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how to cook in studio apartment without using stove

Welp, my apartment kitchen (studio/1 bedroom) is nowhere near a window, and somewhat close to my closet (smelling up all of my clothes like the bacon, steak, eggs, onions, that I cook with). it's gotten to the point where I don't want to cook anymore unless it's in the oven, my cast iron, carbon steel, and nonstick all smoke. Braising meat doesn't help, as it smells up everything as well. Even when on the pans, I just sear my meat for rare/med-rare, which still smokes everything to the point where I can visible see the smoke all in my apartment.

Any tips on how to cook steaks and chicken in the oven somewhat quickly? Have no experience doing this or broiling.

I cook 3-4 times a day with fresh chicken or steak or bacon. I'd rather not have to wait one hour to cook tender chicken each time I am hungry. Also, I hate having to cook meat that has been cooked previously, since it always seems to be rough. But not sure what I can do with my options here?


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    1. re: bbqboy

      I dont think it matters what I use, since no matter what pan I use in open air it'll smoke. I'm trying to revert all my cooking to the oven and essentially forget I even have an electric range other than for eggs.

    2. Is there a vent somewhere in your kitchen? I lived in a studio for several years that also had a windowless kitchen. There was a vent that was supposed to keep things aired out, which didn't work very well 'til the building management sent someone in to clean it. This involved an enormous vacuum and a lot of noise, but matters improved afterwards. My cat was traumatized, though.

      You can also try opening a window and your front door while you cook, which should give you a nice flow-through and also make all your neighbors hate you.

      If all else fails, educate yourself about sous vide cooking. I bet that doesn't stink at all.

      4 Replies
      1. re: small h

        there is zero ventilation. zero. I guess i do have windows, but they don't help much as they're 15-20 feet from the kitchen.

        to imagine, picture pan searing a thinner steak on a cast iron or carbon steel pan for a few minutes in your bedroom. that's how annoying it is.

        1. re: theromanone

          That is a quandary. Is there a way you can protect your clothes with garment bags or something similar? You might also get a window fan to suck the smoke out - even if the windows are 15ish feet from the kitchen, it should help.

          1. re: small h

            Maybe I'll look for a solution for the doorway between my kitchen (also the living room) to my closets/bedroom.

            The clothes are in two closets that, even with the doors to the closets closed, have a bit of smell from the smoke. It'd be awkward with cooking next to the windows since I have no room since that's where my couch, tv, table, sound system, etc are.

            It's a cheap place in an awesome location, but this kind of sucks. Been dealing with it for a year and half now, but only been cooking for 4 months.

            1. re: theromanone

              small h's suggestion is on the right track. I've had the same dilemma over the years, and even with ventilation, in a small space like that your clothes (and drapes, and towels, and bed linens...) will pick up cooking odors. The best thing you can do is put odor absorbers inside the closet, and set up a fan near the kitchen - on the counter next to the stove if possible - to direct the odorlicious air toward the window.

              You can cook bacon in the oven, which I happen to like to do. It will create less smoke, but you still get the odors. Same goes for doing steak in a cast iron pan in the oven.

      2. Sous vide is smokeless and can be done with hot tap water and a cooler. Really. Fish cook at ~120 degrees. Med rare steak is ~135.

        1. I've never had luck with quick cooking inside the oven (and am, honestly, sort of scared of the broiler) but can you maybe set up a sort of satellite kitchen right next to the window? There are some great hot plates available now.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Violatp

            Does your bathroom have a fan, perhaps it would help to pull some of the smells out? What about poaching as well? That should be low odour too. I cook in our oven all the time, fish & steaks under the broiler, I wouldn't attempt chicken that way though. Also a slow cooker would work for your braising, you can also braise in the oven.

          2. I was in a similar situation as yours not too long ago while away from home. I resorted to using a splatter screen and two layers of paper towel on top. I still made sure all the closet doors were closed though. Obviously you'd have to adjust cooking time and temperature accordingly because the pan is now covered.

