Saturday, February 28, 2009

First to Swipe! What it's Like to Arrive Early for Stimson Brunch at Goucher College

This morning I thoughtlessly meandered over to Stimson at 10:30am hoping to get a little jump-start on the day. I was just five feet from the dining hall's entrance when I suddenly remembered that they wouldn't open for another half-hour. This was the third time I've made that mistake this semester. It's especially embarrassing now that I am the creator/editor of a blog that aims to be an authority on dining halls, particularly those at Goucher. The last time this happened I wrote a post called "Delicious Omelet at Stimson Brunch" and today, guess what? I had the exact same thing! But since writing about that twice would be a major snooze-fest, I'm going to tell you a little bit about that it's like to be the first to swipe for Stimson brunch.

During the weekend "prime time" for Stimson brunch is between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm. That's the first hour the dining hall is open and the only time you can be one hundred percent sure they won't be out of the food and silverware you desire. I can't begin to tell you how many times I went to a late brunch (1:00 pm and later) only to find the cereal dispensers depleted, no silverware other than knives, no milk, hardly enough batter to make a full waffle, no fruit, no syrup, no cups, and no coffee! (Please note that these disasters never happened on the same day.)

If you plan on having an omelet make sure to get on line immediately; it grows fast! Even during the first hour of brunch people can find themselves waiting as long as 15 minutes before they place an order. Most of these hold-ups are caused by people who reach the end of the line but have no idea what they want in their omelet. Please, think about what you want before it's your turn. You are allowed to jump to the front of the line for a second or two to see what the options are. There is no excuse for standing dumbfounded in front of the omelet chef.

It is extremely easy and enjoyable to make a waffle during the first hour of brunch. The line moves quickly and the batter is the freshest it can be. Stimson usually offers a few kinds of waffle batter. In the past I've seen plain, whole wheat, blueberry, and chocolate chip. If the line is not too long you might consider adding some berries from the fruit salad to the batter while it's pouring onto the iron. Stimson will, on random occasions, provide cans of whipped cream that like to hang out by the waffle machines and the salad bar.

If you are worried about finding a seat, prime time might be the right time for you. The Stimson rush usually starts at noon and can run all the way through to 1:30 pm or later. Large groups arriving during the rush often have to split up or crowd extra chairs around a table. It's common to see tables so crowded that they spill over into the walkways and block traffic. Sometimes the rush is so bad that the dining hall staff cannot keep up with cleaning the tables. It is crucial that diners do their best to properly dispose of their waste and return their plates, silverware, and cups to the wash belt. This is considered appropriate dining hall etiquette and is greatly appreciated by dining hall staff and fellow diners.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stop Worrying About Your Wash While You Eat: 3 Easy Steps to Setting Up Text Message Laundry Notifications on Goucher's eSuds

Stop worrying about your wash while you eat! In just 3 easy steps you can be on your way to receiving text message notifications about your laundry status. Here's what you do:

1. Send a text message from your cell phone to your email address.
It doesn't matter what the message part says, just that it's being sent from your cell phone to your email address.

2. Check your email and copy the "from" or "sender" email address.
If you have Verizon Wireless you should find an address that includes your 10 digit phone number @vtext.com (ex. 1234567890@vtext.com).

3. Go to the Goucher College eSuds website and use this email address to select individual machines or register for auto-notification.
Make sure you choose the correct residence hall!

Selecting Individual Machines - Use this method to receive notifications when machines become available. You can also use this method to receive notifications about the machines you are already using. Just make sure you get back to your computer after putting your clothes in and select the correct machine numbers. This is my preferred method.

Auto-Notification - Click on the "Register for Auto-Notifications" button on the top right of the webpage. You will be asked to enter your college email address and click submit. After doing so you will receive an email with a link. Follow the link and choose ON for "Cycle Completed Notification." Just below that you will see a box where you can edit your "Notify Email Address." Use the email address discovered in step 2 if you would like to receive text message notifications. This method is linked to your one card so don't use someone else's card if you expect this to work!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New! Dining Hall Digest Now Features "Goucher College Dining Hall House of Operation" in Right-hand Column

I just added a handy little chart called "Goucher College Dining Hall House of Operation" to the right-hand column of Dining Hall Digest. It's pretty self-explanatory. I put the same info in this post so it will be searchable/archiveable. Enjoy!

