Cooking with Almost Nothing

Photo by Emily Stephenson

I’m cooking in a vacation rental this week, and I only brought my knife with me, which means the tools in “my” kitchen reflect the generosity of the owner and the cooking inclinations of previous tenants. I’ve found one pot, some bowls, a couple skillets, a wooden spoon, a can opener, and a colander. But I can still do almost all the summer cooking I want.

I left the tools to chance, but I knew there would be no ingredients in the house. I packed the pantry items that seemed summer-appropriate, and I stopped on the way to pick up everything I thought I might need. In truth, I think I could have gotten away with salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar, but I brought a bit more.

Summer is the best time for pared-down cooking. You don’t want to apply much heat to anything because it’s so ripe and full of flavor. I’d happily eat tomato sandwiches and salads and grilled vegetables (if I had a grill) through September.

Inspired by a really great noodle salad we tested a few weeks ago, fish sauce was one of the things I brought, as well as buying tofu and rice noodles. A cold noodle salad is perfect summer fare.

I knew it was going to be a time investment, but I didn’t have anything else better to do, so I started by julienning lots cucumber and carrots (knife). I didn’t do it perfectly as you can see, but, hey, I’m on vacation. I boiled water (one pot) to steep the rice noodles, then drained them (colander). I cubed tofu, chopped cilantro, and minced onion (knife). I whisked together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and salt until it tasted good (fork), then I tossed everything together.

It was a great summer dinner that required just four basic tools, and felt like much more than the sum of its parts.

– Emily Stephenson

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Produce


  1. A Presto said...

    Where is the link to the recipe? Thanks

  2. Laura Boehl said...

    A good cook does not need a huge kitchen or every tool known to man to prepare a delicious dish. Less is more!

  3. A Presto said...

    Nasty response. I DID read the article. I’ve been cooking for 30 years. A COOKING article should include a RECIPE. Okay, will not visit this site again.

  4. Tomek said...

    This look so good! I will try it today. Thank u.

    • Jayden said...

      Interessante a forma como crias esta relação transversal entre o meu frango bairradino (podia ter-lhe chamado assim, porque esta preparação é normal por lá) e o cabrito de Oleiros. Na verdade, é destas &qoÃe;fusuµts" que se recriam receitas que acabam por enriquecer a nossa cozinha popular. O Calum, não conheço, mas a opção pelo Alvarinho PD by Anselmo Mendes parece assertiva 🙂

  5. Luella said...

    Bonjour ma fille tu t’amuses j’en suis certaine ton père me demande de tes nouvelles à tous les jours. Aujourd’hui nous avons discuté avec Alez et y paraît que la pelle te fait de beaux muscles donc tu seras prêtes pour cet hiver, nous t’aimons et sommes de tout coeur avec toi,Nicole et JeXXXGuyXX-XXXaXXXnXXXXXXXXX

  6. Damian said...

    haha i like your idea

  7. Anna Wright said...

    Hey it is nice to know that you used few tools to make this tasty dish. Nice work. This looks like a really yummy salad.

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