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How Do You Make Dinner when the Fridge is in the Living Room and the Microwave’s Downstairs?

Tiny Basement Kitchenette

Tiny Basement Kitchenette

The kitchen area looks like photos of London during the Blitz.  But still, you gotta eat. It took me a couple of weeks to begin to come to grips with the idea of cooking at home without an actual kitchen.

It’s really not practical to eat every meal out for 6 weeks.  And that includes calling out for delivery.  You get pretty tired of cold food, although I think this will be the week of cereal suppers with maybe a foray to the neighborhood hamburger joint.  Since I have joined Bill in the gluten free camp this month, we’ll take our own buns to the restaurant.

That’s one of the problems with eating out—dietary restrictions on gluten and dairy products can make restaurant eating both challenging and somewhat disappointing.  I can adapt almost any recipe to our needs at home, but the only solution at many restaurants is to avoid most of the yummy sounding selections for steamed broccoli and to eschew dessert altogether.

We hit the Whole Foods deli counter a couple of times.  But what looked good was also pretty pricey.  And again, many selections just weren’t gluten or dairy free.  Using a friend or a relative’s kitchen has been a helpful alternative.  Bill and I have had several great dinners prepared in the condo in the sky’s amazing modern kitchen and eaten overlooking City Park at sunset.

I keep remembering my one meal from Josie’s NYC West with longing, but even they don’t deliver to Denver as far as I know.

I’ve been happy with the potatoes I’ve fixed in the toaster oven turned to the convection setting.  Cut in half and sprayed with a little cooking oil, they are brown and crispy after half an hour at 450 degrees.

The toaster oven is perched on the counter of the downstairs kitchenette-like area close to the microwave and the one burner induction cooktop we bought last fall to try out this new technology.  Halfway through the remodel, I have begun to approach this tiny retro space for more than just a knife to slice a piece of cheese for a sandwich.  The secret to ease of preparation and keeping the mess to a minimum seems to be that old standby, the crockpot.

I started out with a very simple assemblage of vegetables—cabbage, new potatoes, and carrots–and corned beef, inspired by the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.  Wow.  A real meal emerged from our basement kitchenette.  We were eating home cooked meals again at home!

Now to expand my repertoire.

My main goal is to keep it simple and at the same time tasty and nourishing.  I’ve had the most fun so far with a gluten free, dairy free macaroni and cheese dish make in the crockpot.

Crock Pot Macaroni and CheeseGluten free, dairy free crockpot mac and cheese


Cooking oil spray

2 cups almond milk

1 cup soy or other dairy free creamer

1 egg or ¼ cup egg substitute

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 cups cheddar flavor Daiya shreds

2 cups uncooked Tinkyada macaroni or penne


Spray the pot of the slow cooker or if using a liner bag, spray the bag well.  Gently whisk together liquids, egg, salt and pepper in crockpot.  Add Daiya shreds and uncooked Tinkyada macaroni or penne. Stir to mix.

Turn slow cooker on low and cook 3+ hours, or until the custard is set and the macaroni is tender.  The Tinkyada pasta holds up very well, but do not overcook.

If you have any wonderfully simple recipes to share with those of us who are remodeling our kitchens this spring, please comment below.

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