This guy knows a thing or two about this stuff.
You may or may not know that right now I live in a room in a backpacker hostel. I mention it because, even during the day, there is a very good chance that anything you decide to leave in the fridges here will go missing, so the manager of the place locks the kitchen up at 9:30pm each night. This has proven to be quite a hassle for me as when I’m not drinking, I am up quite late at night and often get hungry. So I’ve had to improvise.
It started a couple weeks ago when literally all the food I had in the world (apart from noodles which I was right sick of at the time) was potatoes and packet powdered gravy mix. And the idea of mashed potato and gravy that night sounded just wonderful. The only trouble with that idea was that I would obviously need to boil the potatoes so that I could mash them.
My first idea was terrible: I considered putting the potatoes inside my kettle and boiling them that way. I decided against that as I thought perhaps the element might burn out and cause a fire. My second idea was possibly worse: I put the potatoes in a pot and then proceeded to boil one kettle-full of water after another and poured it over the potatoes. After three or so kettle-fulls I realised that if this was going to work it would take hours, but probably wouldn’t work anyway.
My third idea was pure genius: boil the potatoes in my rice cooker.
I was worried the steam might set the fire alarm off.
That might sound ridiculous but, as I will detail here soon, it turns out you can cook bloody near anything in a rice cooker.
I chopped up the potatoes, filled the rice cooker with water and obviously the potatoes, put the lid on and flicked the switch to ‘cook’… and waited. I’m not sure how long it took because it was a wee while ago now, but it wasn’t terribly long. The rice cooker happily heated the water to a boil, and the potatoes happily became soft enough to mash. Now I should mention at this point that I don’t have a potato masher, so again I had to improvise.
This is basically the same thing, right?
So I smooshed up the potatoes right there in the rice cooker bowl, added a bit of diced onion (because I add diced onion to basically everything I cook)…
Pictured: improvised chopping board.
…and rather than boil the jug and risk triggering the fire alarm, I thought “bugger it” and just left some of the hot water in the bowl. That way I could just pour the gravy powder in with the potato and mix it together. That would turn out okay, right?
Uh, well… sure, I guess.
So it wasn’t the most appetising looking meal I’ve ever created, but it actually tasted pretty good! Though I wasn’t terribly impressed when I realised that if I let it go cold it would probably be the worst thing in the world and therefore I had to eat three whole potatoes worth of mash in around twenty minutes.
The next day, as I was cleaning out the bowl, I thought to myself… “What else could I cook in this thing?” and the answer, it turns out, is “basically anything”. I have since used it to cook noodles, soup, pasta and even fried onion/potato and meat patties. Mum suggested I use it as a slow-cooker to make a casserole, which I plan to try next week. Right now I’m considering the pros and cons of attempting to use it to make toast, and it just occurred to me that I could probably use it to make and store a good three-or-so-litres of coffee. Truly its list of applications is endless.
Here it is keeping tonights chicken & corn soup warm.
All in all, I’m pretty stoked with my discovery. Since I’ve started using my rice cooker for basically everything in my life, I’ve not needed to use the kitchen once. I went in there the other day just to wash my hands and remember what using a kitchen was like. Quaint.
But cooking isn’t the only thing in my life that I improvise with. During the hottest days of this most recent summer I used my garden sprayer on myself to cool down. Sometimes when I’m out of clean underwear I wash some with soap in the shower. One of the ways I meter the amount of wine I drink is to pour it from the cask bladder into empty wine bottles so I have a better idea, visually, of how much is gone. I love to play video games, but I often can’t afford the expensive popular ones so I go out of my way to look for the really cheap ones and still get to have a ton of fun. When drunken idiots walk past the backpacker hostel at night screaming and shouting, I shut the window instead of going outside and murdering them. I once fixed a washing machine on my own having zero knowledge of fixing washing machines.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
Now I always say that I’m keen for feedback, but this topic is one I am especially interested in since it’s not quite as heavy as some of the other things I’ve written about. I’d really like to know the types of things you’ve improvised yourself or heard of others doing! Let me know in the comments here or on Twitter! I’m thinking of making a giant bowl full of bacon and egg pie mix (minus the pastry) sometime next week by the way, maybe I’ll let you all know how that goes if I decide to do it.
As always, thanks for reading you guys. <3