Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just like mom use to make it!

*Note to self-smoked haddock leaves fishy taste in your mouth. rinse mouth immediately. (2mins later) ahhhhh, thank you toothpaste for getting that taste out of my mouth. I, for the most part, never have problems with any kind of food. I take pride in trying new foods and tastes, but this particular fish I had for breakfast at my hotel, was the most repulsive thing I put in my mouth in long time. But the old couple i was sitting next to ordered the same thing and was raving that this particular dish was good. "better then usual,not so salty" says the old man with his fancy welsh accent. (btw, Welsh is one of heaviest accents I've heard. its up there with Liverpool-maybe worse). This makes me sound like a hater and I'm not. I've meet the nicest people in Wales. Its just like i said note to self.
So, lets get on with the program and talk about cooking. I know this says "cooking in hotel rooms blah blah blah" but sometimes i will cook outside of my hotel room. Gasp! shocked? who am i kidding, anybody who is reading my "blog" are my friends and have known me for years (except for Star in the office who i met very briefly-she might be reading this). Sometimes, i get lucky and have the opportunity to cook at location and for the rest of crew. And when i say "cook" it can mean assembling various things and heating it up. This time its grilled cheese! And every time i think of grilled cheese it makes me think of you Lindsay. okay moving on. So, Megan, my trusted co-pilot, sous chef, keeper of time, is coming with me to Morrisons (its like Ralph's but better) an hour before my call time. Before i go, i make a metal note of all the things i need, bread, cheese, butter, you know the usual suspects. Quick and Simple right? A-ah, i can't decide from wheat or white, block of cheese or sliced and salted or unsalted butter. At one point, I'm reading the label of i can't remember what! So, here comes Megan, making quick decisions and gently rushing me towards the counter. After several minutes of fumbling through the self check out counter, we made it out in 40 minutes. At the location, i carve out a little nook for my cooking in the "kitchen" area. I'm using " " because it only has a mini fridge and a sink. Carrying on, Megan is helping me with cutting of avocado, tomatoes, red onions while i butter the bread and assembly cheese for 10 hungry crew. I'm making some with tomatoes and avocado. Here is where it starts to get little problematic. First, i used the good pan to heat up the tomato & basil soup i bought at the store. Too small to hold all the soup but I'm thinking maybe this is enough for all 10 Hungry guys. Soup aside, i use the other pan that is actually meant for soups to grill cheese. I guess it would have been alright if the pan just held heat evenly but since it was made of thinner metal it stated to just burn the butter on one side of the bread. I'm thinking Holy shit, the freken cheese is not melting and its making way too much smoke coming out of the pan. I'm panicking mentally. This is when Megan slides in out of nowhere, looks down and the pan and looks at me and back to looking down at the pan. "Maybe i should open these windows before it sets off the fire alarm" she says worryingly. Somehow, after pushing the bread around the pan, I manage to get the first 2 breads evenly toasted and cheese melted. But there was no way i can finish the remaining 8. So Megan and I quickly change out the soup pan to the good pan. only down side is the good pan can only grill one at a time. By this time, crew is walking in to the kitchen filled with butter and melted cheese aroma, which only makes them even more hungry. I tried to make it as quickly as i can but you can't have grilled cheese if the cheese isn't melted. Slowly but surly, cheese is melting and bread is nice and toasty with butter i was making better grilled cheese by the 5th one. ( sorry for the guys who ate 1-4th one). With only 3 fingers slightly burned, i finished all 10 in less than an hour. Everyone seems to enjoy and i think Chris said it was the best grilled cheese since his childhood or maybe his only grilled cheese since childhood? He speaks so softly that I just nod and take it as a compliment.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First real meal

The day we arrived in Nottingham, my friend Tyson and I decided to browse thru Tesco . Unlike my last Tesco, which was a GIANT supermarket, this one was a superette. But its been over a week since my last cooking experiment so i decided to do a little browsing. Surprise! Right away my eyes land on this beautiful bold brown portobello mushroom and I was starting to get excited. After walking up and down four aisles, in my basket I had asparagus tips, Smoked Mackerel, a couple of cans of chicken soup, minced garlic and chili paste in a tube (very convenient for me-thanks Tesco!). The next day, my call time for work wasn't until late afternoon so i thought it was the perfect time for me to try cooking. My set-up is very simple. I just have one frying pan, a wooden spoon, a knife, along with a hot plate. My cooking method has only one factor. Since I only have one pan, less washing in between is key. So fish had to be last. I started with some chicken soup only using the broth to cook the lentils. About 10 minutes and lots of steam it was done. Second, i cut up thick slices of portobello mushrooms (2 caps) and a quick rinse of my pan, added some olive oil and let it get real hot. After few minutes, i dropped the mushrooms in and it began to sizzle. I was excited that it was hot enough to sizzle but then i got paranoid that it might get too smokey and set off the fire alarm. So i grabbed my towel and blocked the doorway. By this time, my 'shrooms have wilted down so i added a pinch of kosher salt, pepper, squeeze of garlic and splash of soy sauce. As soon as the garlic hit the pan, there was no turning back. I don't know about you but i love garlic and how it smells. It immediately takes me to that happy place. It was really hard not to just eat it all up but I set my garlicky mushrooms aside with the lentils. Quick wipe and on to the fish. Since it was already cooked my job was already half done. After heating the pan, add the fish give it some time to brown a quick squeeze of chili and a pinch of salt. Let me just tell you, mackerel is one of my favorite fish, its got tons of good fish oil and a real buttery taste. So on my paper plate, i helped myself to a good portion of lentils, mushrooms and piece of my delicious fish! One word, Two syllables. YUM-MY!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fresh Start!

My name is Nancy and i travel the world for work 7 months out of the year. Which means i am mostly living out of a suitcase and in hotel rooms. When I'm home I love to cook and buy fresh produce at the local farmers market. Over the past year, I have incorporated my love of cooking with local ingredients anywhere i was lucky enough to find a kitchen. This year i decided to bring my own luck and bring the kitchen with me. Armed with a hot plate, wooden spoon and a pan, my mission is to create a home cooked meal, in my hotel room.
I decided to do a test run, to first see how hot the pan could get, and everyone knows you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs first... So I started by boiling eggs, my first problem was that the water didn't come to a complete boil. not knowing how this could affect my eggs, i let it sit there little longer the usual and it worked. my eggs were completely done. So next i tried my stir-fry from Tesco super market. Because of my heating issues it took a little longer but Voila it worked. I am really excited to try more daring cooking from now on.