SIOUX CITY | In the weeks leading up to the new school year, Rook Willia said she is all about gadgets that are compact, squeezable and multitasking.
"Kids will soon be leaving for college," the owner of Southern Hills Mall's Kitchen Dressings said. "When parents are looking for kitchenware for their kids, they come to me."
However, freshmen foodies aren't looking for traditional pots and pans. You see, dorm dwellers simply do not have the luxury of space.
Instead, Willia said they're looking for a handful of essentials and apparatuses to make microwavable munchies.
"College students prefer function and ease over everything else," she said. "That's why a microwave is a must-have in any dorm room."
So, what are kids nuking nowadays? Willia is hoping they're whipping up something nutritious like omelets.
"Omelets are a perfect example for one-container cooking," she said, showing an orange, microwave-safe omelet maker. "With this, you simply pour in some eggs, add desired ingredients, and pop it into the microwave for five minutes. And out will come a savory, perfectly shaped omelet that will be delicious in the morning or at a late-night study session."
But what goes better with eggs than a slice or two of bacon? Willia suggested a microwave bacon cooker will add some sizzle to the step of pork-loving students.
"This bacon cooker is wonderful because it allows the grease to drain into an escape trap," she said. "Not only does that make for crispier, healthier bacon, it makes cleaning a breeze."
In addition, the bacon cooker folds flat for simple storage.
"When you don't want to see it, you just put it away," Willia said. "It really is quite ingenious."
Well, we may have a disagreement on our hands. If you ask us, Kitchen Dressings' truly ingenious items are the reusable bags that allow for making gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches inside of a regular toaster.
"A grilled cheese sandwich is comfort food," Willia said. "A non-stick, heat-resistant toaster bag that makes perfect grilled cheese sandwiches is a constant reminder of home."
OK, we've been talking about nothing but food. But what about a good cup of joe? Kitchen Dressings has a wide selection of portable coffee presses that will come in handy for young scholars pulling all-nighters.
"College kids love coffee," Willia said. "Making it in their dorms will save them a trip to an expensive coffee place."
Willia knows that from personal experience.
"My son is now a senior in college," she said. "Between my son and my staff, we've tested many of the new products for both portability and ease."
"If they gives the gadgets a thumbs-up, well, that's good enough for me," Willia added.
She also realizes that the kitchen accessories purchased for college will likely follow kids long after graduation.
"I look at quality kitchen accessories as an investment," Willia said. "You'll take them when you move into your first apartment and, perhaps, after you marry."
Though we may be getting ahead of ourselves.
With the school year fast approaching, Willia insisted that outfitting a dorm room with kitchen essentials need not be a burden nor should it cost an arm and a leg.
"A student can get by with the bare essentials if he has items that are affordable, multipurpose and user-friendly," she said.
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