Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Hotel Kitchen Kit, v1.0

For most trips, I don't bother to bring any special cooking tools. We do, however, make it a priority to visit a supermarket as one of our first destinations in a new location. I walk in with this document at the ready, which reminds me of some basic essentials to pick up.

Every once in a while, though, I'll find myself needing to do a larger amount of hotel cooking. And when that happens, you won't be shocked to learn, I've got a kit ready to go. Here's what's inside of it.

First, here's the setup all packed up:

And here it is unpacked:

What's in the kit:

  • Fozzil's Solo Pack - Fozzil's consists of 3 sheets of heavy duty plastic that contain strategically located snaps and folds. When you follow the instructions, you can quickly assemble a bowl, cup, and plate. It does include a spoon, though I've never used it, so I'm not sure how much mileage you'll get from it. I've used the Fozzils in both a camping and hotel context, and does fine in both scenarios. I really like how functional each item is, with each piece being a reasonable size. I've never had the snaps fail. When unsnapped and flattened, they can be used as a cutting board or prep area. Even the container they come in has been useful: as you can see, the rest of the "kitchen" packs inside of it, and it too can serve as a cutting board. While Fozzil's may not be the smallest packing option available, it is flat, durable, lightweight and easy to clean. Definitely hard to beat.
  • Light My Fire Spork - What can I say? It's a mighty fine eating implement, lightweight, easy to clean and won't break the bank when you lose one.
  • Japanese Paring Knife - I have no special attachment to this knife, as I recently added to the kit. In the past I had a folding ceramic knife, which did well until I cracked the plastic handle. The Japanese Paring knife seems like it will do well: it's compact enough to fit in the kit, yet large enough to have lots of uses. It comes with its own scabbard, which is pretty essential. It is also dirt cheap and gets solid Amazon reviews.
  • Small bag of condiments - Yes, you can buy these online, but it's more fun to randomly collect them. Start now and just keep an eye out for extra packets you can "borrow" next time you're at a fast food spot. The salt and pepper is especially useful.
  • Bottle of olive oil - this is an empty 5 Hour Energy bottle and does work well. It's never leaked on me and it's a good size. The big catch is that the 5 Hour Energy drink is pretty pungent stuff, and it leaves an odor in the bottle. I wouldn't want to use the bottle to carry fine olive oil, but as a supply of basic cooking olive oil, it works well.
  • A sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil - Aluminum foil is lightweight and packs well in this flat setup, so why not bring some along? It's useful for providing a clean prep area, wrapping up left-overs and lots of other uses. I've used the foil as an improvised lid for the Fozzil containers, trapping the heat inside. The foil combined with a hotel towel wrapped around the container allows food to continue to cook (mmmmm, melty cheese) after it's out of the microwave.
  • Ziplock Zip 'n Steam bags - While the Fozzil containers are great for food prep and using as dishes, they really aren't designed for cooking. They can be heated up to 110°C, but aren't truly microwave safe. This means that if I've got a microwave in the hotel room, I don't really have a container for cooking in it. Enter the Ziplock Steamer Bags. These bags are designed to be microwaved, and serve as a super compact cooking vessel. They get rave reviews on Amazon, and can apparently be used to make whole meals (see: here and here). I've had success cooking eggs in them, which is a common and easy dish to make. Considering how inexpensive they are, how they fold flat and are multi-use, you really can't go wrong with them.

So there you have it, a lightweight, multipurpose kit for turning a hotel room into a functional kitchen. As for what to cook, Google is your friend there. As is Buzzfeed. Heck, many raw food recipes should work, as they don't require cooking. But ultimately, I'm still figuring this part out. For now, my "meals" tend to be either basic and functional, or creative and disastrous. But either way, I end up fed.

Have any hotel cooking suggestions? Do share in the comments!

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