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Cooking in someone else's kitchen


jgm
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I have no qualms anymore about bringing my knife roll with me when I cook someplace other than my own kitchen. And when people find that I cater on the side, they almost expect that I'd have my own knives with me. The one thing I have started keeping in my car is an extra cutting board. I don't know when glass cutting boards came into fashion, but they should be banned. Completely.

I will agree that it can be frustrating missing some of the other basics: instant read thermometer, salt, pepper, proper tongs, a wooden spoon (that one threw me -- doesn't EVERYBODY have at least one wooden spoon?).

I've found that over the years if there are spots that I cook at often (my mother's, grandmother's, friend's cottage), I tend to "gift" a lot of the equipment that I use there. That being said, these people also tend to be open to learning something new, so I'm always willing to help them learn a proper technique or use a proper tool. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from my mother at Christmas time asking me what temperature to cook the ham to using the instant read thermometer I had given her for Thanksgiving!!

But there are definitely impromptu situations where I don't have any tools with me and have to use what the host has. Best policy: don't complain because there is nothing that can be done anyway.

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I mentioned horrible cutting boards (briefly) in my earlier post; the most wonderful things are the cheap, flexable plastic "cutting mats" that are now being marketed, I think, by the people that make Saran Wrap. They're great; non-skid plastic mats that can be rolled up to funnel what ever you just cut into where ever it needs to be. Cheap enough to be disposable, heavy enough to be reused, and I think, top shelf dishwasher safe! :wub: Also, thin enough to slide upright between "stuff" even in the most cluttered kitchen!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Reading about the cluttered kitchens of elderly parents brought back memories. I can add some irony to the pile. I am not a clutter person. But after my parents died I simply could not part with many of the objects we grew up with. So I now my closets are crammed with boxes full of things I would never buy, and will never use, like cut-glass pickle dishes and relish trays, the set of “good china” mom only used when her mother visited, etc. Too bad I don’t have any kids to foist this stuff off on.

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Sorry, I forgot to add in my previous post that I think it surprises a lot of people that you can cook really quality meals out of their pans and using their stove. I've had so many people tell me that they could never cook as well as I do because they don't have the Henckel knives and the Calphalon pans. Then I show up at their home and use their own equipment to cook them something tasty and show them that good equipment can make you a better cook, but even with crappy equipment, technique will take you pretty far to being a good cook.

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What's also had to happen, is that I've started going through their freezers (three, two of which have refrigerators alongside or underneath) and pulling out freezer-burned food.  Dressing from 2003.  An unidentifiable meal in a divided Tupperware container from 2007.  On and on and on - and very little of it labeled; if it is, it's month and day only.

In cleaning out the mother-in-law's she had a freezer full of that stuff. From a family that hunts and fishes she had 5 year old cool whip containers of fish. No month label. They were just labeled with the year. We tried to throw it all out but my brother-in-law beat us to it and just took it all up to his place. I am sure it will turn into 10 year old fish.

He lives alone. He doesn't cook yet he still buys things in bulk. Imagine 10 lbs of buggy pasta...

He travels a lot for work. He still insists on planting a garden. It becomes a weed infested mess by the end of the season. Instead of bringing us fresh stuff he brings us the stuff he picked a week earlier and has begun to rot. The fresh stuff rots on the vine. Then he gets mad that we do not take more. I buy what I can use and use what I buy from the farmers market. He needs to stop or use some himself.

I think he is suffering because of the loss of his mom and dad's home. His dad is in a seniors apartment. Dad always had a big garden and mom would cook fresh and can the extra from the garden. I think the b-i-l would like to hang on to that tradition but he doesn't cook and he doesn't have a spouse to do it.

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I mentioned horrible cutting boards (briefly) in my earlier post; the most wonderful things are the cheap, flexable plastic "cutting mats" that are now being marketed, I think, by the people that make Saran Wrap. They're great; non-skid plastic mats that can be rolled up to funnel what ever you just cut into where ever it needs to be. Cheap enough to be disposable, heavy enough to be reused, and I think, top shelf dishwasher safe! :wub: Also, thin enough to slide upright between "stuff" even in the most cluttered kitchen!

