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My summer cooking challenge. All suggestions welcome!

pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 08:58 AM

We are renovating our condo this summer which is going to require us to move out for approximately six weeks. We have made a reservation at a long term hotel. The kitchen consists of a full size fridge, sink, microwave, and two stovetop burners. There are also gas grills available.

I would appreciate some of your thoughts and suggestions on meals to plan. I do most of my cooking now in the oven or on the grill.

Also, I'm starting to pack up my kitchen (everything will go to storage during construction). What would you take with you under these circumstances? Obviously, skillets, plates, utensils. But, would you consider taking a dutch oven, pressure cooker, slow cooker, food processor? I don't want to go overboard, but I also don't want to end up cooking convenience foods.

Unfortunately, we can't just rent a beach house and call it a day! We're stuck in the daily grind of work and life in the Southwest summer!

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful suggestions

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  1. pinehurst RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 09:19 AM

    Wow, first of all, you have a great HOA to allow a 6 week reno!

    This thread might help you:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875030

    It's about using an even more sparsely equipped hotel room. I would not take a crockpot if I had access to a grill. That, and rotisserie chickens, should be your friend re meat-based meals.

    6 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst
      MGZ RE: pinehurst May 30, 2013 10:31 AM

      What's an HOA?

      1. re: MGZ
        byrd RE: MGZ May 30, 2013 10:34 AM

        homeowners association

        1. re: MGZ
          i
          INDIANRIVERFL RE: MGZ May 30, 2013 10:35 AM

          Says the Realtor, 'Home Owners Association."

          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
            MGZ RE: INDIANRIVERFL May 30, 2013 10:42 AM

            Duh! I thought it was kinda like a "DH" given the context of pinehurst's comments.

            There are HOAs that wouldn't allow a 6 week renovation? Terrible.

            1. re: MGZ
              pinehurst RE: MGZ May 30, 2013 10:51 AM

              Yes...not to threadjack. Some HOA's will just say "Don't touch a weight-bearing wall." But most will have all sorts of caveats about not disturbing the neighbors, types of flooring you can/can't do, making sure that all of the units are comparable in layout (and thus pricepoint) to each other, etc.

              As for what to take utensil wise, super ideas here. I'd definitely take my favorite pots/pans.

              1. re: pinehurst
                MGZ RE: pinehurst May 30, 2013 10:56 AM

                Thanks.

                And, for what it's worth, there's one rule I have always maintained - "Have knife, will travel."

      2. juliejulez RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 09:27 AM

        I don't think I'd take the extra appliances. I can't think of anything I would do with a food processor that I couldn't do by hand, except for maybe making pesto (yes I know you can do it by hand but what a pain), but if it's just 6 weeks, and if you really needed pesto, store bought would be fine. I don't even own a pressure cooker, and I've used my small slow cooker one time ever, so I wouldn't bring those.

        I would make sure you bring enough cooking utensils... spatulas, spoons, tongs. Also think about what you really think you'll want to cook. Would you need stuff like a microplane and a cheese grater? Take those if you think you would.

        I would also bring my big wood cutting board, and at least one plastic one. And a dish drainer. There might be one there, but it's probably pretty small.

        Also, kitchen towels, Ziploc bags and food storage containers.

        2 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez
          juliejulez RE: juliejulez May 30, 2013 09:37 AM

          Oh also mixing bowls.

          1. re: juliejulez
            c
            ChervilGeorge RE: juliejulez May 30, 2013 09:43 AM

            Definitely if they aren't supplied. Also little prep bowls and storage containers for leftovers.

        2. boyzoma RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 09:27 AM

          I agree with pinehurst on your luck, however I would definitely take a slow cooker. Between a grill and that, you can eat well for a long time. You might like this link: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

          1. tcamp RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 09:29 AM

            I'd definitely take a salad spinner and anything you might need to steam veggies. I like the idea of salads, augmented with beans, rotisserie chicken, tuna, etc.

            I'd probably skip the food processor. I use my pressure cooker regularly for beans so I'd consider taking that. Slow cooker, no, since I tend to use that mainly in the winter. Take your favorite omelet pan since odds are the one in the unit will be scratched/icky.

            When I had a similar, shorter duration, kitchen exile, I found that my mini Forman grill was great for quesadillas, quick grilled veggies for salad, and chicken breasts when you don't feel like trekking to the gas grill.

            1. c
              ChervilGeorge RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 09:41 AM

              I was in a long term hotel with a similar set up for 5 weeks. It had the basics but I brought along my chef knife, a wood cutting board, my favourite wooden spoon, microplane and cheese grater. What I wished I had brought along was my good sauté pan, a steamer basket and my immersion blender. I would have murdered for a toaster oven.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChervilGeorge
                h
                HillJ RE: ChervilGeorge May 30, 2013 09:56 AM

                Toaster oven fires are usually why rentals stay away from offering or allowing them.

