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the wonders of office cooking

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  • drdawn May 11, 2005 08:35 AM
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I'm interested to hear what lengths you go to to cook in the office(not sure if this is home cooking or general topics by the way).

What wonderful things have you done with a microwave and a kettle? Do you keep a mini office pantry? Have an office stash of kitchen gadgets?

I've recently taken to keeping a tub of grits in my drawer--precious commodities that they are here in the middle of nowhere Britain--and microwaving them with some s&p. Rice noodles only require boiled water, so sometimes I bring these along with some fixin's. I find that I let rice balls sit so long that they lose their stickiness (or perhaps I'm a bad rice ball maker??) , but a splash of water and a 30 second nuke solves that problem. And I have an entire drawer devoted to teas of various kinds, mostly from Whittard's. I am going to brew myself some right now, too.

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  1. WE are not real creative here, but do keep a cupboard which allows us to make a quick bite for lunch or snack. Usually have cucumbers, red onions, feta and romaine lettuce on hand. Oil, vinegar, mustard for a quick dressing, and usually have YAsou greek dressing. I usually cook extra chicken or steak when grilling, and this makes a nice topping for the salad. Easy and good llunc. We also have cottage cheese and fruit for a quick snack, as well as peanuts, soy beans and sunflower seeds. For beverages, we have coffee, assorted teas and bottled water. I look forward to other posts, and maybe can expand our pantry a bit.

    4 Replies
    1. re: macca

      One summer, I lived in a dormitory that had no communal kitchens. Since it was summer, there was no cafeteria meal plan, either. I got pretty good with cooking in the microwave. I ate a LOT of salad, but also:

      -steamed rice
      -steamed vegetables
      -instant curry
      -Japanese-style steamed eggs
      -hard boiled eggs
      -oatmeal/grits/cream of wheat, etc.
      -various marinated meats, smaller pieces work better

      I believe there's a microwave cookbook out there somewhere, but know nothing about the quality of its recipes.

      Do you have a toaster oven in your office? That would open up a whole world of possibilities.

      1. re: nooodles

        We don't have a toaster oven, but it probably is a good investment. We do have a blender. Go figure. We do keep oatmeal and cereal on hand. I like the idea of rice and curry- although two of us have some sugar level issues, so we have to be careful. I forgot to add that we usually have a nice selection of wines on hand for those Friday afternoon lunches ( I guess we could choose- rice or wine!). One of the perks of working is a small office!!

        1. re: macca

          We have always had an office that had a small kitchen or room to make one as well as an office where we could bring our dogs to work. For many years we used a condo as an office and our assistant who had previously been a caterer to rock bands, used to make lunch every day - for a while it was Paul Prudhomme's specialities but every day was a new feast, unbelievable. We always kept a liquor cabinet too so that we could celebrate wins, big and small.

        2. re: nooodles

          How did you do the Japanese eggs? I have never had them...

      2. I keep a brita filter/pitcher by my desk, so that I always have clean-tasting water when I eat in, plus a drawer full of teas and a few packets of miso soup. easy to make w/ Trader Joe's frozen brown rice -- 3 min in the microwave.

        1. We have a toaster oven, a regular toaster, and a microwave. I'm not a microwaver, but I feel a toaster oven is essential for an office. What I make most regularly is roasted bananas. I keep a little mini sheet pan and a couple of different cinnamons in my office. I use the bananas that have enough brown spots on them that no one wants to eat them. I split them in half, then halve the pieces lengthwise, placing them cut side up on the pan (oddly, we don't have a real sink, only the bathroom sinks, so for easy clean up I usually use a piece of foil under the bananas), sprinkle them liberally with the cinnamon (Ceylon at the moment) and one packet of turbinado sugar. I use the broiler function and leave them in until the sugar starts to bubble. If the bananas are at the perfect stage of ripeness, they become soft, and the sugar/cinnamon makes a nice little crust similar to that on a creme brulee.

          The aroma draws people from way down the hallway.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LT from LF

            I second your suggestion to have a toaster at the office. Even non-cookers can manage a piece of toast, and if you have a refrigerator where you can keep butter, cheese spread, peanut butter etc you can put together something substantial enough to keep you going if you have to work through dinnertime, even if you don't have a microwave.

