Valentine’s Gift Guide: For The Foodie

by Madeleine Brown

I am a serious, practical and, perhaps, even intelligent individual. However, beneath my crusty exterior, I am also a romantic. That said on my dream Valentine’s Day (the unofficial national holiday of all closeted romantics), I want gifts. Let’s not ignore the commercial ancestry of the holiday, right? And say your loved one’s a foodie, thank the love gods above for at least limiting your potential gift options to a single category. Whether you’re buying for me, or more likely your actual love interest, here’s my top choices for food-related Valentine’s gifts. Maybe they aren’t as romantic as you’d expect, but that probably just means you yourself aren’t a foodie. Stick to them and you can consider yourself safe…at least until your anniversary.

Valentine's Gift Guide: For The Foodie

3 Food Resolutions for 2017

The word “resolutions” makes me gag as much as rotten watermelon. Why make January anymore painful? We’re already overburdened with impending deadlines and disheartening winter weather. So I’ve got three food-centric resolutions—don’t worry there’s no mention of paleo here—that require absolutely no commitment. Try them once and you can count yourself resolved. Say though you give it a go and actually like what you experience, well, then go ahead and turn it into habit.


Buy one unfamiliar item at the grocery store

When your workload grows, grocery shopping often becomes quick and thoughtless—if you make it to the grocery store at all. Milk, check. Apples, check. Frozen pizza, check. Where’s the fun in that? There isn’t. Sure, submitting to routine is easy, but it’s boooring. Next time you drag your feet down the aisles, choose one unfamiliar piece of produce, brand of cereal, seasoning or whatever. To guarantee you actually make use of it rather than leaving it to gather dust in the cupboard, swap out an equivalent for an item you already buy. For example, instead of spaghetti noodles, buy udon or instead green grapes, buy concord. Buy it in small quantities with a couple backup servings of your regular. That way you’re not left eating something you don’t actually like until the next grocery shop.

Follow a recipe or create your own

Like grocery shopping, cooking (and eating for that matter) should never become passive even at your most tired or fed-up. Whether you constantly follow a recipe (this girl right here) or improvise one, try the reverse approach. If you find yourself in the first scenario, cook based on instinct. Start simple with say spaghetti in tomato sauce or a grilled cheese sandwich. If you cook regularly enough from recipes, you might surprise yourself with the base knowledge you’ve acquired. If you’re more of an improviser when cooking, find a recipe—doesn’t matter whether you’ve made your own version of the dish before or not—and follow it up to every exact measurement. It’ll give you insight into your own methods. Do you tend to underseason? Overcook your meat? Or does your pancake batter actually outshine Jamie Oliver’s?

Clean your cupboard and refrigerator

I won’t even toss in an opener: yes, I said clean. We’re quick to tidy-up our primary living space when we expect important visitors (i.e. our parents), but the same logic rarely applies to those hidden spaces only we frequent. At least once a year, completely empty your dry storage space, wipe down all its surfaces, toss whatever’s gone bad or unused and restock. Take the same approach to your fridge too, perhaps in the case of a bar fridge also defrosting the freezer. You’ll uncover treasures, both good (chocolate sprinkles, yay!) and bad (the shrunken remains of a clementine). Ultimately it’ll leave your kitchen not only cleaner, but also more functional.

3 Student Food Trends You’ll See in 2017

by Madeleine Brown

It’s so easy to call out trends until you realize why it’s so easy: they’re all already established. For example, I just thought Hawaiian poké was a brilliant call. And, you know why? Cause I’ve recently read about it online and in a handful of newspapers. It’s so 2016. While I love a good horoscope, I’m not one to claim I know what the future holds. So here are my completely uninformed, absolute guesses of food trends for the upcoming year. Just for fun I’ve limited my predictions to the student crowd. Let’s see if any of them actually make it to the dorm room.