            There's still aroma of food in the air, but the smell on clothes have drastically reduced. The air also cleared out much quicker after I'm done cooking.

            Hope that helps!

            1 Reply
            1. re: cutipie721

              covering maybe would help.. the thing is theres nothing above the oven but the ceiling.

              Also, the bathroom has no fan. It's really bad!

            2. There is an excellent little paperback cookbook called "Cooking in a Bedsitter" by Katharine Whitehorn ("bed sitter" is what English people call a studio apartment). She gives tons of suggestions on how to cook even if you have no stove, no refrigerator, no running water, and no landlord's permission. I just now checked and amazon.com has used copies of the book for as little as 99 cents plus shipping.

              Meanwhile, the easiest way to cook chicken in your oven is to put boneless skinless chicken breasts in a baking dish, pour a can of Campbell's Gravy or Campbell's Cream of Chicken (or Mushroom) soup over, and bake uncovered for an hour at 350*. The chicken juice mixes with the Campbell's to make a tasty gravy. If you put a whole potato in the oven at the same time you pretty much have your dinner ready. Cooking meat in frying pans makes spattery grease and smells---you are smart to consider the oven. Another oven way of cooking chicken is to put the raw pieces in a baking dish, sprinkle them very generously on both sides with soy sauce and garlic powder, pour a can of crushed pineapple over, and bake at 350* for an hour. This is good with rice. The Uncle Ben's packets cook in a few minutes in the microwave or boil in the bag rice is easy to do if you have a saucepan. A third way is to wrap boneless skinless chicken breasts in a strip or two of bacon, place in a baking dish, and bake for an hour at 350*. (Since boneless skinless chicken breasts have no skin protecting the meat, they will dry out in the oven, which is why you use some kind of sauce or covering to keep them moist.)

              If you want chicken to be handy when you're hungry, try buying a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket and keep it in your refrigerator; it will be good for several days.

              You might want to consider buying a small slow cooker (Crock Pot) as it will cook all kinds of good meat dishes for you without making a mess. It's especially good for stew-y things like Beef Burgundy, Beef Stew, Beef & Onions cooked in beer, Beef or Chicken Curry, African Chicken, etc. You do NOT have to sear the meat, either.

              I give you credit for learning to cook and not just eating out all the time---you're making a home for yourself.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                Wow, thanks!

                I'm paleo so dont eat any wheat/gluten, but I could definitely cook chicken that way. Guess I'll just have to cook chicken daily and not too much at once, so that anything I refrigerate will only be in there one day so it's not too rough.

                1. re: Querencia

                  You are correct that you don't *have* to sear meats before using them in slow cooker recipes but for most dishes, the results will be inferior as you are steaming/simmering it and get no Maillard reaction unless the meat is propped above the liquid.

                  Try a combination of a fan near the stove, aimed in the direction of an open window, and another fan in that window, set to blow toward the outside.

                  For non-oven cooking, I suggest employing a modified stir-fry technique. E.g.: if you want medium-rare steak, instead of broiling or pan-searing a slab of beef, slice or cube it into bite-sized pieces and stir it in a hot pan. It will cook, complete with external sear and internal pinkness, in under a minute. Take the pan off-heat and let the meat rest there for a few minutes. Prepping meat, vegetables, and fruits into small pieces before cooking is a strategy used in cultures where fuel is expensive and/or in short supply. So it's cost-effective, environmentally responsible, and also makes overall meal prep time faster.

                  1. I knew someone who had to stop cooking on the stovetop because she cooked meat at every meal, and really didn't know how to cook. EVERYTHING was cooked in a pan that had been heated to an extreme degree.

                    She had to learn to cook all over again when she had a guy move in with her who couldn't stand the way her "cooking" made the house smell.

                    She gave up high temperature pan-frying and other acts of "meat burning" (I was friends w/the boyfriend, in case that's not immediately apparent). She started buying those rotisserie chickens at the store.

