Monday, October 19, 2015

I need some space

Oh, 35 pounds of tomatoes, the problem isn't you, it's me. (Well, actually, it's my limited burner surface area.)

Usually I can manage a rather high level of culinary gymnastics during a big curry night or a personal cheffing session by getting creative: starting some things in the stove and then moving them to the oven, say, or using the plug-in rice cooker for grains. But tonight I found myself with a bit of a math problem: 4 burners, and at least 7 pots that need them. (Where is my favorite math teacher when I need him?)

So riddle me this, culinary mathemagicians: How would you account for

  • 1 burner: pot of applesauce that needs to be kept hot for canning
  • 1 burner: tureen of vegan pho broth that still needs simmering for another 3 hours
  • 1 burner: a large pot of boiling water for scalding tomatoes
  • 1 burner: medium pot of simmering water to keep jar lids sterile
  • 2 burners: the giant canning pot
  • 1 burner: the tamale I was going to warm up for dinner...?

My solution: Work in waves. (This is the kind of problem solving that got me into advanced math classes back in 7th grade, thank you very much.)

BURNERS 1 & 2: giant canning pot to sterilize jars, then process filled jars
BURNER 3: applesauce cooking, then tomato scalding
BURNER 4: 1 pot of simmering water to keep jar lids sterile

As for the pho broth: I boiled and then removed it from the stove and covered it to keep warm, then returned it to BURNER 3 when tomatoes were processing. Oh, and dinner: a tamale steamed in a strainer precariously balanced over the canning pot, along with a spinach salad and a limoncello tonic. (What, BURNER 4 was busy warming some tea to make a batch of kombucha!) Next time when I really get cooking I could also break out the portable propane burner, and maybe even the beercan stove -- how did I only think of those now? And maybe I can rig some kind of solar cooker in my sunny front room....

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