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MacGyver in the kitchen

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MacGyver in the kitchen

jsantopietro | Oct 5, 2010 12:10 PM

Hi Chowhounders,

I’ve got a query for you.

About 14 years ago, I cooked my first Thanksgiving. I wasn’t in the U.S. – I was living in an ill-equipped apartment with few kitchen appliances. Many ingredients that are common here, like sweet potatoes and evaporated milk, were hard to find.

After a few calls to my mom, and much running around, I managed to find what I needed. I also learned, for the first time in my life, how to improvise in the kitchen. I turned a wine bottle into a rolling pin, I fused two aluminum foil pans together and wrapped them with more foil to create a pan large enough for my just-killed-that-morning, gigantic bird. I trussed it with dental floss (don’t panic – it was not scented), and to make evaporated milk for the pumpkin pie, I (drum roll) evaporated milk. (Of course my mom had to tell me to do that.) I couldn’t find sweet potatoes, so I used a white potato that tasted a lot like chestnuts (they were delicious). The meal was perfect – improvised, but perfect.

My question for you: have you ever become MacGyver in your kitchen? Are there things you do to improvise when you don’t have the right tools or ingredients? Would love to hear your ideas. I will compile them into a CHOW holiday story.

Here are some ideas:

Rolling pin = cleaned wine bottle
Cheesecloth = cleaned white cotton t-shirt
Trussing string = unscented dental floss or cut a slit in the flap of skin near the leg and tuck the legs under and into the slit
Nutcracker = hammer
Oven breaks down = cut it into pieces and cook it in the toaster oven

Thanks for your help!

Jill Santopietro
Senior Food Editor, CHOW.com

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