Today was launch day for my third cookbook, Gourmet on a Hot Plate: Tiny Kitchen Tips and Recipes. The tips and recipes combine my lifelong love of cooking, wisdom and practicality of my mom, and my experience of cooking in a tiny kitchen for over two years. No stove, no microwave, no InstaPot, no air fryer. Just me, my hot plate, my toaster oven, and an electric coffeepot.
Gone, for me, are the days of elaborate meals for twenty, the Coquille St. Jacque for eight (the most complicated recipe I ever followed, I think, but it was a roaring success—a friend said she’d traveled the world and never had a better meal.) These days I entertain for happy hour—some great appetizer recipes—and light suppers, like skillet stroganoff or a cold salmon and potato salad platter. There are new and different salads, including a section on composed salads—no, not Jell-O salads from the sixties. A chef friend tells me the most valuable part of the whole book is my clear explanation of charcuteries, cheese platters, and antipasto and how to create them. Confession: there are no dessert recipes, since I cannot make a pie to save my life, though I made a good apple crisp for a guest the other night and have been known to make a galette of mixed berries.
The “mom” part. My mother was a tremendous cook, and she set the pattern for large dinner parties, often cooking for my dad’s professional colleagues. Mom encouraged me in the kitchen, and by the time I was ten or twelve I was her sous chef and dishwasher. While she sparkled at the dinner table, I cleaned the kitchen—and loved doing it. To this day, I clean as I cook—can’t stand to be faced with a disaster of a kitchen late at night, or heaven forbid, the next morning.
Mom loved the story of a childless friend who came by while a girlfriend and I were making cookies. I hadn’t learned the clean-up lesson yet, and the kitchen was a mess—cabinets open, dishes piled in the sink, flour everywhere. The visitor asked, “How can you let them make such a mess?” Mom replied, “If I don’t, they’ll never learn to cook.”
Finally, there’s my cottage cooking. It was my choice not to have a microwave or InstaPot—my brother actually gave me the latter, but I gave it to my daughter and her husband (he’s the real cook). Counter space is just too limited. I’ve learned to cook on what I have—and to reheat leftovers, which is trickier. The first time Jordan and I tried to use the hot plate was hysterical—we put a lamb chop in the pan, pressed the heat button, and waited. Nothing. Jordan poked, she held her hand over it to feel the heat, she jiggled the pan. Then we saw the start button!
An ultimate compliment on my cooking: my former prof and current writing mentor—we’ve been friends for forty years–occasionally came for lunch when I was housebound, and he said once that he continued to be amazed at the meals I turn out. It’s all in the cookbook.
Now, having raved about cooking, it’s a breakfast-for-dinner (brinner) kind of an evening. I see bacon and scrambled eggs on my menu tonight. It’s been a lazy day—I got the cookbook up and for sale, though I had a bit of trouble with platforms other than Amazon, and I spent much of the day working on my Alamo book. Sophie spent a rigorous day defending me from the neighbor’s chickens, those vicious things 😊 And, yes, I’m still in my pjs. A delicious day in a lot of ways.
Get Gourmet on a Hot Plate in print or ebook at Amazon!