One of my favorite parts of living in the University of Delaware Courtyard apartments is that I get to live on campus with my own personal kitchen. I didn’t know how good my roommate and I had it until disaster struck at the end of the first week of class. I came home after a long week on a Friday, and my entire room was flooded. A pipe had burst right above my closet. Long story short, we were moved to temporary housing in Independence Hall, and our entire side of the apartment complex had to be renovated. In the meantime, since we no longer had a kitchen, we were given points to eat at dining locations on campus. It was nice to experience Pencader and the P.O.D. As a senior who also completed part of my degree through the pandemic, I never had the chance to try Pencader before. It was fun to order pizzas and burgers from the grill, and they had great donuts first thing in the morning. But honestly, nothing could replace cooking for myself. Once our apartment was renovated, I swore to never take my kitchen for granted ever again. The whole experience has made me reflect on why I enjoy cooking for myself, and also how it blends (pun intended) with my life as a senior Honors student.

Looking back, the first proper meal I made when I got back into my apartment was not the most glamorous one. I made some grilled cheese. And I must specify that this was not one of those Pinterest-board, expensive-cheese, buttered-skillet kind of grilled cheeses. It was more of a five-minute, fridge-raid, I-need-food-now grilled cheese. My sister bought me a tiny, bright red panini press one Christmas. I plugged it in and waited for a faint click as the red light on top turned off, which indicated that it was done preheating. I quickly stuffed in two slices of bread and some shredded cheddar from the recesses of the fridge and pressed it closed. Once it was ready, I lifted the lid and fished out my piping hot grilled cheese. A fun detail on this little panini press is the triangular shaping on the inside, which transforms a plain rectangular sandwich into two triangles! I have never been happier to see a grilled cheese sandwich in my life. It was simple and it hit the spot, but more importantly, it represented the return to my kitchen. Since then, I have enjoyed concocting other dishes slightly more worthy of a Pinterest board.

To those that choose not to cook often, I understand that the effort, time and grocery expense can make it seem like cooking at home is not worth it. And sometimes, it feels like that for me as well. But I realized that cooking can serve another purpose other than simple nourishment: relaxation. There is something meditative about all of the chopping, slicing, stirring and bubbling when cooking. It requires me to focus on the recipe right in front of me rather than on all of my school work. Cooking can get overwhelming, but some things I do to make things easier are prepping my ingredients beforehand, such as keeping pre-chopped veggies in the fridge, and choosing intentionally easy recipes that require minimal dishes to clean up. No matter how busy my schedule is, I know that I can pull something together in my kitchen, even if that “something” is a five-minute grilled cheese.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email