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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Next Great Reader Contest!

Maybe you're a college student who's kicked off the dorm meal plan. Maybe you know one. Maybe you're paying for one. Or maybe you just like quick, easy, inexpensive, tasty recipes made from the very best Trader Joe's can offer. And just maybe, you read Nathan's review of the latest, greatest, and most school spirited TJ's cookbook ever - The I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook - and you're wondering how in the world you can get yourself a copy. You can go the old school way and go to an actual bookstore to get it, or click over on Amazon and buy it, but...well, you're going to be spending enough on books soon enough as is, why not get it for free? That's right, the What's Good at Trader Joe's team is giving away a copy of it on the house to one lucky reader. Let's keep it elective gen-ed easy with some very basic entry rules that even a freshman could follow:

1. Like our Facebook page and also the I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook Facebook page and look, you're entered! I mean, you have to like us for us to give you something, and I presume you have to like this in order to want to win it, right?
2. Tag us in a Facebook post and you're entered again, but only if it's nice! (In case you're not sure what this means, here's a cheatsheet)
3. Like or comment on one of our posts on Facebook, or leave a comment on the blog page, and you got yourself another chance.

Contest runs from now til Tuesday August 16, at 9pm EST. One winner will be picked in a random drawing, and look for the Facebook announcement shortly thereafter. We'll also drop you a line so we can get your address, etc to ship it on out to ya. We'll give you 48 hours to respond and if you don't, we'll assume you're trapped in the creepy corner of the campus library and find another taker. We're only going to ship it to somewhere in the U.S.

Well, that's it, so good luck! This will not be graded on a curve.

The I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook

Perhaps it's fate that State College, Pennsylvania, home of my alma mater PSU, will see its first Trader Joe's store open later this year. Maybe it's no coincidence that this blog, fueled by a love of Trader Joe's food, is helmed by a duo of proud Nittany Lions. And possibly it was no accident that this ingenious cookbook, authored by professional chef and food writer Andrea Lynn, is now available to Penn Staters and other college students around the country, to potentially save them from the same food-crimes that I myself fell victim to some 10 years ago there in Happy Valley.

During my college years, I lived in a big house on Beaver Avenue with five other guys, all Penn State students. To put it mildly, our house could have used an interior decorator's touch. But as a wise film professor once told me, "Your budget is your aesthetic." That statement was not only true for filmmaking, but it could also be applied to nearly every facet of living, and we, the inhabitants of 622 W. Beaver Ave. took that idea to heart, decorating our house as our ultra-low budget dictated. Our shelves were lined with light-up Santas, LP record covers of bands we'd never heard of, a few mannequin heads, and a five-foot tall styrofoam cactus from a Chi-Chi's restaurant. We took what we could get, and we made things look interesting, if not aesthetically pleasing. Our budget was our aesthetic indeed.

And eating habits were no exception. Our cupboards were a collection of college-fare clich├ęs. Cans of tuna and Spam lined the shelves, topped by rows of easy mac, ramen noodles, and loaves of semi-stale bread. We were frightened of cooking and intimidated by grocery shopping. Taco Bell's 49¢ taco night was the sole representation of "international cuisine" in our diets. In short, we were poor, and we ate poorly.

However, today's collegian need not suffer such culinary woes—not even one who's strapped for cash—not so long as he or she has a Trader Joe's store nearby and The I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook in hand. With incredible full-color photos and easy-to-follow instructions, the book guides readers through 160 pages of cheap and painless recipes. Even the most inexperienced cooks can whip up dishes like the Thai Red Curry Deviled Eggs, pictured right.

Don't think you've got the culinary skills? No worries, these are "dishes you can't eff up." The foods in this book are seriously simple to make. There's a system of icons indicating things like which recipes require no cooking, which ones take less than five minutes to prep, and which ones can be made using only a microwave. Most of the recipes only list 3 or 4 steps of instructions! It really doesn't get much easier than this.

There are even drink recipes in here: both non-alcoholic and otherwise (for college students that happen to be OVER the age of 21!) And really, I graduated from PSU a decade ago, but I am still opposed to spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and this is totally my kind of cookbook. It isn't just for university students. Think college kids, but also think bachelors, lazy people, fans of Trader Joe's, and lovers of all things streamlined and efficient.

Man, that pulled pork sandwich picture is making me hungry. And yeah, you guessed it—you can make it with a recipe in The I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook, available now on Amazon.

Also stay tuned for our next reader contest in which you could win your very own copy of Andrea Lynn's I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook! In the meantime, check it out on Facebook and click "like"!

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