At some point during the school year--especially the first semester--everyone hungers for a taste of home. Whether it be your mama's chocolate chip cookies, or grandma's famous lasagna, certain foods go a long way when it comes to boosting moral. At Washington and Lee University there are opportunities to use a kitchen as freshman even though we live in dorms. Both Graham-Lees and Gaines have communal kitchens that we can use to replicate our favorite, homey foods.

1. Prepare 

Mary Alice Russell

Make sure you have your supplies ready before you turn the oven on. You need to have mitts to get things out of the oven safely. And if you're baking cookies, you also need to have a baking sheet and parchment paper. DO NOT put wax paper in the oven, it will melt! There are some pans in the kitchen, but you may need to pick up some basic supplies before you start. 

2. Ingredients  

Yasmine McCroden

Make sure to use only what you bring; this means buying your own flour, milk, or anything else you feel like you need to make the homiest recipe. If someone else bought an ingredient that means they want to use it. Just think how irritating it would be if you came to bake cookies and all your stuff had been used.  Unlike utensils and kitchenware, such as pots and pans, there are no communal ingredients that everyone can share.  

3. Safety

Ellie Yamanaka

Do not put things in the microwave or oven unless it says "microwave safe." It usually says that at the bottom of the dish. If you put something in the microwave that is not microwaveable you could burn yourself or even cause a fire. At the very least, the fire alarm could go off again and drive your entire dorm mad. 

4) Clean up 

cake, beer
Angela Pizzimenti

Make sure to use soap when you wash things. There is a soap dispenser in the kitchen, but dish soap is better for the pots and pans. This really helps get all of the food residue off, which is really important! You do not want your food to taste like something that you made last week, or that somebody else made a month ago. Be sure to wipe down the counter tops, especially if you have used eggs or any type of raw meat. This is so, so important because you do not want others to get salmonella. 

5. Be mindful of others  

Baking, Friends, hanging out, two girls, girls laughing
Luna Zhang

If you are cooking for other people or there are other people in the kitchen with you, make sure that you are not cooking with something they might be allergic to. A lot of ingredients have traces of things that can get others very sick. Always be sure to ask, you do not want to have to deal with a medical emergency. 

6. Share the space

cook, Kitchen, stirfry, stove, Fire, Restaurant, Cooking, skillet
Alex Frank

Remember this is a communal kitchen that other people also want to use. Be flexible, and make sure to give others the space that they need. If you can only cook at a certain time, try leaving a note on the door that kindly says you plan to use the communal kitchen then. 

7. Put that thing back where it came from  

dirty dishes, dirty bowl, sink
Jocelyn Hsu

After you use something, make sure to put the ingredients and cookware you used back into the cabinets. When you put things back in their proper place--and others respectfully do the same--you'll know where they are the next time you want to use them. If you're using something like a baking sheet that's not yours, always make sure that it goes back to the kitchen, cleaned, so others can make their mama's chocolate chip cookies too.