Improvising in the Kitchen

One of the side effects of having everything packed and (with any luck) getting prepared for shipment is having to get creative with the loaner kitchen equipment.  It’s great that we have at least something to cook with, but the tools they provide are decidedly not what I’m used to.  That’s ok, it’s time to get creative.

Probably my biggest challenge has been the lack of a non-stick frying pan.  Scrambled eggs are a right royal pain in a thin-bottomed stainless steel fry pan.  I’m doing fine with fried eggs, but I always stir the scrambled eggs too soon, which causes them to stick more, not less.  Luckily, baking soda and a little elbow grease takes the stuck-on parts right off.

Since we don’t have a cookie sheet, pizza has been fun.  Last week we did pan pizzas in the two pie plates and the 9×13 pyrex dish.  Pretty good, but the crust got too thick.  This week I made pizzas directly on aluminum foil, which then got placed directly on the oven rack.  That actually worked pretty well, although lifting the foil out with two pot holders got a little exciting.  Still, no burns or dropped pizzas, so I’ll call that a success.

I’m really proud of tonight’s feat.  I marinated eggplant and frozen mushroom in soy sauce and rice vinegar with some ginger.  That got put in the baking dish, covered with foil, at 450 for about 45 minutes.  While that was going, I chopped bok choi and onion to stir fry (yes, in the one fry pan).  When the eggplant was almost done, I started some fusili pasta while I stir fried the greens.  Eveything finished at almost precisely the same time.  I hit the pasta with some sesame oil, then served it all together.  Using to oven to cook the eggplant saved me having to cook in several stages (I’d still be over the stove two hours later) and meant I had greater control over the timing of dinner.  Definite win all around.

My coffee cake recipe just doesn’t quite work the same without a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar (tried it last week with melted butter…it was a bit dense).  On the other hand, if you sub oil for the butter it actually makes a pretty decent muffin (yes, we’ve got a loaner muffin tin, when what we really need are more than four small cereal bowls).


Apart from improvising with inadequate equipment and storage containers (bread bags and ziplocks are definitely our friends), I did have to plan a little in advance for my birthday celebration.  Before the movers came, the kids helped me bake a 1-2-3-4 cake (subbing brown sugar for white) with a tunnel of mango preserve in it.  I also made peanut butter ice cream, so we essentially had a peanut butter and jelly birthday.  We also have some food still in the freezer for easy meals this week (frozen falafel, anyone?).

Birthday Bundt

So yes, challenging, but also a good opportunity to improvize and get creative with ways to apply heat to food.