            1. re: N Tocus

              I've never worked in an office that allowed toasters (except the one job that was in a residential apartment, which had a full kitchen and a bathtub int the bathroom). The usual reasoning is that smoke alarms are sensitive, toast can burn, and so on. For the same reason, never seen a toaster oven. Just microwave.

              As a result, I never really cook at the office. I use to steam vegetables in the microwave, but I heard people complaining about the smell of broccoli, so I stopped. Now I just reheat leftovers.

          2. I keep an array of dried fruit in my drawer, both for oatmeal (which is stocked by my employer) and for making tzimmes in the microwave if I'm working late. We also have popcorn, and if you add a little sugar or artificial sweetener to it after it pops while it's still burning hot, it creates something that tastes vaguely of caramel corn.

            I've also brought in vegetables and made soup, I've brought in tortillas and grated cheese and roasted chiles and made quesadillas con rajas, and now that we have a toaster oven I've started eating mochi cakes with red bean paste.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              I do the same with popcorn and sugar at my office. A little extra salt and sugar makes something more akin to kettle corn: a salty, sweet specialty of carnivals in the U.S.

              1. re: elmomonster

                That's what I meant, kettle corn, not caramel corn. Sorry. Brain's been in financials-and-spreadsheet land, which is not a happy place for a tech.

            2. I sometimes take some fresh pizza dough in from my local Italian deli and either make a pizza or calzone.

              1. I once worked for a small company that had a fully-equipped kitchen--a four-burner range, two sinks, a microwave, a refrigerator/freezer, and a toaster. If you looked into the fridge and pantries, you'd think you were in a family home rather than an office--there were always cartons of eggs, vegetables, bottled sauces, dry pasta and herbs, etc. about, along with office staples like coffee and instant oatmeal. None of us cooked very creatively there, just pasta, salads, boiled/scrambled eggs and the occasional stir-fry. People there worked long hours and seemed to like healthy comfort foods to keep them going.

                The best days were Wednesdays, when a humongous farmers' market (one favored by a lot of high-end chefs) would set up right around the block from us . I'd spend my Wednesday lunch breaks at the market buying stuff to take home for the rest of the week. Sometimes I'd make sandwiches with bread and cheese from the market for lunch. A couple of other people in the office liked to buy fresh flowers at the market, which they arranged in the kitchen. "A Year In Provence" meets "Dilbert"!

                All of this made us a very attractive target for a hostile takeover, which we ultimately became. Alas!

                1. LOL! Great post...

                  I bring my lunch everyday. We have a microwave and toaster oven. Pretty good for heating anything up and I do take the time to pack everything properly, so I get to eat wonderful salads, sandwiches and other easily put together items.

                  One day, I forgot my lunch and quite upset!! I didn't want to go out, so instead I peeked in to see what I had left over... Just a carton of grape tomatoes, some mexican cheese. We had pats of real butter left over from a catered breakfast and flour tortillas left over from a catered lunch.

                  I sliced up the tomatoes and placed them in the toaster oven, until they were all soft and warm, I placed the crumbed cheese on top and then sprinked with a bit of salt and pepper and mixed together. I heated up the Tortillas in the microwave and smeared butter on them... and then rolled up some of the tomatoes and made Tomato Burritos.. Yes, PRETTY sad, but honestly, it was the best lunch of the week! :D

                  --Dommy!

                  1. As someone has already mentioned, I love to steam vegetables in the microwave- my favorites were thin sliced zucchini & squash w/ grated carrots, green beans, and plain ol' spinach. I'd just pack it in a pyrex container w/ a microwave-safe lid, and it would be set to go straight from the fridge. Sometimes I would add in a little butter, but often just S&P was good enough for me. Reminded me how good simple veggies can be.

                    1. The content of my work pantry are as follows:
                      Oatmeal
                      Wheatabix
                      Several different types of trail mixes (which I either eat on their own, or dice and then throw into my oatmeal)
                      Sunflower seeds
                      Instant grits
                      Chicken Bullion
                      Peanut Butter
                      Cup O Noodles (for those desperation lunches)

                      In the fridge/freezer
                      yogurt (for the wheatabix)
                      bread
                      opened jar of peanut butter
                      sugar snap peas
                      baby carrots
                      whatever I've made for lunch this week, in this case brown rice + broccoli + buffalo chili

                      Thankfully, we don't have any anonymous food moochers on our floor.