Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hardship Homemaking - Turned Up To 11!

I've long been a fan of the Hardship Homemaking blog, which gives recipes for how to make common American foods and household products with the less-than-ordinary products one finds overseas.  However, I'm faced with a more interesting challenge: how to cook with no stove.

You see, in our residences in Tripoli, we have refrigerators but no stoves, sinks but no plates, and electrical outlets but no microwaves.  All of our meals are provided in a common dining hall, and while the food is certainly fine, and I acknowledge that I'm incredibly lucky to have this service provided for us, sometimes you just want something homemade and familiar.  Or sometimes you've had a tough day and you just want to take a knife to a stack of vegetables rather than your coworkers.  So what's a girl to do when she's jonesing for curry or pizza or pasta?

Yesterday I did a quick survey of the housewares section of a large grocery store in Tripoli.  I spotted a knock-off George Foreman grill, a rice cooker, and a few hot plates, among other various kitchen tools.  I think, with some creativity, another shopping run, and perhaps some assistance starting a charcoal grill, I can make a few tasty things to soothe my cooking itch.  So, who's got some good suggestions for how to bake bread on a grill, or how to make soup in a rice cooker?  Do crock pots even exist outside of middle America, and can I find one that's European plugged to use in my kitchen?


  1. I have a book of rice cooker recipes that gives you everything from pilafs to desserts. It also covers the range of cookers out there (basic to sings-you-songs). I highly recommend it:
    I think it has a recipe for baking bread... I'll have to check.

    1. Sorry, no bread, but the subtitle of the book is "250 no-fail recipes for pilafs, risotto, polenta, chilis, soups, porridges, puddings and more."

  2. Oh, a crock pot would be perfect! I hope you can find one...if I come across one in my searches, I will let you know.

  3. It would be nice to have a slow cooker. You can make almost anything in those. I typed in European slow cooker and got a couple hits on amazon. Not sure if they'd be any good. I used a rice cooker, slow cooker, and foreman type grill during our hotel evac months. We had a microwave but I think if I had to choose one or the other I'd go for a hot plate over a microwave. I make soup and beans in our rice cooker all the time. Pretty much anything you can make on the stove, you can make in the rice cooker. You just have to experiment more. You can cook stuff like banana bread in a dish in a water bath in a rice cooker too. I saw a blogger in China who made pizza in a rice cooker. Here's the link.

    Also my friend in Taiwan used to steam carrots and potatoes in the rice cooker and mash them into mashed potatoes.

    Good luck! You'll have to submit some of your recipes to HHomemaker once you get them figured out!

  4. We have the same rice cooker cookbook Leslie recommends and can also recommend it. Between a crockpot and rice cooker you can definitely get most meals made. Here's a blog we've followed about a daily challenge to use a crockpot and I know she made cakes or breads or something like that:

    I also heartily echo Becky's invitation to submit something to HH once you've got a few tricks up your sleeve.

  5. We ended up buying a large transformer (5000 W) converter to take with us from post to post. It is always dedicated to the kitchen. It's been great for using the crock pot, big pancake griddle, our US rice cooker/vegetable steamer, my kitcheaide mixer, etc. And, I love being able to plug in a few US appliances at the same time, hence 5000w. Highly recommend getting one to have throughout your FS years.

    Though it sounds like the rice cooker is very versatile. And to think, we've been just using it for rice - who knew.

  6. Thanks for the links, folks! I just ordered a few European-plugged cooking gadgets from Amazon. Hopefully they'll be here via pouch in 4-6 weeks. Meanwhile, I'll be going to the grocery store later this week to get supplies.

    @Becky and Lynne - once I get set up i'll be sure to contribute recipes and pictures! I'm also contemplating making a tandoor oven in the sand lot outside my house. Instructions to follow, for those who are exceptionally desperate to cook at post!

    @TSR - I eventually will do that so I can use all of my appliances wherever I am, but the problem in Tripoli is that I could only bring four suitcases in to last me for a year, with no UAB - so all of my cookware is currently hiding in a storage unit somewhere in Rotterdam.

  7. You can always do a dutch oven on your grill! I made everything that way in the Peace Corps. I got a huge pot, lined it with rocks, put it in the grill to let it "pre-heat" and then put what ever you want to bake in there. I even made banana bread a few times!

  8. Rice cooker article by Roger Ebert. We have a book he wrote by the same name -

    We cook pretty much all the grains we eat in a rice cooker. I LOVE them! No idea what you have access to, but quinoa, risotto, other grain with some soft cheese and herbs is a pretty easy and tasty start.