September 25, 2020

BY STEPHANIE LEFEBVRE

A new cookbook has made it easier for students to cook for themselves. On Oct. 15, Nisa Burns, 21, from Virginia Beach, Va., released a cookbook catering to students and their accommodations. It’s called Kitchenability 101.

In the book, Burns tells a tale of how to become friends with your kitchen, whether it be a dorm room toaster oven or a cramped apartment kitchen.

After studying cookbooks for a year, Burns realized that there wasn’t anything specifically for students.

“Nobody had hit the nail on the head,” said Burns.

She said parents assume that they’ve given their children enough information and guidance about how to take care of themselves, but when they move out and try to cook, they find that they can’t.

It was then that Burns started her endeavour. About three years ago, she approached an editor with the idea. She shocked her, being 19, and the editor told Burns to get some recipes together and call her in a year.

So a year later, after saving $1,600, she returned to her dream of being a published author.

This year, she graduated from the Art Institute of Virginia Beach’s culinary program.

Though she lived in an apartment and had a well-equipped kitchen, Burns noticed her friends in smaller living quarters couldn’t cook. With the nickname of Mother Goose, she started to create recipes for her friends and she learned along with them.

“I wanted to utilize my culinary degree and help students adapt to their surrounding and their cooking space,” said Burns. “I had a full-fledged kitchen, but I wanted to know that someone else who didn’t could do the same recipe that I’m cooking.”

Burns said that was her goal and her mission. She started to post her recipes on a blog and figured it would make a really good book.

In Kitchenability 101, Burns offers healthier alternatives to cafeteria and fast food, although she didn’t include the nutritional information.

“I didn’t do it because I just knew that the demographic that I’m writing for doesn’t care,” she said.

Burns also said it’s more important to give them the option for healthy eating than bombarding them with nutritional facts. Her idea was to just give them a taste.

In the book, there are also a few recipes that most people wouldn’t need a recipe for, such as Peanut Butter and Jelly and Cheese Toast.

“Isn’t that funny?” she asked. “I did that for my own humour.”

She also figured when people go pick up a cookbook they assume that they can’t make anything and when they find that one recipe that they have the ability to make, that’s what sells them.

Burns’ publicist, Stephanie Ridge, agreed with that statement and has been with Burns for the last six months.

“Nisa’s whole message is that you don’t have to have a big fancy kitchen or have a hugely stocked pantry,” said Ridge. “You can use very little ingredients and very little appliances to come up with healthy, quick meals.”

Using strategies such as college dorm demonstrations and book signings, Ridge was comfortable with the sales so far. Both her and Burns were very pleased with the media attention as well. Through local and college newspapers, Burns has been able to connect with a larger audience.

One event in particular was at a bakery, doing a demonstration in front of an audience full of mothers and grandmothers.

“Each one of them couldn’t resist buying a copy or two as Christmas gifts for the college student in their family,” Ridge said.

She also said if she had had the option of a book like this in college, it could’ve saved her from eating bad food and opened her eyes to using fresh ingredients over frozen or canned.

Nowadays, students are more health conscious and being made aware of healthy eating at the beginning of adulthood can promote a good life-long habit and avoid the Freshman 15.

Kitchenability 101 is currently available through Amazon for $16.56.