Induction Cooktop

I was going to wait a few months before posting about the induction cooker, to see if it lasts longer than my last kitchen appliance experiment, but since I’m the only person in the free world who can screw up Hamburger Helper, I had to post tonight-

Everything went great until the ‘cover and simmer for 12 minutes’ bit – I lowered the setting from med-high (900) to low (300), slapped on the lid, set the built-in timer (is that awesome, or what?) and went back to writing.

Went out a few minutes later, because the dog had disappeared and was suspiciously quiet for this time of day.   She was dutifully cleaning up my mess off the floor and probably would have cleaned the counter, if she could have reached it.

OverflowoncookerHow to fix messed up Hamburger Helper -

After boiling over a good portion of the liquid, I estimated and replaced the liquid lost – added salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, a pinch of marjoram and then stirred my own sour cream into the whole mess.

Tasty and the cooker cleaned up just fine, the dog hasn’t died (so far) from ingesting Hamburger Helper sauce mix and I’m ashamed to find my cooking skills have so greatly deteriorated.  The fact that I don’t multi-task so well since the stroke has been made abundantly clear to me, but did I also lose all my cooking skills?

And inquiring minds also want to know if I eat Hamburger Helper once a week, how long before I lose my “Shop Local” and “Slow Food” badge?

And the induction cook-top is fine…

Easy clean-up, fired up to ‘dry/oil’ my cast-iron skillet and proud to report my kitchen is no longer the messiest I’ve ever seen.

The quick response of heat control using induction just can’t be beat – the moment the boil over registered in my brain and I hit the low button, the boiling over ceased within 5 seconds.    As long as it lasts, I’m super pleased with this addition to my kitchen.

Here’s the one I purchased from Amazon: Spt 1300-Watt Induction Cooktop, Silver

Transition to Solar Cooking

New year and new home.   I moved in over Christmas break and marvel at my tiny 1913 built home and all it’s perfection.

I’ve known for years how to build a simple solar oven – it’s still bookmarked and marvel of marvels, the web-page with directions hasn’t moved or been deleted.   It’s on a project list that somehow get’s pushed to the bottom by various circumstances but now seems imminent, simply because circumstances are pushing me in solar-cooking direction.

(For a slew of options, ideas and pictures on solar cooking, I also suggest: Solar Cookers World Network.)

My new-to-me kitchen contained an older propane stove.   All four burners did lite, the oven needed a good scouring, and after shutting off the burners, the residual smell of propane wafted through the house.

I wasn’t so keen on using it.

A Christmas gift of an infrared counter-top oven (which isn’t linked, because it quit working on day 7 and was returned) got me excited about the possibilities of quick, economical cooking.  I’ve cooked economically as far as ingredients go for years, but a growing family and busy work schedule meant I had gotten into the habit of full-day, big batch cooking for easy thaw & heat meals later.

After the demise of the counter-top oven, I had managed to get several recipes converted to preparation utilizing my crock-pot, a toaster oven my mom donated because she never used it and an electric tea-kettle.   I still struggled with cooking pasta al dente, and so exchanged the dead counter-top oven for an induction cook-top, which works marvelously with my cast iron cookware and stainless steel stock pots.

Granted, I’m by no means at solar cooking just yet, but in my years of converting recipes for various reasons (nutritional enhancement, labor saving, local ingredients) there’s one thing I’ve learned well – how to modify to less energy – usually my own.    With the addition of converting to smaller, quick cooking recipes, I don’t believe I’m too far off from moving right over to a solar oven.

I also found a No-Knead pizza dough recipe that uses 1/5th the yeast and is just as yummy as my own recipe, without near the work or baking time.   We’ve had the pizza, and a batch of his No-Knead bread is in the works as I write this post.   Already tinkered with the recipes, because I can’t help myself and as soon as perfected – I will post!

February 10th is my first ‘dinner party’ at my new home.   So far, I’ve only cooked for two and certainly not for guests, so it will be intriguing what comes out of that soiree.

In the past month, these are the appliances I’ve used to prepare all our meals: toaster oven, small Crock-pot, electric tea-kettle, electric egg poacher and induction cook-top.   I used the large slow cooker twice, but for just the two of us, it’s overkill.

If my theory of core principals for solar cooking recipes is correct, then these current changes are carrying me down a road that leads to a solar oven.   And if not, my new kitchen set-up is ready for removing the propane tank from the back yard.

Appliances used instead of conventional oven.

Appliances used instead of conventional oven.

Induction Cooktop

Induction Cook top

How to cook Hamburger Helper without a stove top.

Yes, I confess, in the business of moving, sans a stove top and wanting a quick meal with little effort from my worn out body, I fixed Hamburger Helper.  It’s not that I have anything against it other than its long ingredient list.  All I’ve learned about proper nutrition tells me the longer or more complicated the ingredient list, the better chance you have of ingesting things your body may not like.  Nevertheless, I fixed it often that week we moved.

First, brown your hamburger in the toaster oven – using the roasting tray, cook 1 lb. crumbled hamburger for 15-20 minutes on 300 degrees.

While your hamburger is cooking, heat the required amount of water in the electric tea kettle.   Mix the hot water, seasonings and pasta together in a slow cooker set on high.   As soon as the hamburger is done, drain off the fat, add to the slow-cooker stir and check your pasta.  You do not have to ‘simmer’ as long as package directions, else your pasta will be overcooked.

Seems simple enough now, but when it was late, and I stood, with a box in one hand and a skillet in another, in front of the space where a stove is supposed to be – well, it took me a minute to figure it out.