This condo was built in the early 70s. The first owner was a bachelor who lived here until 2000. During his time here, he updated the refrigerator, water heater, and dishwasher. Since I've been here (from April 2000), I've replaced the garbage disposal, the water heater, and the kitchen floor.
That leaves the kitchen stove (and matching overhead exhaust fan/light).
I've Googled "vintage GE electric oven" and I think this model first came out in 1964. It's an undersized ("apartment" sized) stove with push buttons to control the elements. (I grew up calling those things "burners." Surprising how prophetic that term turned out to be when I was trying to cook.) I've never used the stove-top in the 13 years I've lived here. That pretty tea kettle? All I've ever done is dust it. When I want hot water, I've used the microwave. Not long after I moved in, I discovered that half the cookie sheets I owned wouldn't fit in the oven so I gave them away. All I have left is a couple of warped, stained sheets that don't fit comfortably; they scrape the walls from side to side, and if you put them in front to back, you can't close the oven door. (I think new cookie sheets will be on my wish list for Christmas. 17" x 18" is the limit; my current pan--that scrapes the wall--is 19" including the handles.) I've only ever used the oven to heat frozen pizzas. I don't know if the self-cleaning cycle works since I never got the oven dirty. (The running joke was, "I don't clean the oven. I just dust it.") I know the timer and clock don't work. And there's a light switch (front left corner of the door), but I can't find anywhere inside the oven that you could put a lightbulb. I have an oven thermometer hanging from the rack inside. I think the oven cooks pretty close to the set temperature.
On the top of the oven is a list of suggested cooking temperatures for various items. They have the temperature for cooking a turkey, which I'm pretty sure is a joke. You couldn't fit a turkey in this thing.
So I microwave. This microwave is about two years old, and it's wonderful. The sensors judge the proper time for baked potatoes, popcorn, reheating food, heating beverages. Built-in turntable. I love this thing--which is good, because if it lasts as long as my previous microwave lasted, I may be cooking on this for the next 14 years or so. Just to make things clear, household appliances generally like me. My TV was new in 2000. My washer and dryer were new in 1985 or so. I've never had to place a service call on any of those things--and I have dogs, which means lots of dog hair in the washer and dryer. (The only thing I have problems with is laptops.) My condo even has the original--circa 1970--air conditioner and furnace. And a home owner's warranty.
I have a 70s Rival 3100 crock-pot that I got from my mother. The 3100 is 3½ quarts. I also have the original handbook as well as a 1975 book called Crockery Cooking by Alexis Durrell. There's some rust on the crock-pot's outside metal, and this is not the original lid. Also, the ceramic inside can't be removed. But it works.
And I have a dehydrator: a 9-tray Excalibur. And The Dehydrator Bible--my one cookbook published in this century. I know I need to get some parchment paper to use in the dehydrator. I want to make healthy snacks for me--and for the dogs. (You can make your own yogurt? Really?)
In a bottom cabinet--because I don't have counter-space--I have an elderly Oster blender and a pre-2000 Conair food processor. I love that the Oster blender parts available in stores today will fit this old blender. And I used the food processor a few months ago, when I needed to grind kibble for an aging and finicky greyhound. (And yes, that box beside the food processor holds a springform cake pan. I used that many, many years ago to make a cheesecake. I haven't looked in the box lately, so there's no telling what shape that pan is in.)
I don't have a lot of pots and pans--and very little space to store them. I have the two cookie sheets that need to be replaced. A six-inch cast-iron skillet (souvenir of Pittypat's Porch restaurant in Atlanta, found in my mother's basement when she moved last January) that needs to be cleaned and seasoned. I have a small, no-stick skillet (the right size for scrambling eggs--except that I usually cook eggs in custard cups in the microwave). There's a small, battered, ugly saucepan the right size for heating a can of something or other; I've kept the saucepan around so I'd have something I could use in the fireplace in case of a long-lasting power outage. I have two Pyrex loaf pans, a 2-quart Anchor Hocking casserole with lid, and a Corning casserole dish (about 1½-quart, I think). All can be used in the oven or the microwave, but none of them are rated for the stove-top, so I'm going to need to invest in some sort of stove-top pot. (Double boiler?) I've got a set of 3 Corning glass mixing bowls (microwavable); and in one of the kitchen drawers I think I have a little hand-held mixer. I have plenty of measuring cups and spoons; also tongs, a strainer, a flour/sugar sifter, spatula and gizmos (potato/carrot peeler, egg separator, etc.).
And I have cookbooks. The New York Times Cook Book is dated 1990. The Microwave Cookbook dates to my first microwave oven (about 1988?). The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook is dated 1980. Keep It Simple is 1981. The Dehydrator Bible is 2009.
I need to learn about crock-pot cooking: Can you modify most recipes to work in the crock-pot? Is there a trick to knowing how much water to add, knowing whether everything can cook at once or some things need to be cooked separately?
For instance, I have packages of dried beans and peas and packages of rice. Can these cook in the crock-pot? I've glanced at the recipes, and they call for a tablespoon or two of olive oil (which I have) and some water. Do I change any of that to cook them in the crock-pot? I've made one dish in the crock-pot and was disappointed in it (that'll be another blog post), and right now I've got a potato, some minced onion, two tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of a seasoning mix in the crock-pot on low.
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Please feel free to chime in. Do you have a favorite link for crock-pot recipes? Recommendations for what kind of pot I should look for for stove-top cooking? A favorite dehydrator trick? Talk to me here--or just talk back and forth to each other, and I'll eavesdrop. I have friends and relatives who cook. Help!
Also: I have some white sugar and some Demarara organic sugar. I have salt, black pepper, some red pepper, garlic powder, and a few other spices. I have white vinegar and Vigo olive oil. I don't have flour or cornstarch or things like that. I don't have pasta on hand (beyond boil-in-bag white rice, Jasmine, and Basmati). What kinds of staple ingredients should I lay in so I'll be able to cope with average recipes? (Please keep in mind that I don't know one flour from another.) I have a couple of empty countertop cannisters (the other cannisters hold buttons), so what should I put in the empties?