Apple Crisp Pie, according to Bryn

4 apples, which you are allowed per day in the dining hall

granola from the cereal bar

sugar and cinnamon, which you have to buy but small containers will last you all semester

Instructions:

Place granola in the bottom of the provided frying pan or other oven-safe dish.

Slice apples and place on granola.

Season apples with cinnamon and sugar.

Cover with more granola.

Bake until golden brown.

University of Colorado foodies Faulkner Griffin and Bryn Morales spent the majority of their freshman year crammed in the 3-by-5-foot community kitchen on the second floor of Sewall Hall.

After one semester of eating in the dining halls, the women began looking for new and healthier alternatives to the same old food.

During winter break, vacationing with their families in Vail, Griffin and Morales found comfort in homemade food and decided to end their gastronomic drought.

"We both had meal plans so we decided to take the food that we would have ate in the dining halls back to the Sewall kitchen and see what we could come up with," Griffin said.

The girls, like all freshmen in the dorms, were required to have a 15 or 19-week meal plan. But Griffin and Morales used their dining hall food and a few additional ingredients to spice up their daily routine. After realizing they weren't the only freshmen yearning for a change, the girls began a blog -- dormet.blogspot.com -- posting recipes, music and stories of their successes and failures in the kitchen.


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Noodles, breadcrumbs and cheese became gourmet macaroni and cheese. Apples, sugar, butter and granola from the cereal bar became an apple pie. Cranberries from the cereal bar, spinach from the salad bar and coconut milk transformed plain dining hall rice into a delicious Caribbean treat.

The soon-to-be sophomores said they cooked occasionally at home but were inspired by uninspired dorm food to learn.

Bryn Morales cuts up strawberries for a dessert.
Bryn Morales cuts up strawberries for a dessert. ( MARK LEFFINGWELL )

"We barely spent any money," Griffin said. "We used mostly food from the dining hall which we were planning to eat anyway and only had to buy a couple extra things."

The dorm kitchen -- a closet-sized room with only a stove and sink -- was equipped with a frying pan and cookie sheet, which the girls used to make every dish.

"We found a hot pink spatula somewhere and our muffin pan came out of a trash can," Morales said. "We washed it and it was fine. We are all for repurposing things."

Repurposing both utensils and food is an eco-conscious and budget-friendly solution, Morales said.

CU sophomore Eric Hemler also lived in Sewall last year and met the girls in the dining halls.

"They made some amazing dishes," he said. "But I really liked the family dinner that we had."

Hemler was one of many the girls invited to a community dinner consisting of mostly repurposed dining hall foods. Hemler said he visits the blog a couple times a week.

Joey Purmort, who will be a sophomore at CU in the fall, said he visits the blog about every other day, searching for recipes, suggestions and tips on making his own meals now that he will be living off-campus.

"It's great because anyone can do this stuff," Purmort said. "Freshmen can use dorm food to make things but a lot of us are having to learn this for the first time now and this is easy stuff."

Purmort enjoyed watching the girls experiment in the tiny community kitchen and said he liked every dish he tried, almost.

"They made Pop Rocks pancakes one time," Purmort said.

Purmort said the food experiments also made for a great way to connect with other freshmen who might stumble upon the kitchen, smelling the dining hall delicacies.

The blog continues this summer with local restaurant reviews, info on where to go to get unique foods and with recipes from the kitchens of Griffin and Morales's parents' houses. Griffin said she's been able to experiment more with a full kitchen at her disposal. But Morales is still being put to the test as her family's kitchen is being remodeled.

"I'm limited to a microwave and a blender," Morales said. "It's harder then cooking in the dorms but it's keeping me on my toes."

A recent post describes a blueberry smoothie Morales made with her limited resources.

While cooking and blogging remains a hobby for these students, Griffin said they're hoping to one day turn their culinary commentary into a business.