Sequestering Without a Stove
by Jennie Lou Harriman
When I lost my home suddenly during the COVID-19 situation, the house I moved into needed a stove. I didn’t feel comfortable, or have the energy while moving, to go out shopping for one, so I used my creative problem solving skills. This whole experience has gotten me even closer to using “back to basics” skills. When I’m not writing, I teach arts and crafts classes for children and people with disabilities. I love teaching “back to basics” classes: sewing, woodworking, and cooking. You never know when you might need them, as many people have learned this spring.
When it came to eating when I first moved into the new house, I ate some food that didn’t need to be cooked. To stay as healthy as possible with a disability, I mostly eat whole foods close to their natural state. I do not purchase many processed or prepared foods. You don’t need a stove to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheese, granola or yogurt.
And to cook, all I needed was heat. My biggest challenge–I love tea. Tea makes everything better. If it had been summer, I could have made sun tea by putting water and tea bags in a glass jar on the porch. But it had been a wet, chilly spring, and I wanted hot tea to warm me up. The first few days, I heated my tea water in a slow cooker. It took a loooong time, but helped me work on staying calm and patient during this hectic time. I also used the slow cooker to cook rice, sweet potatoes, and soup. I even baked a loaf of whole grain bread in it!
I have a little Jet Boil stove for camping. I thought I knew right where it was, because I knew I would need it for tea. But you know how it goes with moving…which box was that in?? I was so excited when I found it! This lightweight one-burner gas stove is one of the best cooking investments I’ve ever made. And it heats water in one or two minutes. Yay for tea! I also cooked oatmeal by pouring boiling water over a bowl of oats and putting a cover on it. I did the same with frozen peas.
I didn’t have internet for over a week. In fact, I christened this 30-year-old house with Internet when I had it installed. That was an important reminder to me during this time. Not everyone has internet. I enjoyed that week with little online access. I limited my phone data usage to save money, only using it to check work email and do a bit of research for a stove. It was refreshing, especially since my new house is in the country, and I hadn’t lived in the country since I sold my house in Vermont and moved to Tennessee four years ago. I feel more myself than I have in years–less getting caught in the worldwide web and more observing plants and creatures coming to life in the spring.
Once I had full internet access I did more research, and after contemplating the pros and cons, decided to purchase a nontraditional stove. My kitchen is small, so I ordered a countertop oven that doubles as a dehydrator. But due to slow delivery times, it took three weeks to arrive. During that time, I borrowed a Pampered Chef grill from my aunt and uncle (it was electric or could be used with charcoal) and did all kinds of creative cooking. Some of my favorite meals were: grilled salmon with a spicy maple syrup glaze, whole grain blueberry pancakes, and tomatillos sautéed in bacon fat.
One day I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie. I decided to take on the challenge of cookie making without an oven. I don’t eat many sweets, so even with a typical oven, I don’t often make a whole batch of cookies. Usually, I just want one or two. So here’s a recipe that not only satisfies a craving for a small family, it proves that chocolate chip cookies can be baked on a grill!
Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (or two!)
By Jennie Lou Harriman
2 Tbsp softened butter
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup self-rising flour
4 Tbsp chocolate chips
Preheat grill on low-medium setting.
Whisk one egg. (Use leftover egg later to make a scrambled egg snack.)
Combine softened butter, brown sugar, one tablespoon of egg, vanilla, and flour.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Place one or two mounds of dough on a cast iron pan.
Put the pan in the grill, and put the cover on the grill.
Bake until golden brown. The amount of time will depend on your grill setting.
(Enjoy your warm treat even more, knowing you just baked a cookie on a grill! I’m not sure how this would go using another type of grill. Perhaps the pan would need a cover. Or maybe smoked chocolate chip cookies would be delicious…or not–an experiment yet to come!)
Jennie Lou Harriman is an artist, educator and entrepreneur. She enjoys writing nonfiction that helps children have fun while learning. Her passion for interacting with children led to her first six picture books-five of them were created in collaboration with children. The other was part of an intergenerational program that also included residents from a retirement community.
Jennie Lou writes profile articles, recipes, how-to activities, and curriculum. She loves teaching hands-on activities in person, seeing what emerges in the moment, and developing written curriculum so others can join the fun, too!
Jennie Lou was raised in both Vermont and Tennessee, giving her an awareness of different perspectives of life.