Creativity and cookie dough

The Spectrum

Everyone was laughing, and I didn't know why.

I was in the kitchen of my residence hall making chocolate chip cookies. Two of my friends and I were jamming to music blaring out of a laptop and using wooden spoons and spatulas as microphones while happily rolling cookie dough into balls.

A few more of our friends came by to see what smelled so good and stayed to hang out.

I was just rolling cookie dough and placing the balls on the tray, but everyone couldn't stop laughing and no one would tell me why.

After demanding to know what was going on and threatening to smear cookie dough in my friends' hair, someone finally told me.

Every time I turned to my left to scoop more cookie dough out of the bowl, one of my friends would snatch a cookie dough ball off of the cookie sheet to my right and eat it. And I would contentedly roll another ball and set it down on the sheet exactly where they had just left an empty space.

I was furious. I made good on my threats of ambush and several of my friends got cookie dough in their faces and on their clothing. What few cookies I managed to bake did turn out scrumptious, and we had a feast.

I remember this night vividly as one of the many times cooking brought my friends and me closer while living in the dorms my freshman year. Though we all had meal plans, when dinner or snack options felt boring and monotonous or we wanted to celebrate a special occasion, we headed to the kitchen.

We cooked doubled recipes of chicken casserole and heaping bowls of pasta. We made birthday cakes, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cake cookies, s'mores cookies, pancakes, French toast - the options seemed endless. We were constantly browsing the Internet for new ideas.

I was known throughout my floor for always having a baked good for my fellow hallmates to taste test. There was a door to a stairwell right next to the kitchen, and people would walk by and yell, "What are you baking now, Alyssa?"

Baking was an outlet for me to relieve my stress. And I loved being able to hand out my creations to everyone on my floor. It was my hope that an unexpected cookie might make their day a little brighter.

By the time winter break rolled around at the end of my first semester, I had a cooking stash in my room that took up an entire shelf of my closet: bags of flour and sugar obscuring boxes of baking soda and bottles of vanilla extract, wooden spoons and pot holders poking out from pans and bowls stacked precariously on top of shiny cookie sheets.

It was not uncommon for one of my friends to poke his or her head into my room and say, "Hey, can I borrow your [insert any random cooking object here]?"

Cooking in the dorms is a great way to bond and spice up your daily routine. Living on campus does not mean being stuck in a meal plan. Most of the ingredients my friends and I used could be purchased in a convenience store in one of the residence halls or at Wegmans, which we could get to by bus.

The night before the first of our friends left for the end of the year, we had a huge pasta dinner as a floor family and talked about our memories of the year. Even though freshmen are required to have a meal plan, this doesn't have to mean feeling trapped within a swipe of your UB card. Cooking was a bonding experience for us, and it is an option for others, too.

You don't have to be a master of the kitchen. Just start with creativity and some cookie dough.