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A Chowhound's Nightmare

  • c

Reading the thread on cooking smaller quantities of food and the problems therein, I wonder if anyone could help me with a related problem. I am sadly kitchenless--I have a hot plate, toaster oven and mini refrigerator with no freezer. I do, however, love to cook--and am afraid I will actually forget how! I have just about reached the limit of what I can do with omelets and salads. Does anyone have any ideas for recipes that:

can be cooked on a hot plate
are small enough to fit in a toaster oven
do not require freezing at any point
and are chowhound-worthily delicious

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

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  1. c
    Caitlin Wheeler

    Laurie Colwin's book Home Cooking has a chapter about living in an apartment with a kitchen much as you describe. She said she relied on soups and stews, and eggplant sauteed with red peppers.

    1. Reminds me of when I was in a dorm in college with only a popcorn popper that could also be used to heat up soups, stew, chili. Talk about life at the gut level.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mc michael

        Soon after my sister and I left home for college, my mother built and moved into a new house. Having hated cooking for years, she announced that she was not going to have an oven or stove in her home because "it ruined the aesthetic design of the kitchen"!

        During our visits home and during the holidays, my sister and I cooked on a hot plate with two burners and a plug in "stove" which was fairly ineffective. The answer was soups, stews, and sauces. Roasts can be braised in wine, with a fantastic result!

        Of course, a good nearby bakery can't hurt either!

        (By the way, my mother has since given in and has a fully functional kitchen, even though she still hates cooking!)

      2. Adding a crockpot to your "kitchen" will certainly expand your repetoire and not take up too much space.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowbabe

          Likewise the oft-praised Foreman grill...

        2. Get a wok. Keep in mind that most Cantonese cooking has its origin with limited stoves...in fact, many junks in Canton harbor have an old modified gas can for a stove. The variety is almost endless...of course, you must like Chinese food.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jim H.
            j
            Janet A. Zimmerman

            The wok might not be such a great idea, given the low heat generated by many hotplates.

            1. re: Janet A. Zimmerman
              w
              Wendy Leonard

              I'd go with the crockpot or possibly a rice cooker. I just spent a month without a stove and what I used was the crockpot. I also had a plug-in burner, a pretty good one, and it would never have been hot enough for wok cooking. One alternative to a crockpot might be a rice cooker. There's a new cookbook out, The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook and it has tons of recipes, including applesauce, desserts, dishes like steak and sweet potatoes, as well as a huge variety of rice dishes. Looks promising!

              1. re: Wendy Leonard

                What about an electric Wok? Then you wouldn't have to rely on the hotplate to heat it up.

                1. re: LisaLou

                  I wonder how many outlets CC has?

                  1. re: Bill

                    hee hee I was actually wondering the same thing. One can always buy a power strip, though.

                    1. re: LisaLou

                      Luckily I have 3 outlets--one for the fridge and 2 that are constantly being juggled between the hot plate, toaster oven, electic kettle and coffee grinder. The annoying thing is when I unplug the toaster oven to do something else, and then try to make something in it and wonder why my food isn't cooking after 10 minutes!

          2. The wok suggestion is a great idea. What about getting a food processor like a Cuisinart? You can get the ultra small version if space is at a premium. With this, you can make two things that I am particularly fond of:

            Pesto: no cooking needed for the pesto sauce, except to toast the pine nuts in your toaster oven or in a fry pan on your hotplate. You should wash the basil (you do have a sink, don't you?) and you can boil the pasta water on your hotplate. Vary the dish by substituting other things for basil if you want, but I've always liked the original recipe the best.

            Another good thing to make with your newly acquired food processor: humus. Cook the chickpeas on your hotplate (make SURE they are soft all the way through) then add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and blend in food processor (I like my humus soupy, so I add ALOT of water as well). You could make a larger meal out of it by making falefal on your hotplate using one of those mixes sold in the supermarket.

            You really have a fairly large capacity for cooking if you are willing to try, and it will keep you from getting hungry as you look for a new apartment.....