Lounge camping, redux

Against my original fears that getting a new kitchen would propel us into three weeks of eating out daily (a cost not typically figured into your friendly – or not so friendly – kitchen quote), halfway through the process I’m pretty impressed with how you can eat when the room-formerly-known-as-kitchen looks like this:

Of course it’s important that somewhere else in the house (like the lounge) you have a set up which looks something like this:

And what you can do! (do you feel this growing into a pitch for a new food show? Makeover homes meets “see how easy it is!” A goldmine waiting to happen.)

We’ve eaten lamb tagine with couscous and beetroot-ginger-and-mint salad (OK, I cooked the tagine in a last minute panic before we lost the stove, but the couscous was made on this table with just a bowl, some hot water, a glug of olive oil, and a fork for fluffing. See how easy it is!).

Obviously there has been microwave popcorn too, but none of that supermarket-bought business. Just kernels in a glass bowl, a little knob of butter, top with a plate, nuke until you’ve got a full portion of fluffiness, top with some melted butter (I hate how dry MW popcorn get), salt and paprika, and that’s that.

Yesterday was a righteous salad with microwaved chicken strips. This is probably the first real “cooking” I’ve done in the box, in the sense of transforming something from raw to cooked, and I was sceptical. But no need: I marinated the strips in a chunky pesto (basil and anchovies chopped as finely as possible by hand, mixed with olive oil, salt, freshly squeezed orange), then cooked them for probably 6 mins total on medium heat (turning and rearranging throughout: the outside of the plate always cooks faster). The chicken turned out super tender – almost as if Heston Blumenthal himself had spent 36 hours brining and doing whatever else he does to birds.

With the salad, some crouton toasties made with these pretty funky “non-stick re-usable toaster bags“. I wouldn’t have believed it either, but you put your two slices of bread plus filling (last night: a drizzle of olive oil and pecorino shavings) into the bag, put the whole thing in the toaster, and: snackwich!

Dessert: a sampler of two kinds of ice-cream, made not in the microwave nor the toaster, but sitting on the floor with a bowl and a hand-held mixer (the floor promised least splatter). One was Nigella’s margarita ice-cream (cream, sugar, tequila, triple sec and lime), and the other was my version of the same, though flavoured with my uncle Palle’s homemade cherry jam and a good glug of port. Great ice-creams because they involve no churning machine, and no second/third/fourth stirring either: just whip it up to soft peak, freeze, and eat. Though egg-free, it’s rich (frozen cream!), but you don’t complain when times are hard.