                When we had our kitchen remodeled we moved out 3 months to a bungalow (NJ summer) and it was so hot we didn't eat anything more than fresh produce, cold prepared foods and cocktails. We wound up eating out a good deal more than I anticipated and the minute we got home all I did was use that new oven!!

                Good luck pagein!

              2. b
                baseballfan RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 10:00 AM

                I had a similar situation last year when we were moving to a new area and had a six week interval between the sale of one home and the closing of the new home.

                We were in a Residence Inn that was fairly well equipped. That being said, it was lacking in a few areas. Definitely bring knives since what they provide is basically not usable. Also a couple of your favorite skillets. I also brought one good baking sheet. Extra kitchen towels are a must. You will also need a couple of storage containers for leftovers as well as a mixing bowl. You might also want a couple of grill tools if you will have access to a grill. If you are bringing pets, you will need their food bowls.

                Don't make the mistake that I did and bring too much. Those kitchens are quite small with limited storage space. We had to use the shelves in one of the bedroom closets as a pantry.

                I would skip the dutch oven, slow cooker, food processor etc as you will not have the space. I cooked a lot while we were there as we had 5 of us but I tried to keep it simple. No matter your best intentions, it is not like being in your own kitchen and you will soon tire of the confined space. Also, I was used to a gas stove and the hotel one was electric so I did not like that at all.

                One last tip, go over to the hotel prior to your arrival date and ask to see an unoccupied room so that you can determine what is there. It will help you decide what to bring.

                1. q
                  Querencia RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 10:22 AM

                  When I read your situation I immediately related it to our having rented "self-catering holiday homes" many times in Europe. Since I traveled across the ocean I couldn't take any appliances at all but I always took my own potato peeler and a good knife. Next, I was limited to what I found there in the kitchen but two things I hoped to find were a pot big enough to boil potatoes or pasta and a colander to drain pasta. With these I was set to make a big pot of potato salad or of pasta with sauce or any pasta salad--- resources I could draw on repeatedly. Next, a skillet big enough to make pasta sauce, picadillo (which we ate a lot of), or to brown chicken parts or chops (but you will have the grill for that). I see that you have no oven: have also been there, done that. You can make a nifty multi-meal casserole---take your big Corningware---in the microwave alone. In your skillet brown chicken, onion, peppers, mushrooms etc, put in big casserole with packaged chicken stock and raw rice, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave away. Also, I found that I often used boil-in-the-bag rice, something I NEVER use at home. Since you will be in the States, a supermarket rotisseried chicken would be a good resource, and your full-size refrigerator will keep the doings for big chef salads. In summary, I recommend a big pasta pot and colander, a 1 1/2 qt saucepan, a large skillet, lids, and a couple of Corningware casseroles. You actually don't need much. Consider: grilled chicken, fish, or meat with potato salad, pasta, boil-in-bag rice, instant couscous, pasta salads etc that you can make in quantity and keep going back to. Picadillo is thus: brown ground beef, onion, and pepper in olive oil. Add a small can of tomato sauce, two cans of water, a handful of raisins, some stuffed green olives, salt, garlic, and cumin and simmer a few minutes---eat with rice. This was a go-to as all you need is a skillet and one saucepan for the B-in-B rice. You won't be baking but the full fridge will have a freezer compartment so there's always ice cream, and fresh fruit will be in season. You'll do fine.

                  1. weezieduzzit RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 10:40 AM

                    Being only 6 weeks and being summer in the Southwest, I would take as little as possible and take the opportunity to eat as fresh as possible: big salads with grilled meats, simple stir fry with farmers market veggies, etc.

                    Things I DON'T use in the summer are my dutch oven, casserole dishes, pasta pot, and anything that goes in the oven. I only use my crock pot for making stock and I could live without that for 6 weeks if I made a bunch of stock to take ahead of time.

                    1. GretchenS RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 10:42 AM

                      To all these fabulous suggestions I would add tongs (for me my single most indispensible tool, always pack them when I am renting for vacation), pepper grinder and the 2 or 3 spices or seasonings you reach for most often, ice cube trays (because the fridge is unlikely to have a built-in ice maker), and if you make your own salad dressings, whatever you need for that. Oh, and a corkscrew!!! For me I would not bring the electrical appliances but only you know how you cook.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: GretchenS
                        c oliver RE: GretchenS May 30, 2013 05:18 PM

                        I like your suggestions a lot. We do house exchanges and I carry A LOT :) Many spices, oils and vinegars. Good knife, microplane grater. Definitely a corkscrew. Tongs, for sure. And as someone said, ask to see a unit. You may even want wine glasses or other glasses. We each have the size glass we want for the evening cocktail so we carry those with us. I also wouldn't take appliances as they'll take up what is probably precious little space. I'd just look upon it as glorified camping. Don't try to make it like home. Just an adventure.