Pearlstone Cafe
Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 11:30 pm
Saturday/Sunday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Stimson Dining Hall
Monday-Thursday 7:30 am - 8:00 pm
Friday 7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday/Sunday 11:00 am - 7:00 pm

Kosher Dining Hall
Monday-Sunday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
& 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Heubeck Dining Hall
Monday-Thursday 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Van
Monday-Thursday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm

The Scoop: A Guide to Eating in Goucher College Dining Halls this Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Scoop is a daily blog entry that helps make sense of the menus Bon Appétit management company creates for Goucher College's dining facilities. It reorganizes them by meal so you can more easily select where you would like to eat. This is the premiere entry.

The Scoop is brought to you in part by:
To Grandma's House We Go - Fun, Environmentally Happy, Handmade Clothing and Crafts
"Be sure to stop by for great deals from noon til midnight. Discounted items as listed and free shipping to USA & Canada!"

Here's The Scoop on Dinner...

Italian Pasta with Meat Sauce
Steamed Broccoli and Peppers
Tomato Vegetable Soup

Stimson Dining Hall
Kettles
Cream of Mushroom

Global
Cashew Crusted Tofu with Sugar Snap Peas & Sprouts
Sesame & Cilantro Soba Noodle Salad

Grill
Sausage & Pepper Calzones with Marinara & Melted Mozzarella Cheese

Comfort/Mainplate
Curried Tofu & Green Beans
Sauteed Chard & Onions
Artisan Bread Pizza with Gruyere & Fontina
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with Sour Cream & Guacamole

Pasta/Pizza
Whole Wheat Fusilli with Ricotta & herb Sauce
Four Cheese & Pesto Pizza

Carvery
Sante Fe Rotisserie Chicken


Heubeck Dining Hall
Toss-Ups
Cucumber & Yellow Lentil Salad

Stockpots
Asian Bowls

Global Greens
Katarikia Goshtu (eggplant stew with tamarind-chile stew)

Sandwiches
Middle Eastern Curried Chicken Salad on Flatbread

Cucina Verde
Frittata Puttenesca
Broccoli & Cheese
Braised Winter Cabbage

Comfort
Greek Style Turkey Meatballs
Sea Salt Crusted Baked Potato
Saute of Green Beans & Shallots


(((((No Menus Available for The Van & Kosher Dining Hall)))))


and now we Digest...

Pearlstone Cafe looks like a good option for someone in a bit of a hurry and looking for a moderately healthy dinner option. Their steamed vegetables are usually pretty good and their soups are sometimes quite impressive.

Remember, Pearlstone Cafe also offers prepackaged foods prepared by either Bon Appetite or outside restaurants. The only drawback is that they are usually very expensive. It's almost safe to say they are a rip-off, but every now and then it's worth picking something up. The prepackaged food supplied by outside restaurants is usually the most expensive and most annoying to purchase because you can not use dining dollars (flex) or a meal trade. In my opinion this is extremely unfair because it drastically reduces the selection available to students looking to use a meal.

So you not in a hurry tonight. Where do you go? Might I suggest Heubeck Dining Hall? Heubeck closes Friday (lunch is the last meal served) and reopens for dinner Sunday night. If you are like me you will miss it dearly over the weekend as Stimson Dining Hall becomes more packed and much less appetizing than during the week.

As I mentioned in an older post, Pearlstone always had delicious chicken salad. Heubeck, however, takes that chicken salad and does astonishing things. Tonight they will have a Middle Eastern Curried version that's quite good!

Chicken salad not your thing? Heubeck has an impressive comfort menu tonight. If my schedule allows me I would love to make it there to try the Greek Style Turkey Meatballs.

Are you a die-hard fan of Stimson Dining Hall? Here's what you should keep your plates clear for tonight...

The "Cashew Crusted Tofu with Sugar Snap Peas & Sprouts" looks very intriguing. If I don't eat there tonight I would like to try it some other time; maybe even make it myself.

