Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Kitchenette

To the gentle reader and the beloved audience,

Now that life is settling into a comfortable rhythm again, how am I going to cook in a hotel room?  I've hardly cooked or baked since Mr H left for boot camp in mid-March - yes, I had the opportunity to make a few dinners and some fun desserts here and there, but between the frenetic chaos of packing and moving, and not making a regular three meals a day like I had done before, my cooking dwindled down sadly.  But now that I am in Illinois, so let me go back and set the stage for you...

During boot camp, Mr H met a shipmate around the same age, also Christian, who was married as well.  They thought their wives should get in touch to figure out travel plans for the upcoming graduation, so Mr H sent me her contact information, and his shipmate sent my contact information to his wife.  Immediately up receiving this information, we were texting each other a hundred times a day and calling constantly, comparing notes and things our husbands told us about boot camp and supporting each other, discussing fears and hopes and babies.  We hit it off perfectly.  The night before the graduation in Illinois, she and I stayed in the same hotel and talked all night (not a wink of sleep for us!).  She helped me fix my hair in the morning and we drove to graduation (my mom, Mr H's parents, and Little Chester came to the graduation as well!), and sat through the entire graduation cheering for our husbands and crying and clutching each other for strength.

Mrs P and I couldn't stand the thought of leaving our husbands again, now that we knew we could spend some time with them.  She drove back home (she lived only eight hours away) to tie up loose ends at home, turn in her two-week's notice at work, and pack a few things into her car.  Likewise, I flew home to Washington and packed my car, arriving back in Illinois on a Friday evening in mid-May; she arrived the following Saturday evening.

We are staying together in the hotel on base - we can leave at a moment's notice if need be, or stay longer as the training may require.  We both brought a few dishes, some clothes (I have one suitcase with me!), and a few personal items.  I brought a few beloved cookbooks - it was hard to choose which ones to bring!  I managed to narrow the list down to my top ten...

Planning menus with a limited kitchen and a restricted budget gives me a chance
to flex my creative arm ... it was a comforting taste of home to sit down with my
homey cookbooks and perform the familiar ritual of selecting new recipes for the
menus, and making my grocery-shopping list!   
The first hotel room we were staying in temporarily did not have a kitchenette, so she and I were mixing potato salad sitting on the floor, making sandwiches on top of the cooler, and washing utensils in the bathroom sink.  We booked a room with a kitchenette, however, and moved all of our belongings across the grassy courtyard to the new hotel room.  It was a wild adventure; the Good Lord sent us a maintenance man who was willing to help - he carried everything down the two flights of stairs and loaded it onto a garden cart. We would have spent half the day moving things (as it was, we were dripping with sweat!) but, with his assistance, we finished in under an hour.  The only damage done was a basket of muffins that toppled from the cart and hit the deck, and a bag of onions that escaped and rolled chuckling in ten separate directions.  And I shall never forget Mrs P staggering under the weight of a closet full of clothes and leaving hangers scattered across the parking lot like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs!

Moving our belongings from the first hotel room we stayed
in to the new one ... It was a hot day!

Our hotel room has a little kitchenette - a mini-fridge with a micro-freezer inside, a small sink, two low-output stove burners, and a few cupboards.  I've gone from buying flour in 50-pound bags to five-pound bags!  Grocery shopping is a whole new adventure as we plan menus for a limited kitchen, and I don't have my wonderful contacts with local farmers and co-ops any more.  But every new challenge is a delight for me to try and conquer; just give me permission to cook is all I ask, and I don't care about the facilities ... I'll make them work!

The first dinner we made in the hotel was Simple Onion Soup (except I had no boullion or broth, so I sauteed lots of seasonings Mrs P and I had brought from home - garlic salt, basil, oregano, Ozark Seasoning from Penzeys - in hot oil, before adding the sliced onions).  We topped it with farfalle pasta (farfalle is Italian for butterfly!) and served it with some Trader Joe's crackers.  Yes, there is a Trader Joe's within half-an-hour of the hotel - needless to say, I was more than thrilled to find it!

I am excited to test new recipes and explore my options in our tiny kitchen.  It is an honor to cook for my husband and I look forward to making him delicious dinners again - it's such a good feeling, it's been so long since I've been able to cook for him!

Whisk in hand, apron at the ready,

Mrs H
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Next: Life in a hotel room - making do ... 



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