I first encountered kombucha at my yoga studio where a teacher of mine was pandering his starter off to any willing students. While I didn’t take up the offer, it’s entered my realm of awareness. Kombucha is fermented black or green tea. Its bacterial content apparently offers an array of health benefits. That said there are equally as many opinions that suggest it can prove fatal. Always game for a risk, I foresee students giving kombucha a go. On a practical note, PepsiCo purchased kombucha producer, Kevita, late last year. So while you could adopt the risky DIY approach, it’ll likely continue to be easily (if not more so!) available commercially.

White bread and butter
Given the choice, we’ve been trained to choose whole wheat over white. But I suspect it’s time to question that logic. When it comes to mass-produced loaves, who really knows what’s best anyways? I believe students will give into their sense of nostalgia and without a shred of guilt buy white this upcoming year. And I’m not limiting that to WonderBread. There’s a whole world of breads produced from beloved all-purpose, white flour including snap-tastic baguettes and doughy Italian loves. And for that matter, skip the margarine, butter’s back and it’s all that appropriate to top a nice, thick slice of white.

Homebrewed beer and wine kits seem too laborious and costly to reach the student market. Cocktail sets on the other hand are not only a reasonable investment, but furthermore who would ever turn their nose up at the creations of a capable home bartender? Whatever your tastes, health requirements or dietary restrictions there’s a cocktail to match. And that means non-alcoholic cocktails are totally an option and craft in themselves. You can start simple with standards like martinis and Old Fashioned’s before graduating to original cocktails with homemade mixers and garnishes. A solid mixer can up the ante on any so-so liquor, so the cheap stuff is totally up for grabs in the case. Experiment away.

How to deal with post-holiday blues

by Madeleine Brown

After the high that comes with finishing first term and then the cushioning crash that comes with relaxing over the holiday break, second term can seem rather unwelcome. While it was acceptable over your holidays, now sleeping until noon, eating and napping until night is considered lazy. If you made it home and visited with friends and family, returning to campus and your acquaintances there can make you feel oddly lonely. And, worse of all, who wants to face the deadlines that come with new courses. There’s no guaranteed cure, but there are steps you can take to help mitigate post-holiday blues.



Continue to connect with friends and family from “home”
I use the term home loosely here because home might not be as straightforward as the place you grew-up in and where your parents now live. And it may not be the base you return to between terms. However, wherever and whatever you call home, there’s likely a clan of people you associate with it who exist quite separately from your college and university. Now that you’re a student, they provide a different insight on your life—a life they’re probably less directly a part of. However, just because they aren’t as present doesn’t mean you can’t continue to stay connected during school. Call, text, message, Skype or even write a letter to them during your downtime. And, maybe, that means expressing homesickness through laments or tears or simply finding out what they did during the day while you were at class. The sound of someone’s voice and their distinctive insight can provide comfort enough no matter how the conversation takes shape. It’s a reminder that yes, you are more than a student and you impact people outside of your school circle.



Get off-campus
Part of the delight of the holiday break is the chance to quite literally escape from campus. So remember that you can technically do that anytime during the term itself. Yes, you can’t always travel south or return home, but you could explore an unfamiliar neighbourhood, see a movie (not on your laptop!) or go as far as renting a car and taking a day-long road trip. Do it alone or with company, but again like connecting with friends and family, allow it to remind you of your existence outside of schoolwork. See it either as a comfort, or a welcome challenge. It’ll reawaken your sometimes dormant senses.



Utilize campus support
Like September, January is a reflective time minus the thrill of a new school year. And while post-holiday blues can last the whole month should these feelings persist, don’t hesitate to reach out to the counselling services available on-campus. You may never have thought of yourself as needing a counsellor, but it’s free and given its accessibility, it’s quite easy to keep entirely confidential. Likely, it’ll be competitive to get an appointment, unless you’re situation becomes urgent, but that should never become an excuse. As supportive as friends and family are, sometimes an unbiased opinion can provide new insights. And should counselling seem somewhat daunting or unnecessary, try office hours with professors or student life staff. Chances are they are more than happy to discuss something other than upcoming assignments. It’s not until graduation when you’re out in the real world, that you’ll realize the goldmine of opportunities these supports offer.