Let me start out by saying that I don’t cook. It’s not that I think I’m above cooking, but I just think I’m bad at it. When I had to make myself meals at home, I would cycle through variations of two recipes: English muffin breakfast sandwiches or rice with any acceptable leftovers in the fridge. I think I’m more of a convenience person, which is why I dislike spending hours cooking things I can eat in ten minutes.
So, in a kind of impulse decision, I volunteered to make study break snacks for my house.
Here are some things you should consider when cooking for a lot of people:
1. Keep everyone’s expectations very low. Especially your own. That way, if you mess up, your fall from grace won’t hurt that much.
2. Who are you trying to impress?
Let’s be honest. You’re only cooking for a ton of people to show off how great you are. I know I was. After all, there’s no other reason you would willingly make yourself stressed and sweaty because of food.
I was cooking for about fifty hungry and sleep-deprived college students (who are near impossible to impress), which brings me to my next point.
3. You need to cook something that is universally enjoyed as a guilty pleasure. And that something will always be breakfast food.
For my lovely housemates, I decided to cook a huge batch of pancakes with fruit. After finding a simple from-scratch pancake recipe online, I found myself in a kitchen at 7 PM on a Sunday, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of items in front of me. Everything that happened after that was kind of a stress-induced blur, but here are some tips on serving and impressing a large amount of people.
I know that people always say to clean up as you go, but just know that when you are cooking an obscene number of pancakes that will be near impossible. I was a flour-y, batter-y mess in about ten minutes.
I think adrenaline was the only thing fueling me through the entire ordeal. I found that the pure stress of having to do a million things at once — measuring, pouring, mixing, cleaning, flipping — turns me into a high-strung superhuman. People who tell you they cook for leisure are lying. Cooking is equivalent to high intensity manual labor, perhaps even along the lines of Crossfit.
The first batch is always bad.
I don’t know why this happens, but it’s just a truth of life. My first batch of pancakes tasted like floury Frisbees. I gave one to my friend to try and saw the panic in her eyes while she scrambled to find something positive to say.
But don’t worry. Just keep on making more. Somewhere in between the first and second batch, the magic will happen. And you’ll prove the haters wrong.
Be generous. It’s always better to make way too much than to leave people unsatisfied. I put a ridiculous amount of fruit in each pancake, which made each one about the size of a CD. This may depend on who you’re serving, but my first full tray of pancakes disappeared almost immediately. It was pretty satisfying. I felt like a proud parent watching my inordinately large family eating Thanksgiving Dinner.
Overall, cooking study break snacks for your house will be intense, but it will be rewarding. Just remember that you’re doing it with love, and never forget to keep your cool, too.