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What's your strangest kitchen improvization?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
So I was making doughnuts the other day and just as I have my dough rolled out I think to myself, "Wow...I don't even have a doughnut cutter!" So I start rummaging around for something I could use and finally came up with (of all things) a cup, and the lid to a Mrs. dash container. Then it struck me, there must be hundreds of neat little tricks and improvizations that people have come up with.

So what strange things have you guys done in a pinch due to lack of equipment or ingredient?

Some more of mine include:

Making frosting and realizing I only have 5 Tbs. of powdered sugar, so I stuck regular sugar in my coffee grinder for about 5 minutes. (Dont try it unless you have to...I can't explain it but it just doesnt FEEL right.

Using a bbq skewer to thread pork fat into a venison due to my lack of a larding needle. (somebody from the forum gave me that one :) )

Using a cookie cutter to make fun looking pancakes. Yeah I know its been done already but I didn't know that at the time so im counting it haha.
post #2 of 16
I doubt this is new, but I made it up on my own: using ziploc baggies to marinade in, and it works better than a rigid container. I squeeze all the air out.

I've made meatballs under the oven broiler, flattening the balls some, and just flipping them over once.
post #3 of 16
Cooking 200 buns for a BBQ in my pit because the bakery messed up my order. Actually works very well and I have repeated it many times.
post #4 of 16
When I was a kid in India, my mom improvized an oven to make pizza for us. You read that right.

All us kids had lived a couple of years in the USA and loved pizza, but there was no such thing in India. We didn't have an oven. My mom built an oven out of tin cans and used kerosene stoves to heat it. it probably never got over 250-300 degrees and a guest we had commented that it was the longest meal he ever had :roll:

But we did have pizza and it was good. Good partly because I knew how much my mom loved us and did so much for us :^)
post #5 of 16
Almost daily....

When I was catering and roasting bones for veal stock, I would heave the roasting pan full of bones upside down on the flat top, lay the pan on the (turned off) burners and using tongs, drop the now defatted bones back into the roasting pan. This did several things for me, one I could drain off all fat easily by myself without any danger, two the fat wouldn't burn and stink up the oven, three, I didn't get a colander and sink all full of grease-just the flat top-which was greasy to begin with, and three, I could control the roasting a lot better.

I've been known to make a rolling pastry crimper out of a pinion gear from an old Sturmey-Archer 3 spd bicycle hub gear and a pizza wheel handle, make heart-shaped cake forms from a hunk of styrofoam and 2" plastic cake liner strips, as well as find a 1001 uses for cling film....._
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #6 of 16
Not mine, but you ever seen a proofing room made of plastic sheeting?

Sadly, the health department did not approve. :)
post #7 of 16
I use a small folding stainless steel backpacking stove frame with tea lights underneath it for keeping my chocolate in temper when dipping. Bought it at a thrift store for 75 cents.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
post #8 of 16
We once lost our gas line at 10 am before a busy lunch.

I improvised a saute station, grill and fryer with G.I. Pans, Charcoal and a wire racks. We did 230 covers at lunch and not a single soul noticed. We had a great ventilation system.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
WOW, now that is some cool heading thinking, I think I would just crawl in the walk in and hide if I was running a place that lost its gas.:lol:
post #10 of 16
Kudos 24/7. I think you win this one. They'd have been eating salads and cold meats for lunch if it were me it happened to. The weirdest thing I ever used in a kitchen was when I worked for a catering company that also made things for their vending machines. They had a flat top, steamer,two fryers, 6 convection and 2 regular ovens. Hamburgers for vending were grilled on outside gas grills (big fun in Minnesota in January). So, one day the prep sheet said "fry 160 eggs for vending" I'm wondering what the heck I'm supposed to fry eggs on, so I asked one of the kids that worked there. They said to use a lid from one of the square aluminum roasters and to be sure and try to find one that's really flat. Put it on the flat top and fry away. We also used cooling racks to crumble hamburger while it was browning on the flat top in the bottom of a roaster. Use the long edge to chop it up. And I don't think anyone around here knows you can actually buy a thing to shape tortillas for salad bowls. They all use a #5 can with an aluminum handle welded on it. Hide it when the health inspector comes around. Don't know where they get the handles from. Afraid to ask. Good thread. Should be entertaining.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Oddly enough I've heard of the #5 can tortilla bowl thing as well, and it came from a lady that worked at a hospital cafeteria :rolleyes:

Remembered some new ones.

Had to change 3 fryers and somebody had broken the fry hook. I can't even comprehend how you BREAK a quarter inch thick steel instrument but it happened. So I bent the handle of an old fryer skimmer intro a big C looking thing and it worked better than the real thing due to its thickness, go figure.

Cooler went out the day before a busy friday so I took 3 hotel pans, packed them with crushed ice and set up a makeshift cold bar. That one came from working in a restaurant that was so Ill equipped we had 3 of these every night that had to be set up and everything put on carts, covered and rolled into the walk in. Things like this led to the kitchen taking a good 2 hours of uninterrupted cleaning to close down at the end of the night, often done by one cook. (I quit that place, haha)

Same place that didn't have enough cold bars didnt have a saute station so we put pans (only had 6) on the char broiler when we needed to make scampi or alfredos. Felt really bad for the dishwasher, those pans were BEYOND crusty.

Not mine but worked well: When grilling breaded walleye we would take the metal part from a sizzler platter and put it on top the fish then put a grill press on top of it to cook it quickly without getting it filthy. We had no oven on the line so it had to be cooked allll the way through on the flat top which took anywhere from 10-15 minutes leading to much waitress questioning. "Is my walleye done?" *Window is completely empty, walleye is clearly still on the grill.*
post #12 of 16
Not mine, but a customer of mine was making corndogs for a church social but didn't have anything to hold the dogs in the fryer. He took a fry basket press with a large mesh, poked the sticks through the mesh and put a metal clamp on the stick to hold it in place. He'd get about 15 dogs on one press, dip them into the batter, then the fryer. He even rigged up a frame so the fry basket bress would only go down so far.
post #13 of 16
One friday night, the roof backed up pretty bad (2 feet) with water during a brutal storm (plastic shopping bag blocked the drain) and water started coming down the hoods over the fryer station.

I gave the fry cook an umbrella.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Cat Man: Oh no! I hope water didnt get in the fryers. There is nothing more ominous sounding than the death pops coming from a fryer with water in it. I once heard of a guy that stuck a snowball in one. First there was running away, then lots of cleaning.
post #15 of 16
Yes it was surreal.
Not too much water got in them.
The craziest thing was I had to go up on the roof during this brutal storm, lighting and all, knee deep in water to unplug the drain.
I was successful and we all slept peacefully that night.
...and we all lived happily ever after
post #16 of 16
Been there with the water in a fryer. I worked at a McDonalds many years ago when they actually cooked the food instead of using microwaves. One of the idiot kids on the cash registers tossed ice in the fryer. After the explosion he spent the rest of the day cleaning up the mess then was fired.
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