How to cope without a kitchen (long)
In September 2008 I moved out of my house as the builder moved in – I stayed with generous friends for several months, until the kitchen company started installing the kitchen – at which point I moved home to oversee this most important part of my house renovation.
The kitchen company I chose was local – they made everything by hand – I got to discuss wood-steaming and other minutia with the carpenters… I thought I was supporting the local economy (my favourite kitchen, from a National Name, would have been made overseas and shipped in).
Then the lovely local kitchen company went bust – and in early February I found myself sleeping on a mattress on the floor (most of my possessions went into storage at the start of the project) with a fridge, a microwave and a kettle for company. The new fabulous all-singing all-dancing kitchen amounted to some half installed units, a pile of half finished cabinets and a bag of drawer runners.
So – what to eat?
I do not eat meat, and don’t eat fish regularly – so my main concern was protein. Having been used to cooking pulses and wholegrains from scratch, I found myself relying on couscous and canned pulses. After all, couscous – the instant variety – was only a boiled kettle away from a balanced meal, with a can of chickpeas thrown in. After a month I became heartily sick of ordinary couscous – and then I discovered barley couscous, which has a lovely nuttiness about it. OK, it is 4 times the price, but 10 times the enjoyment – so a bargain.
But rice – how to live without rice? (yes I know one can cook rice in a microwave, but I work a long day at the office and have only a small wash-room sink to clean up in, so time and space are of the essence). I discovered the joys of the ‘packet food’ aisle in the supermarket. I never knew it existed! I must have always bypassed it previously unconsciously, knowing there was nothing of interest there. But now I find Pataks microwavable rice in a bag. In a range of tasty flavours, as I’m sure the advertising attests to (I have no TV so I have no idea if it is advertised at all). The huge plus in this product is that they had varieties that include pulses (so protein heavy) – and I recognise the names of all the ingredients as things I would cook with. Now, I’ve no idea if they are available internationally, but I give a big 4 out of 5 to this product. (It would be 5/5 but it is very pricy).
Then I discovered bags of cooked ‘Mediterranean’ vegetables in olive oil’ in a well-known UK frozen food shop. (if you are in the UK you know who I mean). And nuts, of course, toast perfectly in the microwave. A whole host of nut based meals beckon….
But I miss things – I miss fried eggs. I miss toast. (I refuse to purchase new equipment that I will not use once the kitchen is finished – so no toaster).
What have leaned? Barley couscous is wonderful. The ‘nuke a packet’ aisle actually has something to offer. Stir fries can just as well be nuked with no oil.
And gin is a great healer.
Today – only 11 weeks after the kitchen company went bust – a workman from the company the insurers appointed to finish the work (I made sure the contract was insured) came to figure out what goes where.
I may be able to fry an egg by Christmas.
Oh, for a fried egg sandwich,…
Personally, I would break down and buy an electric frying pan. This one appliance opens up the world of sauces, eggs, pancakes, stir-fry [kind of], soups, and grains. They are extremely reasonable. And my parents, who do have a kitchen, use theirs at least three times a week since it uses less energy than their lovely 64" Garland range.
Oh, you could also make english muffins, crumpets, naan and other flat breads. I don't think scones will do well in an electric skillet, but I bet you could create something that is toast-like.