Pasta is always a good choice in Stimson. Tonight they are featuring a more health conscious "Whole Wheat Fusilli with Ricotta & herb Sauce," though other options are always available. It's hard to go wrong at the pasta station, but when it does happens it's most always your own fault for messing up the order.

The carvery option "Sante Fe Rotisserie Chicken" sounds good too. That's also fairly healthy (compared to the roast beef and ham they usually prepare).

That's all I have for you today. Now go forth and make your dinner selections!

Please leave some comments following this post regarding the menu (and non-menu) options you try in the dining halls tonight.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Josh Hirsh’s Profile of the Student Dining Center at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte Campus

Hello, my name is Josh! I’m a 2006 Culinary Arts graduate of the Johnson & Wales Charlotte campus, the newest addition Johnson & Wales University. At the beginning of the fall semester in 2004 we had brand-new everything, and I really do mean everything. The classroom equipment had either been tested a few times or not used at all. The facilities, including the dorms, academic centers, kitchens, bakeries, meeting spaces, offices, etc, were spotless and gleaming with promise of good things to come. And the dining hall was a spacious, well thought out, well laid-out, and quite promising looking place where students would be able to go to and receive nourishment that would be on par with the quality and standards JWU is known for. Sadly, we were all mistaken. But it wasn’t all bad news. It was not terrible by any standards. That is, until you were unfortunate enough to be treated to dinner on an “ethnic night.” Let’s break it down by meal.

Breakfast

This was, by far, the highlight of the dining hall’s repertoire. They had quite a large variety of food to offer, and by and large the food was quite good for breakfast: it certainly contributed its fair share to the freshman 15, that much I can assure you. The following items were available daily: Cereals with your choice of milk, fruit – both fresh and canned/prepared, scrambled eggs, either sausage or bacon, grits – wouldn’t be the South without them, breads, bagels, pastries, pre-mixed waffle batter that you could pour and cook in the custom made JWU-logo waffle irons, and a few other odds and ends. The specialties that were offered every few days were different variations of grits, biscuits and gravy – my personal favorite, French toast, pancakes, etc. There might have only been one or two mornings my entire freshman year before class that I did not partake of the lovely breakfast offerings before running off to class with a belly full of contentment. It was the same deal on the weekends, except they added a person or two who made custom omelets, which just sweetened the deal. Breakfast was good, that I will not deny. But breakfast leads inevitably to:

Lunch

Lunch was, well, not so good. If you’ve eaten at a college dining hall before, you’ve pretty much seen and had exactly what we did. Pre-made sandwiches, salad bar with almost no variety from day to day, some sort of either over- or under-cooked pasta dish or dishes, usually some over-baked and under-topped pizza varieties, and various other offerings. Being a culinary student, especially during my Laboratory rotations, I didn’t go to lunch all that often. When I did, however, it was very crowded and the food quality seemed to have inexplicably suffered. Most of the time if I was desperate I could find something edible, tasty even, but that didn’t occur all that often. The one meal that I was consistently disappointed and rather shocked over was…

Dinner

Dinner was, by all accounts, incredibly hit-or-miss, meaning that dinner would either be relatively good or quite bad. I will give the people who ran the dining hall credit: they certainly tried to keep things creative and work up some interesting menus for events. They did quite a good job of pulling off barbeque and the required side items for “Football Night,” when the Carolina Panthers were playing at home. I give them full credit for that. They even offered menu items that were “Kosher for Passover” for the Jewish students. They messed up and made a few of the items non-kosher, but the intention was fantastic and I very vocally praised them for doing so. Every once in a while they would surprise me with something good, but overall it was…well…not so good. The salad bar, again, with the same items as lunch and sometimes a few variations was sometimes a safe bet. The same pitfalls from lunch would follow over into dinner without fail: overcooked this, undercooked that, bland items, uninspired food, etc. This, however, was not the biggest pitfall of the dining hall. Their creativity became their downfall. Whenever students were subjected to an “ethnic night” such as Indian, Mexican/South American, or Asian, bad news was soon to come. To put it in as genteel a way as I can, many people experienced some gastrointestinal distress after those nights. I vowed after the very first “Mexican” night that I was not going to be attending the specialty, “ethnic” nights at the dining hall anymore, and I stuck to that religiously with the exception of Passover because I was really tired of matzoh. This became especially true when six people fell ill with salmonella after eating unwashed lettuce from the salad bar. Just for those who don’t know; when two or more people become sick from a food-borne pathogen, it is considered a “food-borne illness outbreak” and is the kind of thing that gets restaurants shut down in the blink of an eye. I started to eat off campus a little more often after that.

