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Aggie Family Pack
A site for the families of UC Davis freshmen

May 2008

Briefly speaking: A little taste of home

Photo: Joan Heylman

Joan Heylman frequently bakes cookies for her son Scott, a UC Davis freshman, and the Aggie baseball team. (Mike Heylman)

As a mother of two boys and their little league baseball teams, Joan Heylman of San Diego learned years ago to quadruple her snickerdoodle recipe and make big cookies.

Even so, she might be surprised at how many of the cookies were served at UC Davis one day last month: about 375 dozen or 4,500.

Heylman's snickerdoodle recipe is one of about 30 recipes submitted by students' families and adapted for service in the dining halls where about 5,000 students eat daily. The program, called "Favorites from Home," is a 25-year-old tradition at UC Davis.

"It allows us to introduce foods that come from home and are favorites of students living with us," said Linda Adams, a registered dietitian with Sodexo, which operates Dining Services at UC Davis. "It adds diversity to our menu as we enter spring and the residents have been here for six months already."

Testing the recipes

Dining Services solicits recipes from families in the fall, and typically receives 150 to 200 submissions. Adams and Andy Burtis, the director of culinary services, review the entries with an eye toward taste, appropriateness to the dining service and the kitchen's ability to actually make the recipes.

"It can be difficult to scale recipes, especially the spices," Adams said. "We put the recipes through a test prior to accepting them. At that point, we look at how easy it will be to scale them."

Sodexo tests 45 to 50 of the recipes and selects about 30 to serve in the spring quarter. Among those tasty treats on the menu this spring are Pasta with Blue Cheese, Ricky's Lemon-Pepper Broccoli, Butternut Squash and Peanut Soup, Comforting Cobbler, Cranberry Soy Chicken Strips and Monkey Bread. The number of servings prepared varies from 200 to 4,000, depending on the anticipated popularity of the dish.

"Students seem to enjoy it, but the parents seem to enjoy it more!" Adams said. "Sometimes we'll even have winning families come to campus to sample their dish."

Photo: Scot Heylman and friends

Scot Heylman, center, and friends sample the UC Davis cookies made from his mother's recipe. From left to right, the friends are Dan Cepin, Marie Lee, TJ Copple and Grant Bauer. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

'A special bond'

Scott Heylman, who is majoring in managerial economics and plays shortstop on the UC Davis baseball team, recently enjoyed his mom's snickerdoodles at the Oxford Circle dining hall.

"My mom's been making them since I was a kid," he said. "All my friends like them."

The freshman and his mother used to make the cookies together. "Scott loves my cookies," said Heylman, who is a health teacher at The Bishop's School in La Jolla. "We have a special bond through those cookies."

Heylman said her recipe is from a Pillsbury cookbook, but the secret may be in the baking. "You can't overcook them," Heylman said. "They need to be soft and chewy, not hard."

Her recipe for five dozen snickerdoodles calls for modest amounts of the main ingredients: 1 cup butter-flavor shortening, 1 ½ cups sugar, two eggs and 2 ¾ cups flour. But translated to a recipe for 4,500 cookies, the quantities change to one gallon of butter, eight pounds of shortening, three gallons of sugar, 64 eggs and 5 ½ gallons of flour.

Favorites from Home are published on the Dining Services Web site and identified as such when they're served. Students associated with Favorites from Home recipes receive gift certificates for lunch for two at the Silo Cafe and Pub on campus.

Adams said that several "Favorites" recipes, including pumpkin bars and Aztec chicken, have become regulars on the dining hall menus.

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