Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to Cook when Renovating a Kitchen

kitchen renovation image

As a cook, your kitchen is a sanctuary. The thought of doing a renovation, although it might be exciting, is also one of the most difficult transitions to deal with. The first thing is packing up all of your goods. I recommend keeping your essentials out until the very end. The rest can go into boxes or plastic storage bins. Bins with lids keep things clean and still accessible if you need them. From your essentials, pare down as much as you can. Think like you are packing a suitcase.

Relocating your kitchen to your dining room is an option. A long side table will do just fine as your temporary kitchenette. If you don't have a long table, buy a large Ikea desk top and put it on top of an existing smaller table. It will provide you with the prep space you need. Mobile food carts with a cutting board surface will also be helpful. For items that get quite hot, like a toaster oven, it is safest placed on a surface that can take the heat. A large tile from the hardware store works perfectly.

You still need to consider ergonomics and sanitary conditions. Plan for it. Make sure your surfaces are the right height and you have a place for clean vs used towels. Have a dish pan like they use in restaurants available. Get them at your restaurant supply store or online. Don't let anything stack up. Clean as you go! Prep, clean. Cook, clean. Serve, clean.

Next, think about what you need when everything is out of the kitchen. Once the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and sink are gone, they're gone. No more disposer either. Have a plan in place for food scraps. Ideally you have a compost bin. If not, get a separate garbage can and take it out often! Immediately is best.

If you don't already have them, some useful tools to have on hand include:

A one or two burner, portable cooking range or induction cooking plate, an oven-top griddle, electric skillet, waffle maker, hot sandwich maker, crock pot, toaster with mini-oven or a toaster oven, an extra dorm-sized fridge, microwave*, a Ninja and/or immersion blender, a culinary heat lamp, food steamer or rice cooker, and a coffee/tea maker if you use one. If you plan on entertaining, add warming trays to your list. Paper plates, cups and reusable dinnerware will be an asset in this situation. Get some. Lastly, you'll be cooking with smaller pans in a toaster oven, invest in a few Pyrex glass pans that are stable to 450 degrees. If you bake, you'll need a small sheet pan, and smaller muffin pans.

Renovating a kitchen doesn't mean you can't make delicious meals. In fact, it somewhat simplifies the process. I call it dorm cooking. Even if you are throwing a party, warming trays and three crock pot warmers will make your buffet easy to set up.

Water is another thing you'll need to consider. During renovations you may want to have water delivered and rent or buy a water dispenser stand with both hot & cold water taps. You have a choice of either top or bottom load. Think about which will work the best for you.

As always, keep a sense of humor. Your energy goes into the food you prepare. Enjoy this switch-up of your routine and it will shine through with your delicious.

These are some fun cooking hacks that at the very least will make you laugh. If my list of what you need is too long, you can make just about anything with a coffee maker and an iron.

TIP: Depending on what your weather is's also a good time to get your grill on.

* I don't cook with a microwave.

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