For my entire college career (which has only lasted one semester so far), I have dined in Oberlin’s vegan co-op, Fairkid. Sharing two freshly cooked meals a day with my co-op friends was one of the things that, especially as a first-year student, made Oberlin truly start to feel like home.
However, after nearly four months of daily co-op meals, I retreated back to New York for break and Winter Term (read about my project here!). Coming home for the first long period of time since I started college was a bit of a shift in many ways, but the sudden lack of a co-op especially stood out to me. It was strange, at first, having one of the things that made college feel the most like home not present in my actual home. Instead of having a group of people I could rely on to decide what meal to make and how to make it, I had to do the brainstorming myself, with cutting boards taunting me like a blank canvas.
Luckily, I learned so much from cooking in the co-op that I was able to use to overcome this dilemma. I had never even heard of a tofu scramble before college, but by the time break began, I had learned enough about them that I unlocked the perfect nutritional yeast to turmeric ratio, and I now make myself multiple scrambles a week. Additionally, my creativity in the kitchen had skyrocketed since joining Fairkid. I went from being mostly a recipe follower to being able to see a handful of vegetables, wave a magic wand, and have a meal fizzle into thin air in front of me! Obviously it’s not quite that simple, but it still feels so much easier than it did over the summer. Despite this sudden ease, I haven’t been completely prevented from using recipes. I have made some delicious veggie burgers, stir frys, and chocolate peppermint cookies this month with a bit of help from Pinterest.
My cooking skills could be easily transferred from the co-op to my house, but that didn’t excuse me from having to adapt. Understandably so, there is a major difference between cooking for 60 people and cooking for one. Also, at school, I was never a head cook, the person who plans and leads their fellow chefs during the creation of a co-op meal. At home, I had no choice. Just as cooking at Oberlin has prepared me for cooking at home, brushing up my cooking skills at home has prepared me for the role of head cook, if I ever choose to take it on for real in a future semester.
Speaking of future semesters, my second semester at Oberlin starts this Monday! I am very excited to return to campus and see (and blog about!) what both the college and the co-op have in store over the next few months. Until then, I’ll leave a couple pictures from my January home cooking!