Good Question: Best Hot Plate for Tiny Kitchen?

Here's great challenge question from reader Jen. She writes:

I recently moved to San Francisco, where I am renting a painfully cheap apartment. (I won't discuss exactly how much it is, but let's just say it's a studio apartment in a very nice building for less than four figures, in the Mission.) Why is it so cheap? Well, for starters, it's about 150 square feet. And it doesn't have a kitchen.

I'm a big cook, so the fact that I moved somewhere with no kitchen is absolutely ridiculous. It was also somewhere I can afford, and I only planned to stay here a short time, so I sucked it up and enjoyed the cheap rent. The longer I'm in this place, though, the more I really like it.

To say it has "no kitchen" might not be entirely true - you can see a photo above. I've since moved the table away from there, put the TV in the closet and set the microwave on top of the refrigerator.

There is most definitely not a stove, however, and the storage space you see there is all that exists in the apartment.

Anyone have a great tip of something I can do to expand my cooking options? A little something beyond sandwiches, salads and microwave popcorn? Are there good, relatively inexpensive hot plates out there that actually get hot enough to boil a pan of water for pasta? I'm on a short-term lease, so I'm looking for non-permanent options.

Jen, first of all, congratulations on your great apartment! This is indeed a small kitchen, but this is by no means a deal breaker. We think of writer Laurie Colwin and all the meals she cooked up in her tiny kitchen. (She had to wash the dishes in the bathtub). You can do a lot with a hot plate, but hot plates have come a long way.

We would recommend a small induction cooktop. Induction cooktops cook by magnets; they heat the pot the food is in, instead of creating a hot surface. There are several stand-alone, relatively inexpensive models on the market now. They are slim, easy to store away, and much safer for small spaces since they don't create flame or hot surfaces.

Does anyone use an induction stand alone cooktop? Would you like to recommend it to Jen? Any other tips for cooking in such a little (yet perfect) space?

One more tip: Invest in a good toaster oven. You can make entire meals in some of the more powerful toaster ovens available these days. See our posts on this here:

Good Question: What Can I Bake Without An Oven?
Good Question: Cooking Without Appliances
Good Question: What's The Best Toaster Oven?

Related: Good Question: What Is Induction Cooking?

(Image: Flickr member Jen Rizzo)

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