College is a place to gather knowledge, sitting attentively in Great Works of Philosophy, Painting From Life, or Virus Infections & Cellular Transport II. But you also learn much that isn’t on the syllabus: developing good taste in music, surviving sleep deprivation, and making breakfast without appliances or money. “Innovation” and “disruption” may be fresh buzzwords to your business professor, but any sophomore who has toasted bread with a flat iron already knows all about it. (If you’re one of those lucky people who is permitted to have a microwave in your dorm room, stop here. Buy yourself a case of those Jimmy Dean pancake-wrapped sausages on a stick and a bottle of maple syrup, go crack open your most neglected textbook, and quit wasting time on the internet.)
Naturally, a coffee maker is crucial to getting up in the morning, as well as staying up all night to study for midterms. But aside from experiments in caffeination—What happens if we make coffee and then use that coffee as the water to brew more coffee!?—it can also be used for solid food. Oatmeal is a natural, although it’s Dickensian gruel on its own, which is why you keep toppings in a drawer, whether it’s a box of raisins, bag of almonds, or a few jelly packets from the hoard you stuffed your pockets with the last time you got up in time to go to the dining hall.
There’s also coffee pot eggs. Heat up the water, drop an egg or two in the carafe and let boil for ten minutes. Prefer your eggs fried? Get one of those tiny coaster-sized pans and use the heating element in the coffeepot as your burner—or scramble up an egg and throw it into Ramen noodles can be made with coffee maker-heated water. (Do yourself a favor and grab a can of cooking spray on your next supermarket run, otherwise three-day-old stuck-on egg goo is bound to become a part of your life sooner or later. Also grab some tinfoil for reasons that will become clear.)
Another useful cooking appliance is the iron. You may or may not use it to get wrinkles out of your clothes, but it comes in handy for whipping up a hot meal. Students have been using it to make grilled cheese sandwiches since television was black and white and all phones were land lines. Wrap up bread and cheese in foil, and press for three to four minutes on each side with an iron set on medium. The same method can also be used for quesadillas—put on steam and hit each side for about two minutes or so.
If you’ve got a late class or lazy Sunday, you can even make French toast: Stir egg and milk together in a coffee mug, smear on bread, wrap it in foil, and work that iron. Once it’s unwrapped, pour on whatever syrup, jelly or honey you’ve snitched from the dining hall, slice on that banana left over from yesterday’s brunch and add half a packet of instant cocoa to your coffee for a caffe mocha. Treat yourself. After listening to your roommate snore all night, you deserve it.
Lissa Townsend Rodgers moved from New York City to Las Vegas over a decade ago in search of a place where both bourbon and bacon-egg sandwiches are available 24-7. By day, she is a senior writer for Vegas Seven magazine. By night she can be found fighting injustice and leaping tall neon signs in a single bound or sitting on her couch watching Kojak reruns.