You might wonder why I’m writing this article. What you may not realize is that JWU Charlotte had, if memory serves, over half of its student population studying some aspect of the Culinary Arts: Culinary, Baking and Pastry, Food Service Management, etc. Every single one of these students, in the course of their freshman year took ten lab classes on different aspects of food preparation: roasting/grilling/frying, sauteing/shallow and deep frying, baking and pastry, beverage service, commercial food production, nutrition, and even dining room class. Every student also took Food Service Sanitation and was required to take and pass a nationally recognized Sanitation exam called ServSafe, the industry standard. There was this incredible wealth of talented culinary artists, some well into their cooking careers and some just starting out, and yet all dining hall food was created and served by an outside company. It took well into my sophomore year before any students got involved in the dining hall’s food service operations. It really shocked me that it took the school that long to get students involved, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if it made a difference.

Here is a video, it's a bit lame, but it does a great job explaining JWU and JWU Charlotte:



All three images came from the food service company's website:
http://www.dineoncampus.com/jwcharlotte/index.cfm?

Check out the Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte website:
http://www.jwu.edu/campus.aspx?id=25934

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Escaping the Dining Hall: Beth’s Cheap and Easy White Bean Soup Recipe

Hi! My name is Beth and Michael has invited me to tell you a little bit about how I avoid the dining hall by cooking for myself on an insanely low budget.

I'm not a huge fan of Stimson and I've purchased the 100-meal plan, so I eat a lot of my meals in my room. I used to live mostly off of frozen food and cans of soup, but that can get pretty expensive. It's also not very healthy. I bought a small rice cooker this semester and I've been cooking almost all my non-dining hall meals now. It’s much easier and tons more fun than you’d think!

Here's the recipe for white bean soup that I made Saturday night:
  • olive oil
  • some onion
  • one clove garlic
  • carrots
  • celery
  • one medium potato (all purpose)
  • spinach
  • one can white beans
  • a few tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • whatever seasonings you want!
Place the olive oil, onions, and the garlic (minced) in the rice cooker and set it to "cook.” While the onions and garlic are sauteing, chop the vegetables. After the onions and garlic have browned you may want to add water and start mixing in the vegetables (all except the spinach). Then add the beans, tomato sauce, and whatever spices you have around. Salt and pepper will work fine if that's all you have around. If the rice cooker switches to "keep warm" simply switch it back to the “cook” setting. Keep the soup covered until the vegetables are soft. Add the spinach a couple minutes before you turn off the heat.

This recipe is extremely versatile and costs less than 2 bucks to make. Throw in whatever veggies you have and it should turn out fine. It's also really thick. If you want a thinner soup use fewer beans and less potato. If you don't get to the grocery store often enough to justify buying perishable vegetables, you can find a lot of veggies at the salad bar in Pearlstone Cafe. I’m sure you can find salt and pepper there as well.

Lookout for my next post where I'll talk more about my rice cooker and how awesome it is!

Yours Truly,
Beth :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dining Hall Digest is Now on Blogged, Technorati, Digg, PostRank, FuelMyBlog, Lijit, BlogFlux, and Other Great Blog Directories!

Dining Hall Digest can now be found on many of your favorite blog directory sites. Here is the complete listing so far:
Please take some time to explore all of the wonderful features these blog directories have to offer. Many of them will allow you to rate the site, post comments, leave a review, and share links with friends. I will do my best to keep all of the listing up to date and fitted with useful information. If you would like to suggest additional blog directories please leave a comment following this post.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chicken Salad on Challah Loaf with Lettuce and Tomato, Steamed Broccoli and Carrots, Old Bay Fries, and a Cranberry Juice on the Rocks


Chicken Salad on Challah Loaf with Lettuce and Tomato, Steamed Broccoli and Carrots, Old Bay Fries, and a Cranberry Juice on the Rocks. Dinner from Goucher's Pearlstone Cafe last night, roughly 8:00 pm.

