Category Archives: JMU Dining – #2 in the Nation

The College Culinary Guide for the Lazy and Hungry

by Eric Cecchett

Returning to school after a long summer can be difficult for some students. Exchanging those long beach-filled days and carefree summer nights for 15 credits and a job hardly seems like a trade worth making. For me, one of the hardest parts about coming back to Harrisonburg in the fall is saying goodbye to the coddling embrace of living in my parents’ house. After living in an apartment for two years where you would be hard-pressed to find a paper towel, I have come to truly appreciate the beauty of a domesticated and well-established kitchen.

Until I came to JMU and began living on my own, I never quite realized the challenges involved in shopping for and feeding oneself. But after many ramen dinners and desperate walks to E-Hall in two feet of snow, I like to think I’ve learned some valuable lessons. In this article, I hope to impart some of this knowledge in the hopes that it will educate even the most parsimonious and nutritionally confused college student.

Perhaps the most essential ingredients (get it?) to maintaining a well-stocked kitchen is to find recipes, plan ahead of time, and most importantly, make lists. On too many occasions have I absent-mindedly left the grocery store having forgot to buy the very thing I went there for in the first place. If you are half as scatter-brained as I am, a well thought out list is an absolute must for any successful grocery run.

Although I would strongly suggest using recipes (I’ll provide some later), if you are someone who simply prefers to wing it, I have some tips for you as well! Amassing a large selection of versatile and non-perishable foods allows you to have a wide range of meal options for an extended period of time. Purchases such as rice, canned beans, and frozen vegetables are easy to store and provide a countless variety of options for the cook who prefers not to follow directions.

Lastly, I will play the role of the concerned parent and implore you to not ignore fresh fruits and vegetables. Most grocery stores in the area offer a fine selection of fruits and veggies for an affordable price for any college student (try downtown Harrisonburg’s Friendly City Co-op for slightly more expensive, but delicious and local produce). I’ve learned in these past few years that buying lots of veggies for myself forces me to get creative and find new ways to use them that I never before would have considered. If you’re still like I was a few years ago and are scared of those greens on your plate, it’s time to grow up and learn to love your veggies.

Hopefully these tips have provided some guidance from your kitchen to the grocery store and everywhere in between. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes for your viewing (and perhaps tasting) pleasure. Enjoy! Easy, healthy and completely vegan tofu lettuce wraps! Sweet potato fries are an easy, moderately healthy snack (or meal) fit for any occasion.

This last recipe is one that my girlfriend and I have pieced together over the past couple of months. It incorporates tons of veggies and leaves enough leftovers to feed yourself for most of the week!

Chelsea and Eric’s lazy veggie pasta:

1 lb of your favorite pasta.

1 can of plain tomato sauce.

~2Tbs olive oil

½ large onion, diced.

½-1 green pepper, diced

1 clove of garlic, finely diced

½ block of tofu. (optional but highly recommended)

frozen spinach (however much you like.)

8-10 baby carrots, diced.

Salt (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Cumin (to taste)

  1. Start by sautéing onion, garlic, and olive oil in a medium sized pot (this will be the same pot that you cook your sauce in. So make sure it’s big enough!)
  2. When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the rest of the veggies and crumbled tofu. Continue to sauté for a few minutes on medium heat.
  3. After a few minutes, add the entire can of tomato sauce and stir, making sure the veggies are evenly incorporated. This is also when you want to add your spices. Turn heat to low and leave covered for roughly 30 minutes. Make sure to come back occasionally to give it a good stir.
  4. After the 30 minutes are up, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Once it is finished, combine with sauce in a large pot.


Tasty Autumn Treats Make Early Appearance in the Arboretum

By Taylor Hudson

On any given day, JMU’s Edith J. Carrier arboretum boasts picturesque landscape, a calming atmosphere, and a plethora of prosperous and beautifully tended plants. Although, on Friday, August 30th, the arboretum offered more than just a beautiful stroll; it gave JMU students, faculty, and local residents a chance to indulge in locally created refreshments.

“Wine and Cheese in the Trees” is an event hosted by the arboretum staff twice a year—once in the spring, and then again in the fall. The treats offered are typically centered around seasonal foods.

