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Cooking Secrets of the Conventioneer Sisterhood


Ellen Shapiro
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Back in the day, I was a marketing person for a couple of big publishing companies. That means I spent a lot of time on the road and stayed in a lot of hotels. Though one goes into such an endeavor with a pretty much unlimited dining budget there are plenty of situations where dining out is undesirable or, in the case of smaller cities where nobody lives and where restaurants close at sundown, impossible.

The most creative approach I've ever witnessed is: Cooking with the coffee pot. You know that cheap coffee maker you find in most middle market hotel rooms across North America? Well have you ever noticed that under the coffee pot there's this metal plate that keeps the coffee warm after it's brewed? Has it ever occurred to you that this metal plate is also known as . . .

. . . a griddle?

Imagine the possibilities.

What are the most creative ideas you've all heard or come up with for feeding oneself under such circumstances?

Here, I'm not talking about a road trip where you can pack your van with coolers and portable burners. No food preparation at home packed for travel, either. This is about what you do when you've got seemingly zero options.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I've never done anything like that, Ellen. So I'm waiting to hear about what you did. Did you fry an egg? Flapjacks? Salmon? :unsure:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Jin: I have only been a witness to the procedure, never engaged in it myself. My friend who is quite the aficionado of coffee-maker cooking, however, is a master of fajitas. The hot plate is just the right size to warm a small tortilla from the grocery store, into which is placed grilled strips of flank steak, peppers, onions, and assorted condiments gathered from Taco Bell et al. I hasten to add that he is quite conscientious about cleaning the "kitchen" after use.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Ellen, so he was basically re-heating Taco Bell food? I think I get it. One could do that with various such stuff were one so inclined.

I note that you were a by-stander. I myself would have been standing back perhaps much farther.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Jin: Only the condiments come from Taco Bell and the chains. They're great sources of individual packets of hot sauce, little plastic specimen cups of salsa, and such. But we're talking real meat, as in purchased raw from the grocery store, sliced with the Spyderco or Laguiole, and cooked up right there on the coffee maker hot plate. Tortiallas are a dime a dozen even in the Midwest at grocery stores these days and they keep without refrigeration so those will hold 'til the next day when they can be made again but in a veggie version (unless the hotel has a minibar fridge, in which case you can cook beef all week).

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Wow.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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But we're talking real meat, as in purchased raw from the grocery store, sliced with the Spyderco or Laguiole, and cooked up right there on the coffee maker hot plate.

I'm trying to picture this. Does the meat sizzle or does it just lay there and slowly turn gray? hmmmm. "Front desk, could we get some more shampoo and a spatula?"

--Therese

Many parts of a pine tree are edible.
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Fajitas show a good imagination. I was afraid you were going to describe heated bologna or bacon strips.

I think I'd leave the coffee thing alone and munch on a granola or similar snack bar.

Hmmm, perhaps one could warm up a pop tart on that thing.

--mark

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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Well, they're wonderful for melting chocolate and butter. Not in my hotel room, really, don't have a need for it there.

But when I'm cooking in my kitchen and need something melted, I often sit the cup or small pan with the item that needs melting on the coffee pot burner.

They melt slowly, and don't burn. Works great. :rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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eeeeewwwww!! I spend a lot of time staying in hotels...and if you have ever been stuck in the room while the maid "cleans it"...well...let's just say it changes your perspective about what a hotel considers "clean"...eating food cooked or placed on any surface in a hotel room would not be an option for me :wacko: ...

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I've done many a hobo meal with my hotpot at home. There is a metal disk in the bottom of my pot that is the same size as a soup can.

Here is a fast very big meal....

5 hot dogs

1 can nacho cheese soup

1 can chicken broth

- Open can of cheese soup [leave an 1/2 inch uncut - bend lid back, fold lid sides down to make a handle], and using 1 dog (room temp) eat as much of the soup as you can.

You should be able to get it down a 1/3 or so of the way.

cut up two hot dogs or less, depending on space and place in with the cheese soup. Open the can of chicken broth, and pour into cheese soup can but not all the way full. Simmer for 1 hour for a really rich concentrated soup mixure. The hot dogs will become a nice brown and release their juices into the soup.

Taking a wash cloth, grab the handle very carefully, and run cool water on the outside of the soup can. Consume your first meal. Leave soup cheesy soup at the bottom.