Those worked great for me this summer up at the cabin we rented. I remembered the knives but I assumed there would be a cutting board of some sort. Of course I was wrong.

The local grocery store had a great dollar aisle. I was able to score a couple of two packs of nice sized cutting mats. I used two and left two for the next tenants.

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My Mom's freezer is full of stuff Dad liked (he died three years ago) that she'd never touch. Her refrigerator is full of leftovers from lunches out in restaurants, most of which she never touches. She doesn't cook at all, except for bacon (she cooks seven slices on Saturday morning and eats one slice a day, saving the rest wrapped in a paper towel in the fridge) and toast. She puts instant coffee in the Mr Coffee maker and it sits there all day long until she has the final cup in the evening. There's so much stuff on the counters (bottles of vitamin pills, jewelry, knick-knacks (nothing that has gone into that house in the last 40 years has left it, I swear!) that there's only about one square foot of actual working room. No cutting board in sight, one seriously dull chef's knife that she doesn't use (an old serrated steak knife is an all-purpose tool). I tend to think of my kitchen as small, but I always am shocked to realize just how tiny hers is (and she raised four kids in that house).

I can get past all that. I was one of those kids, and I learned to cook under these conditions. I can find pots and pans (they may be in the garage, but that's OK) and an old serving spoon will do the job . . . but the saddest part is that no matter what I cook, she'll only eat two bites and then says, "Let's save the rest for later," and in it goes with the restaurant leftovers. She exercises and is in pretty good shape (I'm sure she could beat me around the block in a footrace), but she just doesn't eat!

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I mentioned horrible cutting boards (briefly) in my earlier post; the most wonderful things are the cheap, flexable plastic "cutting mats" that are now being marketed, I think, by the people that make Saran Wrap. They're great; non-skid plastic mats that can be rolled up to funnel what ever you just cut into where ever it needs to be. Cheap enough to be disposable, heavy enough to be reused, and I think, top shelf dishwasher safe! :wub: Also, thin enough to slide upright between "stuff" even in the most cluttered kitchen!

We used those all the time in the RV and loved them! Even now at the cottage, I'll use them sometimes when I've got a lot of prep to do. And yes, you can put them in the dishwasher!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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So I have to ask everyone: If you are in a position to take some of your own stuff into some else's kitchen (assuming you will not hurt any one's feelings!!!) what would you take? What subset of tools/gadgets would you like close at hand and familiar?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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So I have to ask everyone:  If you are in a position to take some of your own stuff into some else's kitchen (assuming you will not hurt any one's feelings!!!) what would you take?  What subset of tools/gadgets would you like close at hand and familiar?

Always my knives. Otherwise, it depends on what I'm making. A grater and or zester. A good roasting pan. Stock. Always stock. None of my friends or family with one exception make stock. Fresh herbs. Oh wait, you said gadgets or tools. :biggrin:

I made the gravy for a turkey dinner at a friend's cottage this summer. I took my own stock, demi glace and my roux whisk.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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My two big issues I have in other people's kitchens are the lack of a non-stick frying pan, and that whatever method they use for washing their dishes always seems really messed up to m

Ha! I have the opposite problem ... people who only have nonstick pans. I find them useless for 99% of the cooking I do.

My biggest issue with people's cookware isn't the quality. I think it's possible to cook on crappy pans (it's just more work). I'm just often thwarted by the lack of a pan that can be used at all for what I want to do. For example, a pan that can go in the oven, and on the stove, and that can be deglazed, and that's about the right size for a chicken. I'd have trouble getting though most days without such a thing, but I rarely encounter a friend's or family member's kitchen that has on.

Examples would be any kind of frying pan or small, short-sided roasting pan made out of aluminum, lined copper, clad metal of any kind with stainless on the inside, etc..

But what I find instead is nonstick nonsense, pans with plastic handles that can't go in the oven, roasting pans that are too thin to go on the stove, or that are made out of glass or ceramic ...