                      2. q
                        Querencia RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 10:45 AM

                        Now you've got me thinking about you. One- or two-burner meals: 1) Omelets 2) Sauteed mushrooms with scrambled eggs 3) Deli sliced roast beef in a can of beef gravy poured over white bread to make open-faced diner sandwiches 4) Cooked chicken (supermarket) with jar of curry sauce + some frozen peas, with instant coucous. 5) Fake Peking Duck: cooked chicken, flour tortillas, Hoisin sauce, scallions. 6) Stir-fry based on bag of shredded coleslaw cabbage---add anything, leftover meat, frozen shrimp, canned French fried onions etc and season to taste 7) Picadillo (qv) 8) Can of pork & beans really hot poured over hot buttered whole wheat toast with Canadian bacon on top. 9) Tacos. Consider taking your toaster if you like to eat things on toast---sort of stabilizes a meal.

                        1. meatn3 RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 11:08 AM

                          I stayed in similar lodgings for a few months.

                          I did find that their grills were in very high demand. I seldom had access to them when I wanted. I was able to use them at other times and grilled things which I could later reheat or serve cold.

                          " But, would you consider taking a dutch oven, pressure cooker, slow cooker, food processor?" Not unless they are items you routinely use with great frequency.

                          I would bring an immersion blender. Metal cake pans are handy for bringing seasoned food out to the grill. I had an old electric skillet - the type which has a lid too. It was handy for some oven dishes like stuffed peppers.

                          I found that cooking smells lingered in my room so I tended not to cook fish for instance. I made a lot of composed dinner salads, stirfry, pastas and skillet dishes such as piccata, chicken Marsala, etc.

                          It was an interesting challenge and expanded my "quick" recipe collection!

                          1. MidwesternerTT RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 11:33 AM

                            Can you pack those "maybe I'll want it" items in a box that you place last in the storage unit (so you can go get it), or keep in the rental-location closet?

                            Be sure to take your 3 favorite cookbooks & recipe files with you.

                            Take a look at some Dutch Oven cooking recipes and see whether enough appeal to you to make it worth having that.
                            This site has several http://www.scoutorama.com/recipe/

                            RV (or Sailing) Galley cooking sites for suggestions on what equipment to have and recipe ideas. One of each are at these links
                            http://allrecipes.com/howto/the-galle...
                            http://www.saltysailors.com/Galley/re...

                            My favorite microwave potato torte side-dish would go well with any stovetop-prepared meat/fish.

                            In a 2-quart clear glass round casserole, Layer sliced potatoes, olive oil, Italian seasoning (e.g., basil, rosemary,parsley, oregano, salt & pepper), sliced onions, canned (drained) or fresh diced tomatoes, shredded cheese (optional - use parmesean, mozzarella, provolone or some mix of the 3) repeat 3-4 times. Cover & microwave about 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Colorful.

                            1. pagesinthesun RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 11:55 AM

                              I'm already making my list as I read through all of these great suggestions.

                              I will certainly be referring back to this thread when looking for meal ideas.

                              So, please, keep it coming!

                              And, pinehurst, yes my HOA is going along with it. Luckily, we are friendly with our neighbors. We will be bending over backwards to stay within guidelines. One good thing is about 50% of our neighborhood leaves town for the summer.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pagesinthesun
                                MGZ RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 12:19 PM

                                One addendum to my "rule" upthread - Always sharpen the hell outta your knife before you travel with it. Means less other stuff to bring along.

                              2. s
                                SigneGT RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 12:30 PM

                                This almost sounds like my kitchen.

                                I deal with 2 stovetop burners, a microwave and a tiny toaster oven (i can make four cookies at a time. Forget about a whole chicken and stuff like that). 3 cupboards and an IKEA dresser for everything. And i have to share that with another person!

                                Student life can be hard for a foodie ;)

                                My go-to kitchenware are my knives (i can't live without them). Other than that, like people have already said; graters.

                                I make a lot of stir-fry since it can be varied a lot and only uses one pan. I also do stuff like plain pasta with sauce or oven roasted potatoes and steak. Salads can be made as long as you have a surface for cutting and a knife, so that should be easy. Bring a small mason jar for mixing dressings.

                                I usually make sure my plain lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber salad doesn't get boring by adding things with different textures like shredded chicken, feta cheese, homemade croutons or pan-roasted nuts.

                                1. Ruthie789 RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 02:51 PM

                                  Rachel Khoo had a restaurant in her kitchen in Paris. She had a small oven and managed to make so many delicious dishes. You might want to check her out on youtube.

                                  1. 512window RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 03:33 PM

                                    I've spent many weeks living in residence hotels when I've been out of town for work.