When full, and can is fully room temp, add the remaining dogs and chicken broth. Cover with plastic baggie and place rubber band over to seal out air.

Put in ice bucket for cold storage.

Breakfast awaits you in the morning.

Add the various dry soups /noodles out there....other canned meats, you can do this and not eat the same meal for a year easy. And talk about cheap eats. High in sodium, etc.....but nutricious none the less.

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You've reminded me of a difficult few weeks that I had living in London in the early '70s.I was lent a very bare bones flat in South London,with a kerosene heater,and the pay as you go gas meter,which I didn't know about for the first few weeks.No real heat,hot water,telephone or gas.It was a cold winter,and I remembered reading some actresses' biography,mentioning life on the road,and the use of an overturned iron for cooking.I would drop some pieces of sausage into canned soup and such-it did warm them....but that was about as far as it went.No Blanquette de Veau or other culinary miracles...

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Here is a fast very big meal....

5 hot dogs

1 can nacho cheese soup

1 can chicken broth...

You're kidding, right? :blink:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Here is a fast very big meal....

5 hot dogs

1 can nacho cheese soup

1 can chicken broth...

You're kidding, right? :blink:

No, Jin --

Completely serious. Due to disability I'm very, very frugal at times. Plus, its literally a meal I can prepare from either a night stand, or chair. My arthritus doesn't let me cook standing. I have a mini-kitchen at chair level.

I've learned alot about canned foods. When I have a bit more to spend, I stock a big Asian pantry of dry goods. Very inexpensive, yet many opportunities for new dishes and recipes to be made. :smile:

To really cook hot dogs and condensed soup right, place good ol' oscar meyer hot dogs in the bottom tray of a bamboo steamer, put the soup in a plastic casserole tray and in the top steamer container. Set the over the hot pot and steam for about 1 1/2 hrs. The hot dogs will steam in their own juices turning a lovely golden dark tannish brown and will taste as good as a steamed stadium dog. The soup will be flavored with the franks and will also be darker and very rich. I just dip the doggies in the soup and then eat the leftover soup with a spoon. Very, very good. Warm and filling.

Try it some time! I have yet to find a better brand of hot dog (for steaming), and I've been trying all the different store brands.

Later, I was able to afford a nice professional model, stainless steel tabletop ceramic grille, a two burner range, and a Fabeware 3 n' 1 oven/breadmachine. So, my dream of a mini-kitchen is pretty much complete.

:wink:

Edited by Kerouac1964 (log)
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Wow.

Kerouac, table-top grilles are great. I'm glad your mini-kitchen is coming together. Arthritis hasn't gotten my joints to the point it has you, fortunately. Yet.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Running through the various potential hotel-room heat-sources: I wonder if there's anything you can do with 1) the hair dryer, and 2) the radiator/vent.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm sure I could make some great s'mores on the radiator vent. It could be a combo chocolate melting on the heater vent and marshmallow melting on the coffee plate (on a piece of foil--lest we damage the hot plate for good). And don't forget that the same vent that heats, usually also cools, so if you're in a pinch for refrigeration (no substitute for things that would become perishable but could tide you over for a few hours) you can also cool things on that same hotel air cooler.

Now the hair dryer . . . hmmmm, I'm very curious about how a marshmallow would "roast" on med. hot or the full heat blower setting. I guess I'd have to put the marshmallow on a stick or skewer. It might get blown off and it wouldn't take on the browning effect of roasting over a fire but it could be tasty just the same. Maybe I should be thinking more about baking on the coffee hot plate. I wonder how long it would take to bake a cookie.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Unless that's a brand new hair dryer, I'd suggest a cootie filter between the dryer and its target. A tissue would probably work if you have enough hands for dryer, tissue and food item.

Is anyone really that desperate to cook this way in a hotel room?

Wouldn't it be better to make hot water with the coffee pot and drop a boullion cube into it if you're so hungry?

but, back to the thread....

What about the heat lamp in the bath room? Bet you could warm up a number of frozen Mrs Pauls products with that puppy!

--mh

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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For road trips we have those little coil immersion heaters. Brings water to an actual boil, making drinkable tea possible.

I suppose they could be used for other liquids as well, and boiling water for other things other than tea. If necessary.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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