setting, but I've been doing some reading. While people have cut down the recipe or made it in a slowcooker, they haven't done both (that I've found).

I'm worried about it burning, mostly. If I absolutely need to, I will wait until the weekend to experiment. I'll start it first thing in the morning and eat it for dinner. But if the consensus is the oatmeal will be all right, I will trust you, Serious Eaters.

Comments and assistance?

I need tailgate foods that don't need to be kept in a 'fridge.

I need some assistance in coming up with some sort of tailgate food for a football game tomorrow.

The problem is I need to make something that will be fine without refrigeration for a number of hours. It will be part of the post-game tailgate, and I don't have time to walk home to my apartment and return to the tailgate.

I was thinking about making some bread of some sort, but otherwise, I'm up a creek. Anything you could suggest would be fine, but I'd be especially interested in side dishes.

Thanks again!

Fancy Coffee for my beau.

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up in short order, and he is quite fond of nice coffees. I decided to make him up a nice gift basket of coffees and coffee related things.

He has a coffeemaker, and will be investing in a better quality grinder if I get him this gift.

But what I'm really looking for from all of you is coffee suggestions.

My family and I live on Peet's and don't mind swinging by Starbucks for a caffe americano, but I'm looking for some neater beans and local roasters to buy from for my boyfriend's gift.

Any suggestions?

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