As the title suggests, the event offered many types of wine and cheese. But, at this autumn inspired event, apples were the true stars of the show. Tables of locally brewed hard-ciders along with homemade apple cider doughnuts gave this event a unique twist.

Misty Newman, Assistant Director in the Office of Community Service Learning, claims that she was excited to learn about the introduction of ciders at this typically wine-centered event. “It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the first week of classes,” Newman says. “You hear a lot about a lot of wine and beer pairings, but you don’t often hear of cider pairings. It’s nice to enjoy something different.”

Approximately seventy-five people attended the event, which included JMU students, faculty, and local residents—all obviously over the age of twenty-one. Each guest was given two tickets upon entry, and then, could exchange a ticket for beverage. The beverage menu included wines from Stone Mountain Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards—both Virginia-native wineries. The hard cider was from a relatively new cidery in Timbersville, Virginia called Old Hill Cider, owned by Showalter Farms.

The owners of the cidery, Shannon and Sarah Showalter, attended the event as well. They stood up in front of the crowd and discussed the history of their farm, the process of creating a hard cider, and the different types of cider created. This family-owned cider business is still in its beginning stages, but, according to the Showalters, its progress has leaped beyond their expectations—the revenue has already tripled from what was expected in their business plan.

Laura Williams, a Ph.D. student in the JMU Assessment and Measurement program, tried both ciders—Cidermaker’s Barrel and Yesteryear. “The Cidermaker’s Barrel Cider has more depth of flavor, almost a multi-flavor. It’s much richer,” she explained.

In addition to a beverage menu, there was an abundance of sweet treats. To compliment the hard ciders, homemade apple doughnuts were offered. Elizabeth Forsland, former JMU E-Hall pastry chef and current manager of Festival, put on a cooking demonstration. She walked guests through the process of making three different glazes—chocolate, white chocolate, and white chocolate maple. Each time she completed a glaze, guests could indulge in a taste-test of the warm, freshly made doughnuts.

All in all, the event was relaxed, enjoyable, and merely gave guests an opportunity to enjoy good company and great food, under the trees, on a warm August evening. What more could you ask for in a visit to the arboretum?

For more information on upcoming events in the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, visit their website at

Starbucks vs. Java City in Rose Library

By Lauren Privette

I know you Startbuck’s lovers out there are happy that the long awaited debut of the Rose Library Starbucks has finally materialized! Upon returning from winter break, students walking into Rose library felt their eyes quickly drawn to the rearranged café space brandishing the “Starbucks” logo along with a modern look and park mural ornamenting the new coffee shop. But was this a good change?

Determining who has the better coffee is a relative question, depending on the individual’s tastes and preferences making it consequently different for everyone. I, personally, prefer drinks a lot stronger than the coffee/espresso drinks I’ve received from Java City. However, there are people who prefer less of a coffee taste and more the opportunity to make it their own with flavors, creamers, and sweeteners. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends remark on the loss of their favorite White Chocolate Mocha from Java City. So have we gained or loss by the switch? Or perhaps found a nice compromise?

One major con to the switch is that you cannot buy notecards, bluebooks, writing utensils, etc from Starbucks. These last minute supplies shouldn’t be underrated— I’ve had to return home after just settling in at the library because I left blank notecards there when I usually just bought them from Java City. Hopefully, following Carriers example, Rose will put student supplies in the vending machines.

Food wise, Java City is superior in practically all aspects. Unlike Starbucks, they have options ranging from veggie snacks, to bagels (Mr.J’s bagels), to breads, to sweets. While this Starbucks has sweets and sandwiches, it does not have much variety. Ain’t nobody got money for a $4.00 sandwich!

Despite the cons in the food department, it is a plus to have a Starbucks and Java City on both sides of campus. With the Top Dog Starbucks being replaced with Red Mango, the redundancy of having two less than a football field away from each other is no more, and our favorite coffee shops are more evenly distributed across campus.

Overall, it’s a nice switch. The food and snacks are definitely something my friends and I find ourselves missing, but the arguably higher grade and stronger coffee has become a huge relief when studying in the library for seemingly endless hours. For those of you still missing Java City in Rose, take comfort in the fact that there is one only a short distance away in Festival.