                    She learned to make things like sandwiches, only she wouldn't eat the bread or the cheese (she had medical reasons, beyond allergy, for eating meat at every meal).

                    She ate more fruits and veg.

                    I showed her how to poach fish and chicken, but I don't know if that took. She was not a particularly willing student.

                    I think they're still together, so I guess they worked something out. All I really know for sure is she stopped cooking meat the way she had been cooking it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Jay F

                      I've tried to cook meat slow, and it still burns. Even chicken. It is impossible to not have a layer of smoke when cooking, with either my cast iron, carbon steel, or nonstick.

                      With beef/steak, its tough since unless i pan sear both sides i cant really get it to the rare/med rare i like it and taste decent (at least not on the stove).

                      One solution, is to buy those beef or chicken strips and just eat those.. those tyson things? just warming them up shouldn't cause too many issues.

                      1. re: theromanone

                        Don't do those. They are laden with sodium and other not so good for you stuff.

                        I've found that a boneless skinless chicken breast only needs about 20-25 min in the oven at 400 to cook. Season it with whatever you like and throw it on a baking sheet. I often do a few at a time to use in other dishes on another day.

                        For beef, what about doing roasts vs steaks? I've done tri tip and tenderloin roasts in the oven without searing and had pretty good results.

                        The bacon in the oven suggestion is a good one too.

                    2. Even cooking in an oven or crockpot of Foreman grill or any other way that heats food is going to create odors (even if it doesn't create smoke.) Looking into some kind of an air cleaner might be a more practical idea than changing everything about the way you cook and eat.

                      1. I'd get a better enclosure for my clothes, and a fan that sucks air *out the window* -- not just blows air towards the window. (Any fan will do this if you point it out the the window, and have cross ventilation (two windows or a window and door open.) I'd get a good strong fan, not just a little personal breeze-coaxing thing. I'd plan my cooking so I could do it quickly.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: blue room

                          What about just getting a door between the kitchen and my bedroom/closet? Shouldn't that cut it down a bit?

                        2. How about you get a little table, an extension cord, and a small Foreman grill or knockoff, and cook directly in front of the open window? If you need even more help, sit a fan in front of the grill to blow the smoke out the window. A cyclone fan (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_sca...) will do the job in no time. You could probably simulate an electric grill by cutting or pounding your meat into pieces that are 1/4" thick or less, heating a heavy cast iron pan in the oven until screaming hot and searing the meat on both sides in front of the window. But if you cook meat multiple times a day, it's well worth shelling out the 10 or 15 bucks for the electric grill. Make or buy a stovetop cover (http://www.amazon.com/Camco-43554-Bla...) to turn your stove into usable space. Just be sure that you remove it when you use the oven, unless yours doesn't vent through a burner.

                          1. If you can open a window how about setting up an exhaust fan in it. Honestly if it was me I'd set up a table underneath a window. Cover it with a cheap plastic table cloth. Buy a good quality electric fry pan. Get an exhaust fan for the window. Actually I'd buy a small propane two burner camp stove. But that's just me. My wife and I 'camped' in motel rooms without a kitchenette using a propane camp stove for years back and forth across Canada. We always made sure to choose a upper floor room with a balcony looking out on an empty field and a full size sliding glass door. Over time we had a list of these motels. Never got caught. Never burned up a motel. "We're very light sleepers and we must leave early in the morning. Could we have a room as far away as your other guests as possible?". (Flash of pretty eyes) We also always travelled in the early spring or late fall to avoid the crowded motels. LOL

                            1. You can get a non-vented range hood (also called ductless or recirculating). It sucks in the air and passes it through charcoal filters which would capture the smells and grease. Don't know how well they work though. Check Home Depot or similar.

                              1. If you cook with a slo cooker or a pressure cooker, you aren't using grease. That would eliminate the smell of all that day old grease. And electric cookers can easily be moved around. Right, you won't be frying a steak, but you can make a lot of casseroles, roasts, soups, and desserts in those two tools.