I woke up the other day craving pancakes. Unfortunately, the freshman dorms don't provide anything in the kitchen department other than a mini fridge and microwave. Sure, we had a waffle iron, but I was just craving the good, old-fashioned skillet pancakes that I used to make when I still had a kitchen *sigh.* 

I decided to google my options. I found tons of mug cakes and things of that variety but not the round, beautiful pancakes that I was envisioning

sweet, pancake, berry, syrup, blueberry, blackberry
Malia Ito

That's when I looked up and noticed my roommate's clothes iron. I remembered hearing stories of poor, resourceful college students that used clothes irons to cook things in their dorm room, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out clothes iron cooking is actually kind of popular and there are quite a few recipes for foods you can make using this unconventional method.

I thought it would be an interesting and funny experiment to try out some of those recipes and report back my experience!

1. Quesadilla

coffee, cake, tea, beer
Shea McCollum

Ah, the classic. This is the recipe I saw over and over again  in my research of clothes iron recipes. The instructions for making this were simple enough. All I had to do was put some cheese on a tortilla, fold it up, cover it in aluminum foil, and heat each side for about two minutes on each side. As the quesadilla heated up in the foil packet, I could hear the faint sizzle of the cheese cooking. I knew this was going to be good

bread, wheat, flour, dough, cereal, pastry, unleavened, pita bread
Shea McCollum

When I took it out, it it had a nice golden brown color. Unlike the limp, soggy mess that's created when trying to microwave a quesadilla, this version crunched when I bit into it and all the cheese inside was uniformly melted. There is definitely a reason why this recipe is so popular. It's simple, it's easy, and it's absolutely delicious.

2. S'mores

Shea McCollum

I really wanted this one to work out. But the prospect of having a way to make s'mores in my dorm when I wanted to pretend it was still summer just seemed too good to be true. And it was.

After repeatedly flipping and ironing the little aluminum packet, I opened it up only to discover that the pressure of the iron had cracked the graham cracker. Not only that, but beneath the graham cracker was an unmelted, squished marshmallow. 

Shea McCollum

Nevertheless, I ate it for the sake of the experiment and let me tell you: nothing is sadder than an undercooked s'more. If you're really craving a s'more in your dorm room, you're better off taking your chances with the microwave. 

3. Grilled PB & J

peanut butter, peanut, toast, bread, butter, sandwich, banana
Shea McCollum

So for this one, I decided to try an upgrade on the college classic by substituting Pumpkin Butter for jelly.  Since there were no guidelines for making a grilled PB&J, I decided to follow the recipe for making a grilled cheese with an iron. The pictures of the grilled cheese promised me a perfectly toasted sandwich, but when I unwrapped it, there were only the faintest marks that it had been toasted.

peanut, bacon, peanut butter, sandwich, butter
Shea McCollum

However, I decided to keep an open mind as I tried it and let me tell you, I will never be satisfied with a normal PB&J again. The iron perfectly melted the peanut butter and, although the sandwich didn't appear toasted, it had just the right amount of crunch. I will definitely be trying this one again!

4. Omelet 

tea, kombu
Shea McCollum

I was really skeptical about this one, but I found a bunch of articles claiming that this was people's go-to meal when staying in hotels. I figured if those people had survived eating clothes iron eggs, so would I.

First, I struggled to keep the iron upside down. The recipes that I saw suggested I use duct tape to keep it steady, but for some reason that really wasn't working for me. I ended up using a bag to help steady the iron. 

cheese, chicken
Shea McCollum

Things just got worse from there. The recipe said that it would only take six minutes to make, but twelve minutes in my eggs were still very runny at the top. After waiting a few more minutes, I gave up on my desired fully cooked eggs, sprinkled some cheese on it, and ended up with this soupy mess. Needless to say, I did not taste this one.

5. Pancakes

peanut butter, cream, peanut
Shea McCollum

Finally, the food that started my whole quest to find clothes iron recipes. I couldn't find a recipe for this one so I had to be a bit creative. I kept used the iron upside down like I did with the omelet and tried to make a sort of pan with the aluminum foil. I mixed together some boxed pancake mix and crafted one little pancake onto the surface.

Shea McCollum

Since I didn't have a recipe for this one, I had no idea how long I would have to wait for my pancake to work. I gave it five minutes, ten, then fifteen. Still, nothing happened. I even used my hand checking to see that my iron was actually hot (spoiler alert: it most definitely was).

After twenty minutes, I was forced to give up on my pancake. It seemed like the bottom had started to become solid but there was no way I would've been able to flip it. My dreams of a dorm room pancake were crushed.

Overall, the clothes iron recipe was kind of a wash with some of the recipes turning out really well and the others not quite working for me. To anyone interested in experimenting with clothes iron cooking, I'd definitely recommend the grilled PB&J and the quesadilla. If you're craving pancakes, eggs, or s'mores, find some friends with a real kitchens.