Cooking without a cooker

Published on 1 May 2010 in , , ,

You never quite realise how you rely on something until it’s gone.

Curry cooking in progress!

That was the lesson I’ve been having recently at the loss of our dodgy, ancient cooker. Well I say loss – it’s currently sat outside on the lawn awaiting disposal. The reason for that is that after nearly six years, we’re finally getting the kitchen redone. The building work started on Thursday and it’s currently an empty shell with no power, no units and no cooker. However it must be said, the new plastered walls look fantastic!

However the gain comes with some pain. The living room and spare bedroom currently contain pots, pans, a washing machine, a new oven, extractor fan and a reasonable amount of dust.

And we’ve been having to cope with limited cooking facilities, consisting of a microwave that we’ve recently found out doesn’t seem to be heating properly, and a slow cooker.

I did have a plan for food during the kitchen drought. On Wednesday when Catherine was out, I made three portions of a (veggie) sausage and (random) root veg casserole. The plan was that I’d have one portion, and the other two could be reheated on Thursday for tea.

This plan was thwarted by Catherine not eating out as planned on Wednesday, and thus coming back hungry! As such, Thursday saw us pop out to Ban Yai which is a Thai restaurant in Abbey Mills, where I enjoyed a lovely Beef Paneang curry, whilst a plethora of people seemed to be at a shindig at the neighbouring photography studio, complete with waitresses in 1950’s style “cigarette girl” outfits.

For Friday, frankly I’d already had in mind to pop to the pub and eat there and as such we ate some lovely tapas at the Princess of Wales. I wholeheartedly recommend the Cod Croquetta if you’re in the area.

Of course all that eating out meant that there was still left a portion of sausage and random veg casserole. What to do with it? Well thanks to creative thinking and a single portion of vegetable soup, that became Saturday lunch! Chunky sausage and vegetable soup to be precise! Frankly it tasted far superior to the original casserole…

A trip to Sainsburys has at least meant I can now be a bit more prepared for the cooker drought – as I type a sweet potato, mushroom and aubergine curry is in the slow cooker – in fact there’s at least six portions of it, which can be easily reheated over the next few days. Either on Sunday or Monday I’ll follow up with a batch of chilli done in it. With the kitchen out of bounds, the slow cooker has been installed on a table in the hall, near our coats. Washing up, incidentally, has been done in the bathroom.

However it’s been obvious that a slow cooker alone is no perfect solution – rifling through my slow cooker recipe book, I was amazed at how many recipes required frying or boiling ingredients before putting them in the cooker. For several minutes I pondered a veggie “shepherds” pie until I realised I had absolutely no way to cook and mash some potatoes! I’ve even had to fudge the curry recipe as it called for roasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds. We’ll be enjoying it made with curry powder…

Whilst I wanted to resist living off ready meals for the duration, I have ended up buying several packs of microwavable rice to try and fill the void.

But that said, to eat well, this is a period that requires organisation and creative thinking. Suddenly you realise just how complex the recipes you make are. And your plans may be flawed. I may well have a fantastic batch of pasta sauce frozen, however I’ve no way to cook pasta!

The pain will be worth the gain I’m sure. The old kitchen was a mess. The taps had broken; the oven falling apart. Oh and it had so many stupid gaps and cracks all over the place that dirt just collected everywhere. The new kitchen will be nice. The oven looks brilliant. I know it does. After all, it’s sat in the living room…