Moving in to our house has been great. We began unpacking boxes the day after carpet was put in and started sleeping there the night after. It was getting harder and harder to get work done on the place while keeping a nap and sleep schedule in another house. Probably most people agree you should not leave children alone in a house even if they’re asleep. Last year I read Dick Van Dyke’s memoir, and his folks left him alone at night to go to the movies. It was a different time.
So we’re living in the house and working on it as we can, which means we moved in before all of my appliances are in. We have a fridge and a microwave, my dishwasher needs some fine tuning before I can run a load (see previous post here), and my parents are trading their washer and dryer with us in a couple of days… oh yeah, and until a couple of days ago, my range wasn’t hooked up. We lived in our house for a whole week without stove/oven capabilities.
My kitchen needed to be my manageable mess. We didn’t have the cash to buy a propane tank for our grill (cash was allocated for the guy to come hook up the stove) so grilling was out. There are lots of microwavable meals I know, but the truth is I have lots of plug-‘em-in appliances that are rarely used, so I took this week to dust them off (wash them in the sink) and put them to use.
First up, my Pizza Pizzazz. If you don’t have one, this is not a plea to go out and buy one. This is our second. My husband bought my first one for me for Christmas when we were dating and I was a college student. The pizzazz is great for frozen pizza. However, the non-stick coating is awful on the cook surface and rubbed off (it’s like a spray painted non-stick coating), but we replaced it with one from a garage sale (new, in box.) The Pizza Pizzazz is like the exercise bike of cooking appliances (maybe a bread maker is too; I see lots of them at thrift stores.) I made some of my favorite pizza dough and cooked a couple of pizzas on our Pizzazz. It doesn’t get up to 500 or even 450 degrees, so the pizza is less than what it would have been in an oven, but we still ate from scratch a couple of nights. Win.
Next, my crock pot. Lots of my friends are slow cooker people. I’m not. It’s mostly a flavor thing and a texture thing. (Food enjoyment in general?) However, a batch of chicken noodle soup turned out great and these chicken carnita tacos were good too. Can you make chicken carnitas? Doesn’t carnita mean pork? (Looked it up… no it means “little meats,” but it’s almost always done with pork.) This recipe calls you to use your crock pot and then roast the chicken on a baking sheet after shredding it to add texture. I wasn’t able to do that part, but they were still good. I don’t have my own picture of them. My son took our tortilla warmer lid and used it as a sombrero and I took a picture of that instead and forgot to snap a shot of the tacos. Priorities.
My favorite appliance for no-range-week was my electric griddle. My husband made great pancakes one night, I made Alton Brown’s English muffins, and I used it to dry fry the tortillas for our tacos. This last one had a learning curve. You really need to preheat your griddle before putting a tortilla on, otherwise they take forever to brown and in doing so you kinda insta-stale them. After it was fully heated it only took a minute a side and worked fine.
This week made me even more grateful to have an oven and stove, but it also gave me practice for how I should cook during the summer. Many wiser people don’t bake in the summer. I’m the idiot who is preheating when it’s above 90.
How about you? What are your favorite rangeless meals? Do you keep the oven use to a minimum during the summer?