Free Food: It Lures Us Everywhere


11/13

“Come to this event! FREE FOOD!”

This is a typical sign seen around all college campuses. Student organizations are always luring people into events with the promise of free food. What is it about food that brings flocks of people to events that they never would have visited otherwise?

I surveyed a large number of students from a variety of campuses around the U.S. regarding the important coalition between student organizations and food.

Food has always been a binding experience, but in college it becomes more than just that: “Everyone has to eat, but not everyone grows up eating the same things. I think in that way eating really plays into the idea of what college is promoted as being; a learning experience where you are expected to grow as a person. What better way to broaden yourself than with food?” said Gus Merwin, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Many students that I talked to echoed this sentiment. Food has the power to bring unique people together in a setting where they are comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Great food has the power to even transcend a good conversation; it has the power to create lasting impressions.  Everyone needs to eat; why not eat together around delicious food?

Along with good conversation, food also holds the ability to further your career. Student organizations on campuses often hold events that provide possibilities of career building, and there’s no greater way to start networking with someone than talking about food. Students that I talked to often talked about how they’ve discovered many networking opportunities whenever an event holds food. Food is the perfect conversation starter when trying to start a beneficial acquaintanceship in your field.

Through my surveys and interviews, I compiled data on the importance and power of food when it’s paired with student organizations:

See the data and the article published in College & Cook Magazine

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Buttered, Fried, and On a Stick: Regional Fair Food


8/22/13

In the summertime, Milwaukee can  be expected to smell like popcorn, funnel cakes, and sweet corn. It is the land of festivals: from Festa Italia! to Bastille Days, every culture is celebrated through dance, music and most importantly food.

I went to a number of these festivals, but the most popular by far is the Wisconsin State Fair.

If you’re expecting to have fresh and organic food at a fair, don’t bother. It doesn’t exist. Even at Greek Fest, the most popular food item was a deep fried pastry–Not exactly the most authentic Greek food. But we all need our fix of fried food once in a while; this is where to get it.

State fairs may not be the place to go for healthy food, but it’s certainly the place to go to eat interesting concoctions of fried things on a stick.  The newcomers every year always make people talk. This year at the Wisconsin State Fair, some of the interesting creations included a Thanksgiving Waffle, fried gelato on a stick, and a Krispy Kreme Burger with Spicy Pig Candy. Now that’s kicking it up a notch!

But, every state fair has a famous staple food that everyone has to get.  For 89 years in Wisconsin, it’s the Cream Puff: a delectable fluffy puff pastry with soft cream in the middle. This sought after item even has its own drive-thru window.

The one thing that all of these festivals and fairs had in common was the fact that beer was everywhere: cheap beer sold for a small fortune.

Festivals and fairs are all about binging on food that isn’t good for you, but it’s delicious all the same. And in college, you have those days where you need to eat food that’s exactly that. State fairs may only last a week or two, but here’s a way to bring a little bit of the fair into your college apartment.

Wisconsin Cream Puff

Puff Pastry:

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

4 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp. Milk

1 Large Egg Yolk

Cream Filling:

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir until a ball forms. Remove from the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  2. Drop ¼ cupfuls of the puffs onto baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape.
  3. As they cool, beat the Heavy Whipping Cream with until it begins to thicken. Add sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Published in College & Cook Magazine.

BIO-San Francisco


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It was a sunny day in San Francisco. I had about a half an hour for lunch before I had to get back to a journalism conference and I was desperately searching for anything that wasn’t fried. Fate must have been on my side that day because I spotted the tiny storefront of BIO, a small, organic deli. When I say small, I mean small: no more than four people could fit inside. Inside greeted me with smells of fresh herbs and vegetables and the kitchen behind the deli was overflowing with perfectly cut strawberries and avocados. I enjoyed a prosciutto/arugula sandwich there which is still one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.

Taking Off


5/28/13

Many students attend college out-of-state so they have to fly home every break. That’s a lot of time to be spending at airports!  Those days spent at the airport can be long and not to mention tricky when it comes to food.

When you go to the airport, you run into one of two problems:

One, you don’t have any food to eat for hours.

Two,  because you know that this is a possibility, you eat at every given opportunity.

