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Old 02-07-2008, 09:04 AM   #1
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Strange Scenario - No oven, limited hardware...


Just stumbled onto this forum and I love it! Thought it would be a great place to try and find a little help for my current living situation:

I'm a music student living in Poland, and in my new apartment I have only one small pot, one large soup pot, two frying pans, and a stove top. No oven, nothing fancy as far as hardware goes (grills, griddles, slow cookers, blenders, etc. etc.).

For the last 6 months I feel like I've been relatively creative with my meal-planning. You can get almost any normal groceries here in Poland (except for peanut butter, oddly enough...), so I've been making a nice but small variety of soups, pasta dishes, and the like. Here's been my normal repetoire:

-spicy chicken
-potato and leek
-potato and kielbasa
-beef, barley, and mushrooms
-chicken noodle

-chicken broccoli and ziti
-breaded chicken and a honey-mustard sauce over pasta
-chicken and sauteed mushrooms w/cream over pasta
-pasta carbonara

-breaded chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, and a veggie
-any variation of the pasta dishes, but over rice
-chicken curry salad
-tuna salad
-stir fry
-and my favorite don't-feel-like-cooking-meal, rice, tuna, kidney beans, and corn, all mixed up together with a little soy sauce and mayo. tastes much better than it sounds...and perfect poor-man/music student food :)

The problem is...after 6 months of rotating through the same eight or so meals, (since chicken + mushrooms over pasta is strikingly similar to chicken + broccoli over pasta after half a year...), I've burnt out on these meals and can't think of anything else to cook! My limited hardware makes it worse - I feel like if I had my trusty crockpot from the states, or an oven to bake/broil with, I'd have less of a problem.

So, any suggestions? Is there a realm of cooking and foods that I've just totally forgotten? I love to cook and have plenty of time to do it, it's just that I have no more drive to make the same type of meals over and over again.

Looking forward to all your help!



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Old 02-07-2008, 09:38 AM   #2
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you can do a lot with a Dutch Oven on a stove top. A heavy cast iron pot with lid, enameled if possible. Great for slow simmered stews and dishes.

Bean dishes with pork and or sausage, stews with beef and vegetables using cheaper cuts of meat. Something you could make on a weekend and eat for several days. Vary your starches if available with couscous, bulgar wheat, kasha, etc.

THose wonderful root vegetables like turnips parsnips,and rutabagas go great in stews, taking on the flavors of meats and adding their own sweetness.

Lots of things to try. Enjoy!

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Old 02-07-2008, 09:45 AM   #3
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Use the fry pans. Saute some pork chops or chicken breast, there's a bazillion recipes for those. Sides of rice or sauteed veggies.

Stay away from stews and pastas and you'll be fine.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:19 AM   #4
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I say start cooking polish food, have you tried Bigos(Bigus)? I say you should it is awesome, especialy right now in the winter. No special equipment required. Good luck.
You are what you eat.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:30 AM   #5
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Oh, I know and love bigos! It's great. I have also mastered handmade pierogi. Polish cooking is wonderful!

I guess I'm just looking for suggestions that don't involve sauteed chicken with pasta/rice. Mixing up my soups though with some nice root vegetable ones does sounds great, though.

Thanks for all the input so far!
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:54 AM   #6
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Plain ol sauteed whatever will get boring. You need to spice it up with different sauces or toppings.

Chicken breast with a sauteed mushroom butter sauce topped with fresh sage and a side of wild rice.

Pork chops with sliced apples, vidalia onion and brown sugar, mashed potatoes on the side.

Strip steaks with asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:59 AM   #7
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Check out this site: Kalyn's Kitchen She does primarily South Beach Diet-oriented low-carb recipes, and has some vegetarian soups and stews that look pretty hearty. If you can get flour and/or corn tortillas, you can make wraps and all kinds of Tex-Mex-style dishes. HTH.
The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again. ~ George Miller
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:06 PM   #8
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Buy (or probably make) some Cajun Blackened Seasoning. Blacken up whatever kind of meat you like, and serve that, over white rice, or preferably, jamabalaya or dirty rice. Heck, make the Jambalaya a one-pot meal, and add some extra meats to it (I usually do chicken, kielbasa, ham, shrimp, and if I'm lucky, crab). How about Gumbo?

Ok, time to get off the Cajun kick (I love Cajun food, please forgive me).

If you can get tortillas, how about quesadillas?

Can you get a toaster oven in that part of the world?

Can you get any decent fish? Fish stew, pan-roasted fish steaks/fillets, etc.

How about pan-fried meats? Chicken-fried steaks, chicken fried chicken breasts, pan-fried fish, etc.
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:54 AM   #9
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If you can find a camping or boating cookbook, you will find recipes for baking breads and cakes in the soup pot -- butter the pan well, put in your biscuits, bread, cake, cook on low until done. The bottom browns and the top remains pale. A heat diffuser under the pan is helpful for doing this. Also, it would be possible to slow simmer soups, stews, etc., over very low heat over the diffuser.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:49 AM   #10
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Welcome to DC Explorr!!

Too many restaurants, not enough time...
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