So in this case the lack of the simplest, most useful pan possible forces me to compromise the quality of the simplest, most delicious meal possible (a roasted chicken with a pan sauce).

Other examples abound!

Happy note: a friend just convinced me to cook at her house by buying the pan I told her to get. $17 online, and everyone will be happy.

Notes from the underbelly

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I always have my knife roll in my trunk.

My late mother-li-law had a well-furnished kitchen (Kitchen-Aid, Cuisinart, plenty of pots and pans, etc) - but she hated sharp knives. My father-in-law has not sharpened the knives since she passed away 6 years ago - even though he likes sharp knives and has the equipment to keep them sharp. So we have gifted the kitchen with a wooden spoon of my liking, a ladle and cutting boards. The only thing I bring when we cook for him is my knife roll.

I don't even try to cook in my mother's kitchen anymore. Since she is basically housebount anyway we take her out to eat to get her out and about. She moving 3000 miles away in two week so cooking in her kitchen will no longer be an consideration.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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So I have to ask everyone:  If you are in a position to take some of your own stuff into some else's kitchen (assuming you will not hurt any one's feelings!!!) what would you take?  What subset of tools/gadgets would you like close at hand and familiar?

My large chef's knife only. That's all I need.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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So I have to ask everyone:  If you are in a position to take some of your own stuff into some else's kitchen (assuming you will not hurt any one's feelings!!!) what would you take?  What subset of tools/gadgets would you like close at hand and familiar?

We have a bin of stuff that travels with us to other people's kitchens (or in a "vacation kitchen" when we're car camping or headed to stay at a Residence Inn-type place somewhere). We keep a list of the things we regularly use but need to remember and put in the bin before we leave. So our travel kit comprises a good knife in a sheath, a cutting board, a microplane and a can opener, small containers of kosher salt, peppercorns, fish sauce, and canola or grapeseed oil, a clean dishrag, a small bottle of dish soap, and ziplock bags and gladware. For camping, we have a coleman stove, an ancient set of backpacking cookware, lexan spoons, and a couple of sets of the Orikaso foldable plastic dishes.

All bets are off when we fly, as we're allergic to checking luggage unless it's absolutely and completely unavoidable. In those cases, we deal with what we have, although we have been known to use the unglazed edge of a ceramic dish to sharpen knives.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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All bets are off when we fly, as we're allergic to checking luggage unless it's absolutely and completely unavoidable. In those cases, we deal with what we have,

MelissaH

Dollar stores are great. We research locations prior to traveling. They are great for cheap leave behind types of gear or for gear we will only use once.

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a waiter's corkscrew and a swiss army knife both live in the glovebox of my car (along w/ rubber gloves... it's a Glovebox). I've served dinner parties using these tools in addition to the hosts kitchen gear.

When we used to rent a summer cottage, we also had a list of kitchen items, and a tote box.

Karen Dar Woon

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I'm pretty lucky in that most of my friends and relatives have pretty decent kitchens. Except for the friend who has tiny, fancy cutting boards that you can't chop more than one clove of garlic on.

I helped my Mom design her kitchen when my parents remodeled, and she has always had pretty good equipment. I kept her supplied with good quality spices and herbs and then just sharpened her knives whenever I visited. Unfortunately, my Dad doesn't cook, so it all just sits there unused since she died. It helped me that the kitchen was decent when I cooked while my Mom was sick. Looking back at this thread, how many of us have cooked our way through a parent's last illness? There's a connection there, and I was glad to have a chance to nourish my Mom as she had nourished me for so many years. Besides, the food in the hospice sucked.

When my Grandfather died (last grandparent to go), I didn't want any of the fancy stuff, I got the silly wood napkin holder that was on their table for 60 years, the inexpensive but pretty frosted glass pitcher and glasses that my Grandma and I made lemonade in when I was little, and my Grandpa's coffee can. I will say that that man had the wierdest collection of pots and pans, so casseroles had to be divided up into loaf and cake pans.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Sorry, I forgot to add in my previous post that I think it surprises a lot of people that you can cook really quality meals out of their pans and using their stove. I've had so many people tell me that they could never cook as well as I do because they don't have the Henckel knives and the Calphalon pans. Then I show up at their home and use their own equipment to cook them something tasty and show them that good equipment can make you a better cook, but even with crappy equipment, technique will take you pretty far to being a good cook.