Pearlstone makes their chicken salad the best way possible (in my opinion), with large chunks of white meat and the perfect amount of mayonnaise. It's often my "safe choice" when I can't decide what to get or I'm in a time crunch. Speaking of crunch, adding chips to Pearlstone's chicken salad is a great way to mix things up!

Check out these three chicken salad recipes:

Fruited Chicken Salad (Diana Rattray, About.com)
Chicken Salad With Walnuts and Grapes (Diana Rattray, About.com)
Mustard Chicken Salad (Ina Garten, FoodNetwork.com)

Pearlstone Cafe will be closed on Saturday, February 21, 2009

I just received an email stating that Pearlstone Cafe will be closed on Saturday, February 21, 2009 due to maintenance issues. The Van will be open in its place from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Pre-made sandwiches, salads, bakery items, juices, milk and coffee, etc, will be available. (Original email from Calvin E. Gladden, Director of Business and Auxiliary Services at Goucher College)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New! Pesto Bowls at Goucher's Pearlstone Cafe

Goucher College's Pearlstone Cafe featured large pesto bowls "to go" last night. The bowls contained generous portions of tri-colored rotini pasta mixed with a light pesto sauce. I added some crunched up Miss Vickie's Jalapeño Potato Chips to give it an extra kick.

I am not sure if the pesto bowls are here to stay but it would be great if they did. It is easy to get sick of Pearlstone's "to go" sandwiches, especially since there are hardly ever more than two kinds available at any given time. On many occasions I have opened sandwiches to find a soggy, unappetizing mess.

The Miss Vickie's potato chips I've had from Pearlstone in the past few days have been quite delicious. The jalapeno chips are my favorite. You can find all of the nutritional information here: http://www.missvickies.ca/en/pdfs/all_flavours.pdf

Don't forget to vote in this week's poll:
What is your favorite dining hall on Goucher's campus?

Thank you for visiting Dining Hall Digest!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heubeck Served Pointy Potato Wedges

This evening I ate an early dinner in Heubeck dining hall. They were serving seasoned potato wedges and I decided to try some. Much to my surprise, as I went to take my first bite, I felt something sharp poke my upper palate. After examining the potato wedge I noticed how the very end of it came to a sharp point. The same was true for three other potato wedges on my plate. At that point (please forgive my terrible pun) I decided a sandwich would make for a safer meal.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Delicious Omelet at Stimson Brunch

This afternoon I enjoyed a delicious omelet in Stimson dining hall. It contained tomatoes, onions, spinach, peppers, and cheddar cheese. The man who cooked it seemed to be in a pretty good mood. I bet it was because brunch was ending in half an hour, or maybe he had a hot date for Valentines Day. Whatever the reason, I'm sure it had something to do with how great the omelet turned out.

In addition to my wonderful omelete, I had a bowl of Golden Grahams with skim milk and three cheese blintzes drizzled with raspberry sauce and sprinkled with a dash of powdered sugar. The blintzes were disappointing because they were crunchy and difficult to cut, although the raspberry sauce and powdered sugar made for a very flavorful accompaniment. Stimson's blintzes are never spectacular but you can always count on them to fill you up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Welcome to Dining Hall Digest!

Welcome to my first public blog, Dining Hall Digest! My name is Michael Karelis and I'm a senior Communications major at Goucher College. It is my intention to use this space to discuss my experiences in the dining halls of Goucher by posting written entries, pictures, videos, web links, menus, and other relevant media. I'm counting on you, my wonderful readers, to help expand the conversation. Invite your friends, leave comments, share links, subscribe to the news feeds. It's all very easy to do. Also, as the community grows, I may call on some of you to write guest blog posts.

I am looking forward to becoming a part of your online experience!

Sincerely,
Michael Karelis

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