As high school graduations conclude and summer jobs begin, students heading off to college in a couple of months might be focused on choosing a roommate, how to outfit a dorm room, and – oh yes – which classes to take.
They probably won’t think about making their own meals while away at college – until they get hungry night after night.
Not to worry, though, if thoughtful friends and loved ones gave their favorite student a copy of either “The College Man’s Cookbook” or its newly released counterpart, “The College Woman’s Cookbook.”
She can’t cook, you say? He can’t even boil water?
These cookbooks promise to help college students learn their way around the grocery store, the kitchen and their budgets.
Co-authored by mother and son team Carrie Hirsch of Hilton Head Island and George Hirsch Jr. of Brooklyn, N.Y., the two books offer not only simple recipes crafted for the budget-conscious chef, but tips for buying foods (don’t buy cracked eggs!), saving money (buy one, get one free or discounted), choosing produce, and how to impress one’s friends and ’rents (parents) with one’s new culinary skills. Ideas for cooking with friends and hosting dinner parties are included.
Cooking had long been one of his hobbies, and George tried in college to replicated his mother’s delectable meals. Among other talents, Carrie is known in the Lowcountry as a creative cook who can whip up a gourmet meal in a matter of hours. She has also written about food for various publications, including the South Carolina Living magazine published statewide by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
Restricted to a tiny kitchen in the apartment he shared with five roommates, George figured out ways to make do, and do so creatively.
“The College Man’s Cookbook” was the result of his experimentation and his mother’s generous input. The book was successful.
“After we wrote The College Man’s Cookbook, George and I had not actually discussed doing a follow-up cookbook,” Carrie said, “but then once the first cookbook got out there and became popular, people of all ages actually came back to George and me and asked us to write ‘The College Woman’s Cookbook,’ because men aren’t the only ones who need help in the kitchen.”
Carrie said the central idea of the new book is to help college women learn how to cook, which saves tons of money instead of constantly eating out and ordering in, and also allows women to make choices about the quality of ingredients they consume.
“Plus, cooking is such fun and is a bonding experience!,” she said.
The work started in 2017 and mother and son worked on the recipes as often as they could. Not only are recipes created, but they must be tested and retested, carefully written with instructions – long process.
“During the pandemic, when we were in the final stages, George and I worked on the cookbook both virtually and in person,” Carrie said. “It was challenging … We were constantly testing and retesting recipes and coming up with new ideas together for tips and advice and also asking others to test the recipes to be extra sure they were clear and user friendly.”
“The College Woman’s Cookbook” was published in May this year, with a foreword by Cynthia Graubart, author of 11 cookbooks, including three co-authored by Nathalie Dupree, queen of Southern cooking.
“The main difference between our two cookbooks … is that “The College Woman’s Cookbook” recipes are a little more complex with more ingredients, and some of the dishes are lighter with a focus more on salads. There is also a chapter on ideas for what to make for special celebrations like birthdays and sorority events, which we think college women are more prone to do than college men!”
George now lives in Brooklyn and works in sales for the Brooklyn Nets (basketball team), while Carrie remains on Hilton Head and works for the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and volunteers in various capacities.
“It was so wonderful to work on these cookbooks with my son,” she said. “We both have such a passion for eating well and cooking from scratch and we love to share this passion with others. People think cooking is more challenging than it actually is. My kids and grandkids tease me because they say I have more photos of food than of them which, I must admit, is true. So I tell them I don’t love them any less than that yummy grilled cheese on my phone!”
The books are available on Amazon or Etsy for $19.95.