I think this is the point of things for me. I live at home with my parents, so most of my entertaining cooking was done in my tiny college apartment kitchen with very few things and most of them really cheap.

I never really have a problem using other people's stuff or dealing with the lack of it, so my biggest problem is with where they put that stuff. I know it's different for every household so thing for me are just like, "duh." I mean, who wouldn't want to keep the silverware in the drawer closest to the dishwasher or sink? WHy in the world would you put the cutting board in the teeny, tiny, impossible to reach cabinet above the fridge? Timing's my worst kitchen skill, so not being able to find things at hand is the most frustrating thing for me in other people's kitchens.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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. . .

I never really have a problem using other people's stuff or dealing with the lack of it, so my biggest problem is with where they put that stuff. I know it's different for every household so thing for me are just like, "duh." I mean, who wouldn't want to keep the silverware in the drawer closest to the dishwasher or sink? WHy in the world would you put the cutting board in the teeny, tiny, impossible to reach cabinet above the fridge? Timing's my worst kitchen skill, so not being able to find things at hand is the most frustrating thing for me in other people's kitchens.

I think you have hit the nail on the head for me! :biggrin: My daughter HAS a well-equipped kitchen but it would take me longer to find that equipment than to make a 3-course meal! The logic of where things are kept just totally escapes me. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, she decided to do a partial kitchen re-work and nothing is where it used to be. :sad: So I haul my tackle box with me packed with the stuff I could do without but choose not to. And the box is ready to travel with me to a cottage or wherever.

Likely if someone had to cook in my kitchen they would find my method of storing things equally illogical.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Funny. My husband can't find anything in our kitchen. My college roommate reports the same is true of her husband.

But we could still walk into each others' kitchen and find what we need.

Why is that? :rolleyes:

(And we were roommates a looooong time ago.)

Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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My parent's kitchen is slowly driving me mad. I'm living there temporarily, and pretty much anything I want to cook, they're willing to buy the groceries for. But they don't really cook for themselves anymore, and some of the design decisions from their ktichen remodel make that obvious. Why are the stove and sink against opposite walls, with an island in the middle? Why is the sink made of white ceramic that can be scratched with stainless steel or cast iron? And the most aggravating thing is the flat, WHITE, glass/ceramic stovetop. Last week I stir fried some greens in a non-stick skillet. This somehow made the burner SO DIRTY that it took me 20 minutes to get it clean, using special glass cleaner, then special super-expensive ceramic cleaner, then, finally, a razor blade.

I can deal with the fact that my new BF has a crappy electric stove that came with his house. I know that stoves are expensive to replace. I cannot fathom why anyone would buy a stove like my parents have on purpose.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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And the most aggravating thing is the flat, WHITE, glass/ceramic stovetop.  Last week I stir fried some greens in a non-stick skillet.  This somehow made the burner SO DIRTY that it took me 20 minutes to get it clean, using special glass cleaner, then special super-expensive ceramic cleaner, then, finally, a razor blade.

I can deal with the fact that my new BF has a crappy electric stove that came with his house.  I know that stoves are expensive to replace.  I cannot fathom why anyone would buy a stove like my parents have on purpose.

Thank you. I cook in several of my friends' homes and I find that I can usually do just fine with what they have. However, this weekend I took my pan thinking that would make it easier to get that lovely golden brown on the potatoes and chicken. (She has all nonstick.) But I just could not get the hang of her glass topped stove. I felt so bad - dinner wasn't nearly as good as it should have been. The stove came with the house, so I certainly don't blame her. But I felt bad. I told her that means she needs to invite me over to cook more often, so I can get the hang of her stove. I hope she does.

Ellen

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