Campus is Cookin’: Not a Cook? Think Again.

My favorite quote from the movie “Ratatouille” was, “Anyone can cook.” Actually, that’s a lie. My favorite quote was, “If you’re gonna name a food, you should give it a name that sounds delicious. Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like ‘rat’ and ;patootie.’ Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious.” And it is true that anyone can cook. Even stressed, freaked out, and insanely focused Andover students. The beauty of cooking at Commons is that if you decide that you need some more of something, you just add until it’s what you want. Personally I find cooking relaxing. Somewhere between beating the ingredients into submission, pouring them into Tupperware and sticking them into the fridge, you lose the frantic edge that seems to permeate every single one of our days here. Maybe it’s because you can’t rush what happens during the process of cooking. It’ll be ready when it’s ready, and there are no nifty little study habits, brilliant tutors, or dictionaries that’ll make it go any faster. And in a world where no one ever stops to think, smell the roses, or even to say good morning to the guy who holds the crosswalk sign by Bullfinch, that’s a little reassuring. Even if it’s not relaxing for you, never underestimate the power of food. Especially when it’s as fantastic and easy as the following two recipes are. ******** For those of you who aren’t even sure about microwave cooking, neither requires more than 10 seconds of microwaving. Think of them as transition recipes, before you start nuking cake batter for eight straight minutes…But that’s a story for another day. Because I don’t want to tag either of these dishes with a name like “rat-patootie”…..(oops, meant ratatouille), they can be open for creative liberty. It is simply pasta with a blended olive oil dressing, topped off with a peanut butter pie. Now, for the pasta, start by microwaving cherry tomatoes in a tiny amount of olive oil for 10 seconds. Add more or less tomatoes at your own discretion. Then, dump them onto a plate and stir with as much pasta as you want. Lastly, whisk in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper with a fork. Voila! And if you’re in the mood for something richer, stir some tomato sauce with halved cherry tomatoes and enough half-and-half to lighten the sauce. Mix with pasta and top with torn pieces of mozzarella and a spoonful of sprinkled parmesan. Microwave until the cheese is melted. ********* For dessert, this peanut butter pie is transcendent. How did I meet my roommate? I made her pie. She baked me chocolate chip cookies in return. First, mix peanut butter with cream cheese—a little more peanut butter than cream cheese, but the two should be in almost a 1:1 ratio. When the cream cheese is evenly distributed, slowly pour in a little milk, just until the mixture smoothes out. Add sugar to taste, keeping in mind that our next step involves adding whipped cream. Once you’ve mixed together the first four ingredients, mix in the whipped cream until the mixture holds its shape but can still be easily poured. I may or may not eat this straight out of the bowl—I admit nothing. Now we need a graham cracker crust. You can either make one by setting graham cracker squares in rows or by unleashing stress and smashing them until they’re a powder. If you do end up smashing the crackers, mix them with a little butter to hold them in place, and press them into a container. Pour the filling in. At this point, you could drizzle a little chocolate, stir in some chocolate chips, or even lay sliced bananas on top if you want. It’s possibly the most versatile recipe ever to be made in Commons. After you’ve added whatever you want to your pie, stick it in the freezer until firm. Then eat. Enjoy. Say thank you when you pass the crossroads guy. Make it again.