KP : Kitchen Patrol? Not really.

15 May

[George continues his recounting of life on the road and in the kitchen….ee]

Right now we’re staying in Hans and Edith’s Vienna apartment.  Its kitchen is spacious, well equipped, and, with a big window, well lit — a trifecta shared by only Evy’s Andros apartment once we gave it a microwave.  (Yes, yes, I know, they’re superfluous, but if you freeze much broth or drink your morning coffee slowly, a microwave comes in handy.  I wish I’d learn how to cook veggies in one.)

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Stoves and ovens.

The local technology in each country has provided us with simple, usually flawed electric stove tops with pretty good ovens, and when our stars shine (in Vienna and Portugal), gas stoves.  I sent the following description of the weird elements on a see-through stove that was a bit worse than normal to the owners of our apartment in Barcelona:

I use a gas stove top, so the electrical stove top is a real  novelty for me.  I thought that a rheostat would make it possible to vary the heat of the elements.  Here they are either on or off, but serially and not very conveniently.  The stove has right and left top and right and left bottom elements.
 
At 1, in the 1st and 2nd minute, only the top right element works, it is bright red.
 
At 2, in the 1st minute, the top left element is hot, the top right element is bright red, in the 2nd minute the top right element alternates off and on.

At 3, in the 1st minute, the top left is bright red on but usually off, the top right element is usually on but sometimes alternating.  The lower left element is bright red.

At 4, the top left element is on and off bright red, the top right element is usually bright red but also sometimes off, the bottom left element is bright red for the first minute and on and off bright red for the second minute.
 
The lower right element never turned on.

In short, the clever cook will spend a few minutes in the first evening checking which elements can boil water and what settings will simmer.  Keep notes and plan your cooking accordingly.  If you’re not used to electric cooking, keep in mind that the element is brilliantly hot for a few moments, then off for a few moments.  Someone will make a fortune when they re-introduce the rheostat. [EE: As you can tell, we do not like electric cooking, and George always assumes that everyone else feels the same way, and that no one in America has had to deal with electric cooking!]

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Most of the ovens have had convection fans, believe it or not.  I understand that there’s a terrific benefit, but I only ever made biscuits and roast chicken.

Our Meals.

Breakfast.  We traveled with a French press, coffee, and a mixing wand.     Several of our apartments had single-shot fancy coffee makers, but we never used them.  I can barely boil water before a cup of coffee, so the press worked perfectly.  One-cup filters would work well, too.  The filters are routinely available in the grocery stores.

My breakfast was usually coffee, soft-boiled eggs, and some version of toast.  Toasters are rare;  jaffa-makers don’t really work, but if you use only a bit of oil and butter, you can toast bread in a frying pan pretty well.  Eventually I got so I would tolerate plain bread.  Erika had coffee and sometimes a smoothie — goat or sheep yogurt, berries or pear, and banana (have I mentioned that I despise this perfect  fruit — portable, cheap, routinely available, tidy as, healthy, tasty if you don’t mind banana — that I had as a snack nearly daily for years).  Otherwise, she had muesli.

It takes some looking to find unsweetened juice, so we often just juiced our own oranges.  The goat or sheep’s milk products for Erika’s wonky stomach are usually in the better stores and easily found the farther south you travel.  Eggs sell half and full dozen, but you can get them singly at the markets — what a pleasure to take a small paper bag full of eggs home nestled amidst the lettuce and spinach!

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Lunch.  When I could, I’d shop for both lunch and dinner in the morning.  We’d have a substantial lunch and a light dinner.  Often we were out and about starting at about 10:00 and would have lunch in a cafe or restaurant.  When we did, we generally shared a first course and a salad.

Dinner.  Served next Tues.  I need some photos of the markets.

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