Monday, September 16, 2013

What I've Got

I've got a mix of old and new here...and the old is very old.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?)

Blender and Food Processor

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.)

Cast-iron skillet

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.).

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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?

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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!

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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?

8 comments:

Susann said...

You just brought back fond memories of my visit in the USA in 1976. My friend's mom had the same stove!
Coming back to your cooking skills. What do you like to eat? Why not start from there?

craftaceousperiod said...

Here's a great site for crockpot recipes: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
She cooks gluten free but you can make the recipes with gluten ingredients with no worries. Beans are GREAT in the crockpot. Sort and wash your beans and throw them in the crockpot. (No need to soak). Add seasonings if you like. Do NOT add tomatoes now if you plan to. Those need to go in at the end or your beans will never cook. Add enough water to cover about two inches. Set on high. Cook for 4 hours. Check them after a couple of hours just to make sure they still have water.
(Scraplyn from Ravelry)

KF-in-Georgia said...

There's not a potato dish I don't like. Same for cheese, pasta, rice and beans. Italian is lovely. I've eaten so much chicken in frozen dinners, but chicken would still be okay. I haven't had enough beef to suit me. I'm fine with pork. I like fish, but I don't think I have the skills to deal with fish with bones. Chili would be good, but I need a good recipe--nothing that relies on me to judge seasonings (forget "season to taste" instructions). But maybe I'll look around for a chili crock-pot recipe, and I could fix rice to have with it.

craftaceousperiod said...

Here's how I make crockpot chili. Cook up some ground turkey (or beef if you're inclined). About a pound. Dump it in the crock pot. Add two cans of crushed tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes with chili seasoning. (I use Kroger Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Chili Seasoning). Add one medium onion, chopped; 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (or garlic powder); and a tablespoon of chili powder. Plop on the lid and cook on high for 4 hours. I like to eat it with spaghetti, cheese and sour cream.

For staples, I always like to have at least one box of angel hair pasta (cooks fast!), a couple of bags of frozen pepper and onion blend, kosher or sea salt, chili powder, pepper, Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb (or the cheaper store brand equivalent), cheap white rice (medium or long grain), cans of crushed tomatoes, and bread.

KF-in-Georgia said...

I've added the crock-pot recipe source to my links. There's a recipe for killer chili, but it's for a 6-quart crock pot, and I'm not sure it would halve sensibly. There are other chili recipes there, or I might start with yours. Question: Is 1 tablespoon of garlic powder = 1 tablespoon of minced garlic? Or are they not equivalent? (This is the sort of thing I trip over...)

craftaceousperiod said...

Dried herbs and spices will be more intense than fresh ones. BUT, in the crock pot, dried seasonings tend to mellow out. If you enjoy garlic, a tablespoon of garlic powder would not be too much. If you barely want to notice it, go with half that much. The fresh (minced) garlic mellows out and gets sort of sweet and roasty with cooking so it's good in mass quantities.

I've made some of her recipes in a 3.5 quart crock and they fit pretty well. If there's a lot of liquid though, it might fill up too much.

I meant to add check out Reynolds Crockpot Liners. They're by the foil and plastic bags in the grocery. You get 4 for about 3 dollars but they are worth EVERY PENNY especially since your crock isn't removable. Just put the liner in the crock and drape it over the sides. Add your stuff and cook. Clean up is a breeze.

KF-in-Georgia said...

Mother said she always just cleaned it by adding some hot water once she'd gotten the food out of it, putting the lid back on, and letting it sit on low for a while. Then pour out the water, and it cleans up easily, even if the contents were greasy.

I went on eBay and just bid on a used Rival Bread n Cake Bake insert and the meat rack that were accessories to the old Rival crock-pots. Bidding ends midnight Tuesday.

craftaceousperiod said...

Oh yes!! One of those inserts will be great. I've got one of those on my list to get because they fit in other crock pots too. I've been wanting to try a cake in the crock pot, but since I discovered 3-2-1 microwave cake I'm not as intent about it.