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May 17, 2010 06:38 AM

Simple inexpensive 1st apartment (college) recipes sought

DD2 will be getting her 1st apartment with a roommate in the fall. Looking to make a printed notebook for her with simple, inexpensive recipes that she and her roommate can make to encourage them to cook and avoid the typical Kraft dinner, ramen noodle route. These are college kids with not sophisticated palates, no exotic fruits or vegetables. They will have a full kitchen with a small m/w, apartment size fridge and stove/oven (no dishwasher) and buying their own cooking utensils, albeit as inexpensively as possible. Also, DD2 does not eat pork(lamb, chicken, beef, fish/seafood OK). She is very much a beginner cook, so a few ingredients and simple cooking techniques are desired. They will have access to IKEA, Target, Costco and Kroger, but a very limited budget. She will be trying to eat as many meals as possible from her apartment, to save on cost. Ideas, hounds? Thanks!

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  1. Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce (one of them anyway). Put a 28 oz. can of tomatoes in a saucepan, cut an onion in half and put in the pan, add 5 tbs. butter, simmer for 45 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes as it cooks. Makes a great sauce and Karl S uses it as soup at dinner parties. Anything can be added to it. Doesn't come any easier than that and I don't know anyone who's tried it who doesn't wind up eating some of it straight from the pot :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      Love that sauce, altho the 5 tbs. of butter means I rarely make it.

    2. Once a week I make a modified version of the refried black bean recipe from Chow. I double the onions (carmelizing them), use beef stock instead of water, and add small amounts of cumin and chili powder, and add a small amount of sour cream at the end of cooking.

      The beans then can be used for many dishes from breakfast to dinner. We pair them with rice and fried eggs, put it on bagels, in quesadillas, or just rolled in a tortilla with rice. It can easily be thinned to make a dip. It's one of the easier, and healthier, things I keep one hand. It pairs well with eggs, pasta, and most meats and vegetables, but can be enjoyed very simply.

      Also, make sure the girl knows her way around eggs. Frittatas are easy, a good way to use up leftovers, and store well (they can be finished in a four-fifty oven if there are broiler worries, but you do lose that lovely browning on top).

      1. Lentil Soup. It couldn't be more adaptable, is nourishing and delicious, and it accomodates anything leftover. Like Stone Soup from the children's story, whatever you or anyone else brings along to add to the basic soup makes the finished dish all the more delicious. It's cheap, and the ingredients are easy to find in even a small market. I think I lived on this as a student, and still default to it when feeling in need of comfort and ease. The first time I made it at 17 or 18, I cooked it without anything but the lentils and water (really not knowing the first thing about what I was doing) and it became mud-brown sludge after several hours. Sadly I threw it out rather than eat it, it was that wierd looking. So proceed with a small caution - definitely add some stuff (any stuff) and don't overcook it, and it's going to be a beautiful thing.
        Procure 1 lb carrots, one 16 oz. bag of any color lentils, and one bunch of greens (chard, kale, spinach, green cabbage - anything at all). Chop up one onion (celery too, if you have it) and 2-3 cloves of garlic, and cook over moderate heat in olive oil (backstory - you have to train them to keep a good oil, onions, and some garlic in the kitchen). Rinse and add the lentils, add half the carrots chopped up, and cover it all with water in a big pot. For the slightly ambitious and/or frugal, make some stock from simmering all the veggie trimmings plus anything half-dead from the frig, which you know will be in there, in salted water, and use that for the liquid. Herbs, spices, or vegetable embelishments added at this point are a bonus, both smell and taste-wise, and you can take it any direction you like. Italian - bay leaf, oregano, basil plus any tomato product. Indian - curry powder, turmeric, and chopped red pepper. Vegetarian - Bragg's Aminos or tamari, black pepper, a cubed-up potato and some mixed herbs like rosemary, parsley, celery tops, etc., some of which you may have foraged if you live in California. I cannot think of any vegetable you couldn't add to it successfully, and the amount of liquid used will vary the results from a soup to a stew.
        The liquid could also be beer, leftover white wine, or a small can of tomato paste mixed with two or three cups of water, or any admixture thereof. Go about your business for 45 minutes while the soup is on a low simmer, covered, then set up the soup plates and start the rice. This whole thing is going to take about an hour, so 10 minutes or so before eating, add salt to the soup (to taste, but probably 2 tsp or more) and add the chopped greens. Stir them in for a few minutes, and add any leftover chicken (or any protein), and let it cook through about five minutes more. Serve over or have your rice on the side, or eat with bread and butter. Or cheese. In the old hippie days, people were concerned about Complete Proteins. Eating rice or wheat plus the lentils in this combo caused you to ingest a Complete Protein providing all 17 amino acids, so you were saving the planet plus getting full protein out of your newfound vegetarian diet. (Whatever happened to Frances Moore Lappe?). Makes 6 servings at least.
        So, it's great - on very little effort here, you will not starve, will find it packs great for lunches, and tastes even better over the next two or three (cookingless) days.

        1. Peanut Noodle Salad! Deborah Madison has a good recipe for the sauce in "Savory Way." You can mix up a whole jar of it, and then just toss with noodles, vegetables, and tofu/chicken. It's very inexpensive, nutritious and easy. I've never saved it for so long, but the recipe claims that the sauce will last for months. I like to put more vegetables to make it more of a salad than a noodle dish. My favorites include snap peas, red/orange bell peppers, cucumbers, scallions, carrots, and savoy cabbage.

          1. As a current grad student with limited money and time I can say pasta is the way to go if you want plenty of leftovers! Whether its a simple lasagna recipe, baked mac and cheese (much better than living of boxed ones!) and things like baked ziti. Easy to make and can feed plenty of hungry college students.

            Also will be good to have chicken breasts which come individually wrapped. Can be easily seasoned, baked and then covered by your favorite sauce. If she can afford a George Foreman that would also be great for fast sandwiches, chicken and burgers and will be healthier than fast food versions of the same thing.