Settling back into dorm life can be a serious challenge ? no air-conditioning, having to use shower shoes and ? worst of all ? schlocky college food.

Everyone recognizes that campus food isn’t exactly easy on the digestive tract, but what alternatives do we have?

With a few dollars, some basic kitchen equipment, and about 45 minutes, you can make an easy, quick and gastronomically delightful dinner.

So put Emeril on mute and pay attention.

Late summer/early fall is tomato season ? the most variety of tomatoes are available, delivering the most pungent, refreshing flavors.

At this time of year you can get top-quality tomatoes at most supermarkets, so an extra trip to the vegetable stand or farmers market isn’t necessary.

These two gorgeous Italian classics, homemade bruschetta and penne alla pomodorini, are perfect for tomato season and to enjoy the last few days of warmth before fall.

Pasta is a very good genre for dorm cooking. Most sauces are healthy, easy to make and very forgiving ? slight mistakes in the cooking proces will not really effect the flavor.

They key to making good pasta is your sauce, or condimento in Italian.

Condimento means condiment. Italians prefer pasta to serve as the center of the dish and the sauce as an accompaniment. Be sure that you don’t drown your pasta in sauce.

Once you are appropriately full ? the point at which you can no longer breathe ? you and your dinner guests will agree that dorm food can’t get much better than this.

For the Bruschetta you need:?1 French Bread or Sourdough or Ciabatta (whatever looks good)?2 large tomatoes (maybe beefsteak since they are in season)?2 cloves of garlic ?5 tablespoons of olive oil ?pinch of salt?pinch of Italian seasoning You can add any fresh spices you like, which usually makes the dish even more flavorful. If using fresh spices, be sure to roughly chop them, not use them whole, as cutting releases the oils and thus the flavor.Take your tomatoes and dice them, or cut them into small pieces. Next, chop the cloves of garlic. In a large mixing bowl, place tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and Italian seasoning. Mix thoroughly. Take the French bread and slice it on the diagonal into about 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. Diagonal slicing makes slightly larger slices than if you cut straight across the bread. Toast lightly in your toaster oven, or warm them for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees. Remove bread from toaster oven and spoon tomato mixture onto it.

Penne alla pomodorini is really one of the more delicious pasta dishes and is very easy to make. The following recipe should serve as your base:1 pound of penne or rotini 2 boxes or bags of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half6 mushrooms, cleaned with a paper towel and sliced?1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped ?4 cloves of garlic, chopped?8 tablespoons of olive oil?pinch of salt?pinch of Italian seasoningIn a large pot, boil about eight cups of salted water. In a large frying pan with heat on medium, add olive oil, garlic and onions. Saut for three minutes and then add mushrooms. Saut again for about three minutes. Then turn the heat to medium low and add the cherry tomatoes. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of Italian season to taste. When you have about ten minutes until your sauce is done, add the box of pasta with a drop of olive oil to the water. Cook for about eight minutes. Drain water and add pasta to the pan with the sauce. Mix it around for 30 seconds. One important trick regarding tomato sauce is salt. If you add salt to the pan at the beginning of the cooking process the tomatoes will exude their juices and you’ll get a much runnier sauce.

Blumenfeld can be reached at

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