Saturday, June 9, 2012

How To Survive Without a Stove

The house my husband and I purchased came with a Smooth Surface Stove Top.  If you've seen these they are fashionable and useful.  They are also very touchy.  The surface can be difficult to clean although I used a light brushing of baking soda to remove the blemishes.  The elements in the unit are typically Halogen lamps.  When they go the unit is no longer usable and they may be costly to replace. That is precisely what happened.  While we are deciding weather it is worth the cost to repair or replace the unit we have had to find alternatives to preparing meals.  It has turned out to be an economical advantage.

First is the grill.  My husband is a master griller. The meat is always well seasoned, tender and juicy.  Not only is he great at grilling meat but he can expand the use of this outdoor favorite.  Potatoes, corn, steamed vegetables, grilled sandwiches and so much more.  I had never tried a "smoked" casserole before.  It was surprisingly tasty and did not take as long as I anticipated it would. We always keep plenty of charcoal around and mix it with the limbs, leaves and small logs from the yard.

My second all time favorite is my crock pot.  Crock pots have been around for many years. Their popularity continues to grow.  Cookbooks dedicated to the many dishes prepared in crock pots are popping up.  It is so convenient to fill the appliance with meat and spices in the morning.   I leave it simmering on low and my husband may add some vegetables or pasta when he gets home early afternoon.  Our dinner is fresh, hot and delicious with little effort.

My breakfast griddle offers so my alternatives also. I not only cook eggs and pancakes, but I can place a pan on the surface to slowly heat leftovers or water.  You must be careful that the utensil is not metallic enough to ruin the non-stick coating of the griddle.  It also works very well  for hamburgers, hot dogs or any meat that can easily be cooked through.  Fried potatoes brown very nicely on the evenly heated surface and require little or no grease.
If you have an indoor grill you know how useful they can be.  The myth that they can be difficult to clean is unfounded in my opinion.  I wipe the unit with a cloth while it is still warm and it spruces right up.  Not only do these machines make perfect Panini but it grills up a hamburger in no time.  I like to throw on some fresh vegetables and add  to  grilled chicken for a fast and healthier dinner.  Try a scrumptious shrimp and pineapple kabob that makes a quick and   delicious meal.

The one thing I probably reach for most often is my electric wok.  The inside is completely coated so nothing will stick to the pan.  It reaches a temperature hot enough to cook anything, and it cleans so easily.  It fries, it boils, it sautes.  I find there isn't much I can't cook with my wok.  I recently cooked up a batch of salsa to can. It has to boil hard for for quite a while.  This ole wok did just the trick. And to think I found this life saver at a garage sale for $5.

The electric skillet has certainly lost a lot of momentum since it first came on the market.  They aren't just for frying though.  I can whip up a nice creamy batch of mashed potatoes, as well as the gravy to top them very easily with this appliance.  It reheats leftovers quicker than an oven, and they won't come out quite so dry.  It'll even bake a nice mac and cheese casserole if you leave the temperature low enough.

Of course I utilize my microwave frequently also.  My electric skillet comes in handy on occasion, but tends to stay in the pantry more often than not.  We aren't that big on fried meals.  The adventure of  life without a range top has been so rewarding we have refrained from using the stove also.  These appliances use anywhere from 25% to 70% less wattage than conventional range tops and stoves.  That adds up to a lot of savings on my electric bill.  Maybe we won't need to replace the range after all.

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