Neither option is healthy by any means, so I sent myself on a mission: eat “healthy” and good airport food. Can it even be done or are vacuum sealed sandwiches and McDonalds our only options?

The good news is that it is possible and it can even be an enjoyable culinary experience. Who knew?

On the particular day that I went on my mission to find good airport grub, I flew from Milwaukee to Dallas to San Francisco. In Milwaukee, I had lunch at one of the very few options; however, this option was delightful Alterra Coffee which is based out of Milwaukee. There’s a definite Wisconsin flavor in the menu. For example, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, pepper jack cheese and chipotle sauce on homemade sourdough bread. It was a delightful combination. The coffee there is also strong and black, perfect for any day, but especially travel days.

In fact, everywhere I went there was a definite regional flavor to the airport which I found really surprising. Dallas was filled with barbeque and meat. San Francisco was filled with organic options and sushi. It’s fun to think that you might be able to have a regional culinary experience if you’re just stuck in the airport. It’s time to stop dreading the long and starving days at the airport and start enjoying the possibilities of uncovering culinary gold.

Here are some of my tips to good travel eating:

1. Stay hydrated. But there’s no need to buy water at the airport. It’s impossible to get cheap water there, so bring your own water bottle! There’s plenty of free water in the airport compliments of the water fountains. Take full advantage of the situation.

2. Bring energy bars. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have time to eat at the airport, especially when you have connecting flights. Sometimes only a minute separates you from one plane to the next. If you don’t have time to eat at the airport, it might be hours before you’re near food again (food that isn’t sketchy and overpriced). Energy bars are vital in these situations. They don’t taste bad, they won’t break in your luggage, and they’re filling.

3. Order the right drink. You may not get free food on the plane, but you do still get a complimentary beverage, so choose wisely. My pick? Ginger ale. If you’re weary about flying, alcohol is not the way to go.  Sure, it might make you a little more excited about flying, but it’s not going to help your motion sickness/weariness at all. Ginger naturally soothes an upset stomach. Choose that over alcohol.

4. Put that prepackaged sandwich down! Are you really going to pay $7 for a squished sandwich with questionable ingredients? It may seem like a “healthy” option, but I will guarantee you that it’s just drenched in mayonnaise to hide any strange flavors that might exist in it. It’s healthier and about the same price to get a fresh sandwich at an airport deli.

5. TSA guidelines aren’t scary. Some people are probably weary of packing food due to TSA guidelines. There are just a few rules, including: All food must be wrapped or in a container (excluding fruits); if you’re traveling with foodie gifts, it’s advised to keep them in your checked luggage; Don’t bring anything too weird like a cake or pizza, that’s just hard to travel with.

Article Here in College & Cook Magazine.

Pointerest: Food Memories


5/9/13

Food’s great power is that it brings people together. Think about it, every important moment of life involves food in some way. Food has the power to spark good conversations, ideas and relationships. And that has been true for my life at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Some of my greatest memories in Point are food memories. Here are just a few.

1. Belt’s-What’s a better way to spend a sunny afternoon or warm night than taking a walk to Belt’s? You totally burn off all those calories in a ten-minute walk, right?

2. Zest-I have had some of the best conversations about hopes and dreams over lattes and turnovers at this coffee shop.

3. Stevens Point Farmer’s Market-I’m not a huge fan of vegetables, but waking up on Saturday mornings in the fall to buy them from local farmers almost makes me want to like them.

4. Downtown Square-Okay, so maybe more beverages were consumed here than food, but it still always proved to be a good time.

5. Kitchen Parties-If you are ever bored, I would highly suggest inviting some friends over and trying to make something crazy only using food that is already in your pantry. To me, nothing is more fun than experimenting with food. Some of the best flavors and creations happen there.

6. GreeceThere is nothing better than traveling to Greece, eating food, drinking wine, writing about it and getting college credit for it. This was easily the greatest food experience (and just general experience) of my life.

In short, never underestimate the power of food. Food can bring anyone together, and isn’t that the whole point of life? If you are ever in doubt of what to do or how to make your life a little more exciting, add food into the mix, and it will soon become an exciting and unforgettable experience.

 http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Pointerest-Food-Memories.aspx