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Hotel Room Cooking Revisited

Every year we go to a weekend event at a hotel conference center. There are many restaurants in the area, but due to our responsibilities, leaving the facility would complicate things. We considered eating at the hotel restaurant, but they recently renovated from casual to entrees starting at $35 with things i wont eat such as fah-fah-fah foie gras.

We're staying in a regular room at the hotel without any cooking facilities. Since we traveled by car, we packed a toaster and a rice cooker. I planned on using a cooler to store perishables, and as a backup, the trunk of the car, since we are in temperatures well below freezing at this time of year. As it happens, the hotel rents refrigerators for their regular rooms. It was $10 for the entire weekend, well worth it for the convenience.

Breakfasts were simple: toast, fruit and coffee. Lunches and snacks were no cook: cheese, crackers, rotisserie chicken, olives, canned dolmas, stuffed eggplant, and other antipasto type things. For dinners: Thai Coconut Chicken Curry Noodles and Lentils & Rice.

Curry Noodles
whole breast from a rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 C or so sliced carrots
1 can coconut milk + 1/2 can water
T or so of Thai Basil Garlic condiment
1 box frozen peas.
2 bundles of rice stick vermicelli

Place everything but peas and rice stick in rice cooker and push the switch. When the carrots are tender, add the peas. When it comes back to a boil add the rice stick, and push it down to submerge. If necessary, add a bit more water. Return it to a boil for a couple of minutes then turn off the cooker. Let stand a couple of minutes, and voila. In retrospect some sliced lime would have been a nice finishing touch.

Lentils & Rice
1 C lentils
1/2 C rice
1 t basil
1 t garlic powder
1 T bouillion powder
2 C sliced carrots
3 C water
1 T olive oil (use oil from the dolma can or olive container if you forget or don't want to pack it)
parmigiana cheese

Place all dry ingredients in a ziploc bag before you leave home. Put everything but the cheese in the rice cooker, and push the switch. in 20 minutes or it will be finished cooking. Serve with parmigiana cheese.

We were able to have relaxing meals that were satifying and faster than room service. And there is the added bonus of saving a great deal of money. Next year we'll do this again, maybe i'll make & freeze some waffles for the toaster!

Please post your ideas!

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  1. I usually pack a couple of homemade strombolis (pizza dough stuffed with ham, salami, pepperoni, olve salad and cheese) - double wrap in foil and put into a freezer bag - keeps 2 or 3 days in the cooler or fridge, and is as good hot as cold.

    1. Why not take a toaster oven and a single burner electric stove ($15-20) instead of the toaster and rice cooker to increase your options?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        My husband will be happy to hear your suggestion! He has been wanting a tabletop burner for making nabemono at home. It would definitely increase our options.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I think the toaster oven would have been a good idea but a burner would need something to cook in (saucepan, etc.) which means more stuff to carry and more things to clean.

          1. re: ChristDriven

            My wife grew up traveling with her Mama's electric skillet. Makes anything from toast to stew, and the non-stick surface is easy to clean.

        2. I have been doing this forever using a cooler (that plugs into the car and converts to electricity for the hotel) and gas casette plus the hotel microwave, when available. I have a plastic storage bin always packed w/ Corning Ware pot (that fits into the microwave) and 10" skillet, a couple of knives, serving spoon, spices (held in a plastic stacking fishing lure box), rice & pasta, jar of tomatoes, etc. We pick up fresh produce along the way when possible. My biggest problem has been super-sensitive smoke alarms so then my DH has towel-waving duty while I cook.

          Last summer we were on the road for six weeks and did this coast-to-coast plus Canada, enjoying ourselves greatly. We drive an SUV and stay in motels so nothing is out of the ordinary except missing on the plethora of chain resto meals. When we're in a place that offers wonderful dining opportunities, we eat out. Otherwise it is a snap to make really good beef stroganoff in the room. Wonderful pastas are probably our favorite "go-to" choice because of the easy elasticity of using whatever looks the best that day. If I remember to cook additional pasta, I'll make a salad that we'll have for a picnic the next day on the road.

          One of my favorite meals last summer was fresh corn, fresh tomatoes and scallops. We ate fresh raspberries for dessert with a Beaumes-de-Venise. I think (minus the wine) the cost was under $10 for this feast.

          I have never rented a refrigerator in a hotel, I just ask them for one and it has always been provided. Calling the kitchen has saved my neck more than once also. I've bought butter & eggs when I ran low; the room service waiter was very curious about why someone wanted eight raw eggs ........ They've even offered cookware and also included single serving size condiments. Mostly, they're amused and quite supportive.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            excellent. You have it down to a science!

            1. re: Sherri

              Stunning Sherri. You reminded me of Alton Brown when you mentioned the fishing lure box. I'm frugal and hearing your planning provides plenty of possibilities is quite encouraging.

              It's amazing what people are willing to give you if you just simply ask.

            2. A few years back we spent a week in Hatteras on the Outer Banks. A bit of research had us prepared for a mostly mediocre restaurant scene, but we new that the hotel we were staying at was located maybe a hundred feet from one of the best fish mongers in the Southeast, Risky Business. So we brought a Coleman propane burner with us, along with a bunch of pans and utensils and such. The hotel room had a refrigerator, so we were set.

              The fish was astoundingly fresh, just hours out of the water, my preparations were simple and straightforward, and we ate some of the best meals of our lives in that little hotel room. Hotel cookery can be a very good thing.

              1 Reply
              1. A crock pot is always handy too in situations like a hotel room... dump all ingredients in pot- turn on and leave.