The right cookware makes communal kitchens tasty

Apart from pots and pans, picking a good knife is important to your kitchen. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor) Apart from pots and pans, picking a good knife is important to your kitchen. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor)

If you are going to gain the predicted “freshman 15” and keep it throughout your time at Carnegie Mellon, you might as well do it the right way. Aside from furnishing your dorm or apartment with furniture and personal touches, you also need to prepare your kitchen to provide for your hungry stomach and late-night snack sessions.

For students who have on-campus housing with a communal kitchen, the fundamental basics for eating at the desk are a mini-fridge, a microwave, a bowl, and some utensils. This is the bare minimum for survival. If you are a gastronomic minimalist, go for a shallow bowl instead of a plate — a shallow bowl doubles as a plate and a bowl. Another quick tip: A medium-sized paring knife with a protective sheath is useful for cutting fruits at the desk.

For those who adore dessert, a glass liquid measuring cup with a handle is highly recommended. It comes in especially handy when mixing brownie mix out of the box, because instead of using up different bowls in the process, the mixing and baking can be done just in the measuring cup. Aside from being oven-, microwave-, refrigerator-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe, a measuring cup can also double as a bowl with a handle for heating up oatmeal or ramen noodles in the microwave. The measuring cup tends to remain in the kitchen after moving off campus as well.
In an apartment kitchen, pots and pans become essential in order to completely utilize it. A pot and a pan would do just about anything from an Asian stir-fry to a winter stew. Again, for a gastronomic minimalist, go for a pot instead of a pan. You can do a decent saute in a pot but you definitely cannot cook up chicken soup in a pan. For a more specialized job, a flat bottom cast iron skillet is amazing for steak, pancakes, and also baking cornbread. Cast iron cookware can hold more heat and does not change the temperature as fast as a pan.

Aside from basic pots and pans, I am a firm believer in a good knife. If you enjoy cooking, a knife allows you to manipulate vegetables, meat, and fruits to a greater level. Invest in only one good, six-to-eight-inch santoku or chef’s knife. It allows you to cut, slice, chop, and carve comfortably.

For the avid baker, an electric mixer is the gateway to heaven. KitchenAid provides reputable mixers, including both stand and handheld mixers. The key point to think about when buying a handheld electric mixer is its weight. For some recipes, you might need to hold the mixer for up to 10 minutes. Find something that fits your price point and your bodily strength.

Most of the time, we go to stores like Macy’s and Target to get our dorm or apartment furnished. But we often forget about places like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx, where you can get the same or even better quality cookware, along with other dorm furnishings, for lower prices.