We all know what to do when life hands us lemons, but what do we do when Locke’s hands us fried
catfish and “lasagna”? The home cooking station is what we do and all Jaspers need at least a few recipes in their back pockets for Locke’s on its off days.
The trick is to not see it as a dining hall but as a grocery store. Instead of looking for meals, you should be treating everything as ingredients. With this in mind, the salad bar is going to be your best friend.
While Locke’s does a lot of things well (especially recently), these tips will help for those nights when the tex-mex line is a bit too long or you just want a change of pace.
Tip 1: Vegetables are a game changer
The salad bar and home cooking station are both wells of fresh vegetables. They add flavor, texture, and nutrition to almost anything and we are actually offered a wide selection of them. Add some tomato and red onion to your next bagel with cream cheese (add a bit of salt right on the tomato).
Tip 2: You can make literally anything into a sandwich
This is especially true with access to a panini press. A little bit of warmth to melt the cheese or peanut butter elevates your sandwich to a whole new level. Try a pressed peanut butter and banana on multigrain bread or a veggie wrap. Also stay on the look out for the days they put out Italian meats and fresh mozzarella—any combination of these makes great paninis.
Tip 3: Never forget about the grill/griddle station
The grilled chicken they make is actually very tasty. It goes great on top of a salad or in a sandwich. You can also avoid the scrambled eggs in the mornings by getting fried eggs at the griddle.
Tip 4: Most everything goes well on a salad
Combine your lettuce of choice with any of your favorite vegetables and toss on some steak or chicken from the carving station. Keep it healthy by replacing the croutons with a crunchy vegetable like peppers or carrots and holding back on the dressing. A bit of oil and vinegar is always good and a small amount of salt does wonders for a salad.
Tip 5: Jump around
Don’t stick to just one of the stations. Mix mashed potatoes and gravy from the carving station with the popcorn chicken and corn from the main line. Mix rice from the main line with beans or roasted veggies from the vegetarian line and rotisserie chicken from the carving station.
Tip 6: Use the home cooking station
The home cooking station lets us create something out of nothing on days when Locke’s is lacking. Here are some quick recipes for it:
Veggie Stir-Fry with Poached Eggs
For this one, the ingredients are carrots, onions, celery, and snow peas, but you can add or omit any vegetables you prefer. I sautéed them with a bit of oil and then tossed in the rice to let it toast up quick then hit it with a small amount of soy sauce. You can spice it with your favorite Annie Chun’s sauce (because that’s all they give us for sauces) but don’t go overboard. To poach the eggs, crack them into a bowl to make sure the yolk doesn’t break. Boil water and then turn the heat down before swirling the water with a fork and then dropping your egg gently in the middle. The pans are a lot shallower than is ideal so you may have to carefully flip the egg over. When you can tell that the white is just solid, remove with one of the slotted spoons from the drawer and drain on a paper towel; serve on top of the stir-fry.
Creamy Pesto Chicken
Once again, sauté your vegetables of choice in some oil. Shred chicken from the grilling station and add it once your vegetables are caramelized. The chicken is already cooked so you’re just looking to combine everything. Add pesto from the sandwich station, just enough to coat everything. Turn the heat down and add handful of tomato chunks; finish with a splash of half and half. This is a good thing to make on Sunday nights when you can eat it with the plain pasta but it’s also great over rice.