If you're like me, you like to measure ingredients. And you also like to cook to impress. Which is why I panicked after promising to bake some elaborate cupcakes at a friend's home in Florida. The surprise? The kitchen lacked tools of all sorts -- there wasn't a measuring cup, spoon, wisk or baking tin to be found. I fumbled my way around using a few tricks and, despite the less-than-precise measurements, the cupcakes turned out great. Follow these tips in case you're faced with the same dilemma:
Measuring Cups: Visualize your favorite measuring cup and try to find a teacup, glass or yogurt container that is roughly the same size. If the item is labeled by size (soup cans, etc), even better! I used a muffin tin (which I purchased with the cupcake ingredients) to measure a level approximate cup of flour.
Measuring Spoons: You're in luck here -- use a regular spoon! Again, it's best to visualize what a tablespoon or teaspoon usually looks like in your own kitchen. Some chefs swear by measuring these amounts by the palm-full -- pour a tablespoon of flour into your palm to get an idea of what it looks like for you.
Zesters and Graters: Chop away! Peel citrus as close to the surface as possible (avoiding the white pith) and mince until it resembles zest. If you're faced with a block of cheese to grate, slice and dice it.
Spatulas and Tongs: It's tough to flip a pancake without a nice spatula, but a cake server or a wide knife should do the trick. Use two forks or spoons together to create makeshift tongs.
When all else fails, try to work with recipes with ratios -- this way you can set your own measurements based on what you have. And, of course, try to steer clear of complicated cooking -- you're on vacation!
What are your improvisational tips when cooking with limited tools?
(Image: Lee Valley)