Buffalo Mash

by Mike Bock

Ever since I was a freshman, I have been obsessed with D-hall.

Buffalo Mash is hands-down my favorite food offered at JMU. This combination of chicken, mashed potatoes, buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and a little bit of celery, all thrown together in a bowl, is so delicious that it could be considered proof that God loves us. And I’m not the only one who thinks Buffalo Mash is great— dozens of people I’ve talked to agree that Mash is among the best of JMU’s on-campus food. You’d think that, if JMU Dining has created a wildly popular dish, they’d want to serve it all the time… right?

Nope. D-hall only serves Buffalo Mash a few times per month, and usually only at weird times like Monday afternoons. I’m sure that they have a good reason for doing so, but I can’t help but think that myself and others would have a higher opinion of JMU Dining were to serve our favorite foods more often.

Fortunately, there’s something we can do about it. Next time you go to D-Hall, write on a comment card that you’d like to see Buffalo Mash (or whatever your favorite dish is) on the menu more. With enough cards, we can make a difference!

The Persnickety Punch

by Molly Robinson

Either as freshmen or as transfer students, we all got to know the ins and outs of on-campus dining the first year that we called ourselves “Dukes”. Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of acclimating to JMU was learning the value of a dining “punch”.

Although there are some freshmen that prefer to stay on the side of the campus that houses their dorm and have only eaten at the same two places their entire academic career at JMU, most of us know the value of a punch at various locations.

For example, we know that an all-you-can-eat meal at E-hall is only equal to a cup of soup and a drink from PC Dukes. You can also help yourself to desserts and ice cream galore at D-hall, but if you help yourself to dessert at Festival, you will find your FLEX or dining dollar accounts seriously depleted over the course of a couple of days.

And then there’s the concept of proportioning…the fact that you can go to E hall and get seconds and thirds of burgers and fries doesn’t seem equal to the fact that you have to pay more in addition to a punch just to get a side of fries with your burger at the new burger place at Festival.

Learning the ropes of on-campus dining is the price to pay for the third best-ranked college food in nation. Though the nooks and crannies of the punch and dining dollar system can be irksome, most of us wouldn’t trade the quality of the food here for a simpler system.

Starbucks vs. Java City

by Elizabeth Short

Every morning I need my fix of Folgers coffee, but I could always go for a ‘grande, non-fat, no whip, white chocolate mocha’ from Starbucks. And every Wednesday I know that I will be able to get that delicious drink with my friend. However, today I was told that she wanted to go to Java City because she had an extra punch to waste. At first I was very disappointed, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with trying something new. So, I got myself a hot chocolate (I know that it is not a coffee drink, but I wasn’t feeling a coffee drink, especially since it wasn’t from Starbucks). I have had hot chocolate from Starbucks in the past and all I can say is that the hot chocolate from Java City didn’t taste nearly as good as Starbucks hot chocolate and it wasn’t HOT!

When I walk into Starbucks I know that I will be guaranteed a drink that is hot and satisfying. I also know that I will be given good customer service. In the future when my friend tells me the day of that she wants to go to Java City just so she can waste a punch, I will say okay, but I am going to go to Starbucks!

Where do you prefer to get your coffee fix, Starbucks or Java City?

Tea Time

by Elizabeth Short

Have you missed those tea and scone breaks from studying on Wednesday afternoons? Well, Teatime is back! Mad4U will continue to provide the JMU community with free tea and scones every Wednesday at 4p.m. this semester.

I find myself drinking tea every once in a while, which made me start wondering about the health benefits of drinking tea, if any. So, I did some research and found a great blog that described some of the health benefits. The blog, Eat Drink Better, convinced me to drink tea more often, so maybe it will do the same for you. Here are just a few of the health benefits:

•    Tea contains antioxidants, which can help slow down the aging process
•    Tea can lower stress hormone levels – we could all use some stress relief
•    Tea fights cavities and reduces plaque – we all want healthy teeth
•    Tea keeps you hydrated – every cup of tea counts as a cup of water
•    Tea can help beat bacteria and aid your immune defenses– nobody likes being sick

I hope some of you will consider coming to Teatime today or in the future. I know I will be there!