Beyond Ramen

Beyond Ramen

Tips for Successful Dorm Room Cooking
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College is a time of great stress and also a lot of fantastic experiences. Schools open the doorway to things like internships and volunteer opportunities, but they also make sure you always have something to work on. One way to deal with stress that they’ll advertise to students is for you to go by the cafeteria and grab a quick meal on your way to the library or favorite study spot. For some students, this works, but not for very long.

No matter how creative cafeterias get with the food they serve, it isn’t always right for everyone. People who have specialized diets like vegans and vegetarians may not have enough — or any — options to eat. Those with food allergies come across this problem as well. And for many, they just prefer food from elsewhere. It’s why pizza places and Chinese restaurants around schools offer discounts and delivery. However, eating takeout every night is also not a great way to live.

While you’re learning about many other things during your time at school, you’ll find that you need to learn about cooking as well. Dorms aren’t the best place to begin a culinary career, but even if you lack a stove, you can still find ways to cook for yourself. To figure out where to start, check out some tips so you can skip the Ramen and be a successful dorm room chef.

1. Never Forget About Your Roommates

When you live with roommates, you have to be especially careful about how your actions affect them. Things like keeping your room clean and not spending too much time in the bathroom will come up, and this same thoughtfulness applies to cooking.

If you think there’s a good chance you’ll burn a food, make something smelly or generally make a mess in your shared space, give them a heads up. They’ll appreciate knowing what’s going on, and they may even want to join in on the action!

2. Start With the Small Stuff

Your first instinct might be to start looking at food blogs online or pinning recipes on Pinterest, which are both great to do. Just remember that you should start with the small stuff. Instead of aiming to bake a family-sized lasagna, maybe look for simple pasta recipes instead.

The fewer ingredients and steps there are in a recipe, the more likely you’ll be able to cook it or find a way to add it to your dorm room supplies. Plus, you don’t want to make a big recipe and then get discouraged when it doesn’t work out.

3. Buy the Basics

Almost every meal will share a common ingredient, and those ingredients come together as the staples of every kitchen. You should learn what the staple foods are so you know what to go out and buy.

If you plan on cooking, think about spices and vegetable oil. If you want to bake, focus on things like flour and baking powder. These are things every cook should have in their pantry, and they’ll end up lasting a long time. Don’t sweat it if your initial grocery bill is higher than you thought it would be. These items are worth it!

4. Rethink the Basics

Okay, so you’ve bought your staple foods. Now what? It’s time to get creative. You can only make sandwiches for so long before you start to crave literally anything else. Rethink how you can use your foods by getting creative.

For instance, a can of tuna usually only costs about a dollar, and it can be made into many different meals. For five dollars, you could get five entirely different dinner options. Take a second to do an internet search on the ingredients you have on hand to see what you can make.

5. Talk With Your Campus Nutritionist

More and more colleges are now getting on board with the idea of offering students the ability to talk with a nutritionist while they’re enrolled. Check on your school’s website to see if a nutritionist is on staff, and then make yourself an appointment.

Not sure if that’s for you? Certain bodily functions, issues and goals you may have are signs that you should see a nutritionist. Even if you’re healthy and fine eating anything, a nutritionist will help you learn about what foods you should eat and how to cook them.

6. Branch Out When You Can

Eventually, you’re going to get tired of eating the same soups and sandwiches that you can easily put together. When you get there, know how to branch out. You can explore a whole new world of foods by investing in a rice cooker or microwave pasta bowl. These things don’t take up much space, but they present the opportunity to try all new foods. And if you haven’t already, renting or buying a mini fridge will give you more space to store food (and keep it all safe from your roommates!).

You may have been assigned to the tiniest room on campus, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating at the cafeteria every day. There are still plenty of ways to cook in a dorm room that don’t require a stovetop or dishwasher.

The best first step you can take is to talk with a nutritionist so that you get started by eating what’s right for you and not just what’s microwaveable. Reaching for the quick foods often means eating stuff that’s processed and unhealthy, which will lead you down the road of bad health habits.

Then, it’s time to get creative! Buy the basic foods and do some research to learn all the different ways you can combine them to make meals for yourself. Or experiment on your own and see what you can come up with! Foods like tuna and pasta can be stretched into multiple meals if you find the right recipes.

Don’t let your worries stop you from inventing delicious foods for yourself. You’ll be much happier not waiting in the cafeteria line every night, and you’ll have fun while you’re cooking!

Cover Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/amylovesyah/6198142735

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How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."
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I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches New Girl knows about True American. This crazy, non-sense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in Season 1 Episode 20.

The game, as described by New Girl character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game number one: the player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game number two: the player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game number three: the player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."



Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.

Congratulations!

You are now able to impress all of your New Girl-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly and enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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I'm Spilling The Tea: Here's Where You Can Find The Best Chai Lattes In North Carolina

Here's my roundup of the best chai lattes in town, from one tea drinker to another.

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I'll always choose tea over coffee, especially if it's a well-made chai latte. There's something intrinsically comforting about the drink's frothy texture and smooth spice blend, something that reminds me of Starbucks runs on snowy days and relaxing with a warm mug before bed. Chai delivers just enough punch to push you over that mid-afternoon slump, but not so much that you feel sick. I recently got my friends addicted to the drink because once you try it, there's no going back. Here's where you can find the best chai lattes in North Carolina.

1. The Oak House - Elon, NC

http://projects.elonnewsnetwork.com/bestof/food.html

The Oak House's chai lattes are sweet, spiced, and everything nice. The cafe is a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, but is always perfect study space if you need a little pick-me-up.

2. Perennial - Chapel Hill, NC

https://www.yelp.com/biz/perennial-chapel-hill-2

Perennial's chai is on the spicier end but is toned down by the sweetness of this cafe. It's an entirely Instagramable space, so sit back, relax, and watch the likes roll in.

3. The Green Bean - Greensboro, NC

https://downtowngreensboro.org/listings/the-green-bean/

Although The Green Bean looks like a traditional cafe on the outside, the vibrant murals and lively atmosphere inside are anything but. If you like a creamier chai latte, stop here the next time you're in Greensboro.

4. Liberty Coffee House - Asheville, NC

https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60742-d10260607-i206056654-Liberty_House_Coffee_and_Cafe-Asheville_North_Carolina.html

Liberty's chai lattes are as aesthetic as they are delicious. These artisanal teas are sure to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

5. Starbucks - Almost Anywhere, NC

https://nypost.com/2017/07/08/why-anti-starbucks-hipsters-sound-a-lot-like-trump-supporters/

When all else fails, Starbucks is always a safe bet. Pro tip: ask the barista to make your chai latte without water. There's almost no difference in cost, but your drink is made with double the flavor.

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