                                    The one thing you really must bring from home are good cutting boards. The only cutting board they will supply will be glass and small. Hard to use and it'll ruin any knife you use.

                                    Did you check on the supply of glassware and plates? Usually there's two tumblers and maybe two wine glasses. Is that enough? Same thing for china- there will be two dinner plates, two lunch plates, two cups, two saucers. Think about how many you'll need.

                                    I wouldn't bring a dutch oven, pressure cooker, slow cooker, or food processor. Might bring a toaster oven if you really do like to cook in one.

                                    Often the grills are in constant use. Think about bringing a grill pan.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: 512window
                                      h
                                      HillJ RE: 512window May 30, 2013 03:37 PM

                                      I would ask if toaster ovens are permitted beforehand. Some rentals do and some don't allow or offer toaster ovens.

                                      1. re: 512window
                                        pagesinthesun RE: 512window May 30, 2013 04:58 PM

                                        I think I will take others advice and stop by the hotel and ask to look at a room that will be similar to ours. This way I can really take stock of what is there and get a concept of the space. All I've seen is pictures so far.

                                        I'm hoping, being the dead of AZ summer, that there won't be too many people there. The hotel is located more of a business district than tourist or visitors. Hopefully, the grill will be available more of the time than not. We grill year around, so we've got that down pat.

                                        I will forgo bringing my small appliance center with me on your advise and a number of others. Someone else mentioned cutting boards, too. I wouldn't have thought of this one, glad you did.

                                        I will have to remember to do a follow up when we are happily tucked in to our home again!

                                        1. re: pagesinthesun
                                          meatn3 RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 05:06 PM

                                          Just remembered - the sinks are often extremely shallow. A dishpan was helpful for washing pots and pans!

                                          A coffee grinder is a must for me!

                                          1. re: pagesinthesun
                                            512window RE: pagesinthesun May 31, 2013 09:55 AM

                                            Checking it out sounds like a great idea. Is this the only game in town? There are different levels of quality in residence hotels, but of course, you'll pay for higher quality.

                                            Not having an oven at one place where I stayed for 6 weeks, became a drag.

                                            1. re: 512window
                                              pagesinthesun RE: 512window Jun 4, 2013 07:13 PM

                                              I agree completely. I'm not looking forward to no oven. And, yes, it did come down to price AND location. The higher quality level of residence hotel (that is close to our house) only offers two bedrooms at a very high price.

                                              our neighborhood+one bedroom+no oven=affordable

                                        2. drongo RE: pagesinthesun May 30, 2013 04:22 PM

                                          I sometimes need to stay at long-stay hotels, and my only must-brings are (1) a good knife, and (2) Thermapen. I also usually bring my microplane grater and my ceramic peeler (which can strip the skin off any veg so quickly).

                                          1. MidwesternerTT RE: pagesinthesun Jun 9, 2013 06:16 AM

                                            Do either of you happen to have an oven or toaster oven at your workplace? If so, consider using that for some late-afternoon meal prep that is then transported back to the hotel or an outdoor picnic site (temperatures permitting).

                                            1. g
                                              grubstreet RE: pagesinthesun Jun 9, 2013 06:36 AM

                                              I'm in rented furnished accommodation in DC for the year (I live overseas in NZ normally).
                                              Things I brought with me: knives, steel, microplane grater.
                                              Things I had to buy (and wish I'd brought): a good peeler, a good corkscrew, a good can opener, kitchen towels, an apron.
                                              Things I bought but wouldn't have brought (mostly because of weight and/or incompatible wattage): an immersion blender, a cast-iron skillet, one decent baking dish.
                                              Things I miss but can live without: my food processor, my induction hob (I have gas, which is okay, but the kitchen is way too small for the oversize range); my wonderful Breville tea-maker; my Soda-stream; my pressure cooker.

                                              1. MidwesternerTT RE: pagesinthesun Jun 9, 2013 12:25 PM

                                                Your favorite mugs for coffee/tea. To our surprise, that's what we missed most staying 2-weeks at various vacation condos. At one place, we went so far as to buy decent-sized mugs, since the place only had small 3-sip tea cups.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                                  meatn3 RE: MidwesternerTT Jun 9, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                  I'd add glass drinking vessels too. I don't like wine or bourbon out of plastic.

                                                2. c
                                                  cleopatra999 RE: pagesinthesun Jun 11, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                  Not sure what this says about me, but I have to add a my cocktail shaker and muddler to the list. Being summer it is mojito and margarita time :)

                                                  I would have to bring a blender or magic bullet, if not equipped with one, we have a smoothie daily.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: cleopatra999
                                                    v
                                                    vstock RE: cleopatra999 Sep 29, 2013 07:01 PM

                                                    Hopefully pages will share the outcome....

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