A Cook without a Kitchen: Hotel Microwave Cuisines for the Win!


We moved last summer, and to be honest, it felt like we’d been moving all summer. I love to move. The possibilities of a new community, a new house, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends makes me happy. When we move, (you will think I am crazy) I also get excited about a new kitchen. The kitchen is home to me. It’s my happy place. And during a PCS move, I am a cook without a kitchen.

I might take over your kitchen.

We stayed with my parents for two weeks during our PCS, and the last week of our stay, my parents left for a planned vacation. My husband and I were alone in our family’s house and my husband looked at me and said, “Well, your mom left, and she didn’t leave any food.”

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His words were like some kind of call to action for me. I immediately went to the cook book shelf, made a list, went to the grocery store, returned from the grocery store, and began cooking. My mother called later that day and asked what I was doing and I excitedly gave her the list of the six dishes I had prepared. There was food in the freezer, food in the crock pot, food in the oven and food simmering on the stove. It was a little crazy, but my husband was extremely happy.

The kitchen is home to me…any kitchen! My mother-in-law says I should make this fact public information and I would have invitations to stay anywhere I like. It is true, if I stay at your house for any length of time, at some point I’ll probably cook something…or a whole meal.

I cook in hotel rooms, too! Have you ever done this?

Once, when we were in a hotel in Kansas for an extended amount of time, I grew tired of eating out and I started cooking scrambled eggs with bacon, chopped green chilies, and cheese in the microwave. My husband nearly applauded the first morning I made them. He calls them “PCS Eggs.”

Here are the items you need for PCS Eggs:

Cooking spray
Two eggs, or one egg yolk and one whole egg
Real bacon pieces, or pre-cooked bacon strips
Two paper bowls (the soak proof kind)
A plastic fork
One paper towel

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Whisk the eggs (or one egg and one egg yolk) in a paper bowl along with the bacon pieces. Coat the second paper bowl with cooking spray. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl coated with cooking spray, and place in the bowl in the microwave. Cover with the paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Check for doneness and cook for an additional 20 seconds. If needed, microwave at 10 second intervals until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

But be careful! Hotel microwave temperatures vary a lot, and eggs can get rubbery and inedible very quickly.

Possible mix-ins: shredded cheese, canned chopped green chilies, chopped onions, chopped peppers, spinach, chopped ham. The sky is the limit (well, the microwave is the limit, really!)

Possible toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, tomato sauce

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Four years ago, my husband and I were in a hotel for longer than usual in a part of the country famous for BBQ sauce. Tired of eating out (again), I went to the grocery store purchased some vegetables, a rotisserie chicken, and some BBQ sauce. I steamed the vegetables, tossed the vegetables, chicken and BBQ sauce in a bowl and made BBQ bowls! It wasn’t a fancy meal but it wasn’t from a restaurant, and I had chopped and steamed a portion of the meal so it felt like mine.

Vegetables you can steam for hotel room vegetable bowls include: broccoli, potatoes, carrots, corn, peppers, cauliflower and spinach. Many of these vegetables are available in steamer bags in the frozen food section of the grocery store and are also available in the produce department in steamer bags. You can even buy steamer bags so you can chop and make your own mix of veggies to steam! Purchase a rotisserie chicken or other prepared protein of your choice from the deli and find a BBQ, teriyaki, or other flavorful sauce for a healthy meal option while traveling.

A word of caution about steaming broccoli (as you may know): broccoli can be a bit smelly while steaming. My apologies to our hotel neighbors!

While traveling to our new duty station, when we aren’t spending time with family, we were in hotel rooms. I found myself slicing heirloom tomatoes from farmer’s markets with a plastic knife to improve a supermarket salad, mixing fresh berries into microwave oatmeal, and trying to think of new ways to test the limits of a hotel microwave! At one hotel, my husband excitedly pointed out that the hotel had a very nice grill. I may have to test my grilling skills on our next PCS move!

What do you do to find a sense of home in the middle of a move?

Ann HPosted by Ann Hamilton, Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager

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