Monday, September 01, 2014


Yesterday, my eldest child went off to college.   Like others in my position, I'm vacillating between "How can this be happening already?" and "It's so great she's out on her own!".    I am really excited for her, because I loved my college years so much, although I expect our experiences will probably be different.   Jane is an art major at Eastern Michigan University, one of  the oldest colleges in Michigan, beautiful historic buildings.   I was an engineering major at Michigan Tech, and while located in the beautiful upper peninsula, the architecture is sometimes lacking....

Scherzer Hall (photo by Andrew Jameson)
 home to the Art Department at EMU

Smith MEEM Building aka "the Brick Dick"
home of the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at MTU

She has drawing and studio art classes, I had calculus and chemistry.  I can remember strolling through the campus in the fall, enjoying the foliage and listening to Simon and Garfunkel on a Sunday afternoon as a freshman.   I can also remember not getting along too well with my roommates, both farm girls and med tech majors from mid Michigan who loved .38 Special and professed to hate Detroit, and always borrowed my clothes without asking. At the time, MTU was proud of the fact that 3/4 of the freshman class would not survive the rigors of our education and wouldn't make it to graduation.    So I learned that roommates come and go, and many did go....I moved out in late fall to live with another girl down the hall that was also an engineering major and a much nicer person.   I can remember the dorm food - my favorite was something called "Fireman's Casserole"  which was a hot dish that featured ground beef and elbow macaroni in what must have been a cream of mushroom soup sauce.    Being that MTU was in the Upper Peninsula, we also had pasties every Wednesday...which I still love today.

College started my formative years as a cook - I had been cooking dinner for my family since I was in 8th grade when my mom went back to work, but our menu was very limited because my mother was a fussy eater.   It was during my college years that I learned what I really liked to cook and eat.    During my vegetarian era (doesn't every college student have one???) I liked to cook out of 
Jane Brody's Good Food Book or my sorority sisters and I had something called "Supper Club" where we used to take turns cooking for each other, and I would try my hand at recipes I clipped from the Milwaukee Journal or SELF.   Looking back at some of the recipes from those days, my collection included:

  • Jack's Balls - this was a Kentucky Bourbon Ball recipe made with copious amounts of Jack Daniels, our sorority drink.  I might try this recipe from Amada Hesser these days
  • Caramel Brownies made with a box of German Chocolate cake mix and Kraft Caramels.  These days, I'd make the Zingerman's Buenos Aires Brownies recipe.  
  • Cow Plops - i.e. chocolate oatmeal no bake cookies.  I still make these when I need a quick chocolate fix
  • Mrs. Field's Cookies - allegedly the original recipe that passed around on xerox copies.  It's how you shared recipes before the internet. Here's a copy of that chain letter
  • Pickled Eggs - a U.P. bar room treat
  • F&(*^&)ing Dip - our sorority's take on 7 layer dip
I can remember making a New Orleans style dinner for Mardi Gras for a gang of friends.  Another time we pressed apple cider at our house on Quincy Hill.   My friend Ray was a fabulous cook (still is) and we would get together for cooking projects like fondue or herb stuffed lake trout straight from Lake Superior.    I sure hope Jane has as many fond cooking memories as I do from my college days.  Wonder what she will be making....


TeacherPatti said...

Wow! We never made our own food, other than the usual mac'n'cheese out of a box and ramen noodles (which I tried once and never ate again). Our sorority house had a kitchen in the basement, but I think we just used it for making boxed brownies or whatever.

Our idea of exotic eating was a night at the Subway and adjoining TCBY. Oh the days in Adrian! :)

Raymond Muno said...

I remember coming to visit you, after I moved to Minnesota for Graduate school. We pressed cider in the back yard at the Quincy house, up on the hill. I remember one attendee, was she named Kip, that wanted to save the pressed apples for bear bait...
I do remember grilling that fish. Bundled up in green twigs as the basket, grilled over the fire at Fort Leinenkugel, my house up across from the Quincy mine. It was our Lumberjack party where we attempted to cut and split the 8 cords of firewood we needed to heat that winter.