We are two and a half weeks into our renovations, which means we've also survived for two and half weeks without a real kitchen! This was one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the remodel for me, so I thought I'd share a few tips.
The first is that if you can do your remodel during the warmer months of the year, it will make your life a bit easier so that you can grill or throw together quick no-cook meals. I'm hoping that over the next few weeks, we'll be able to grill a bit, too (the giant snow flakes currently swirling around outside might suggest otherwise, but I'm going to maintain my delusions).
Our cooking set-up relies heavily on our slow cooker and microwave - two gadgets I didn't use at all before this. I know many people use their slow cookers all the time, but I have trouble working out the timing of it. Why are so many recipes 4-6 hours long? If I had a fancy slower cooker with a timer, this wouldn't be an issue, but alas, I stole this one from my mom and I think it's probably 20 years old. To work around this, I've been focusing on recipes that require 8-10 hours, or just 2 hours, so that I can either start in the morning before I leave for work or throw it together immediately when I get home around 5:00 p.m.
These are a few of my favorites so far:
- Slow-cooked brisket and onions (8-10 hours on low)
- Easy chicken marbella (2 hours on high)
- Creamy chicken and mint curry (8 hours on low)
- Bourbon maple slow cooker baked beans (I added cut up kielbasa to this, too - 8-10 hours on low)
I've had a few failures, too, including this slow cooker mac and cheese (totally gluey). To round out these meals, I bought frozen pre-cooked rice, brown rice, and quinoa at Trader Joes, as well as some of their frozen risotto, gnocchi, and Indian meals for nights when a 2 hour slow cooked dinner isn't going to cut it. These actually remind me of the early days dating Peter, when we made these kinds of things all the time (and thought they were delicious! ha).
The worst thing about the remodel is the lack of a sink. Our accessible bathroom is upstairs, so we do all our dishes there (and obviously have to go there to wash hands, fill up a water glass, etc.). Every night, we fill a giant water pitcher and bring that downstairs, which helps with a bit with the back and forth, and I've started using some disposable plates and bowls, though I feel kind of guilty about it. To minimize dishes, I've stopped making salads and simply through extra vegetables (fresh or frozen) into the grain when it's microwaving or near the end of a slow-cooked dish, like peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, or arugula (which I treat like spinach).
I think that's everything I've learned so far, which looks long, but is admittedly not that revolutionary! If I'm missing something genius that made your kitchen renovation more bearable, please let me know! I've still got at least 3-4 more weeks of this...