Tested for resourcefulness?…Recipe for easy to make coconut shrimp plus gluten free version…

Yesterday morning our eight year old Viking range quit working. It blew the circuit breaker when I turned on the downdraft. Most likely, it’s an electrical issue.  

With an appliance repair plan in place with Centerpoint Energy, I couldn’t call quickly enough.  With the outrageous heat these past few weeks, they were swamped with air conditioning repairs.  The next available time slot was Monday, July 16.  Oh no!  

“What do you mean I won’t have a *&*$%*#@ stove!  How will I cook?  Eight more days?

Friday evening, we heard from two separate couples, dear old friends, we hadn’t seen in a while. Ironically, both of these couples had stumbled across our blog and were inspired to touch base. 

When the first couple called, we invited them for dinner last night, subsequently turning down the second couple who had invited us for dinner only minutes after we invited the first couple.  We love visiting with friends.  We’ve been busy. They’ve been busy.  Life happens.

Smiling, in anticipation of a fun evening, I wandered off to the kitchen to make Tom and I our usual low carb, sugar free, gluten free, grain free and starch free breakfast: eggs, sausage and coconut flour pancakes with Walden Farms sugar free syrup.  

I turned on the Viking stove top with the 24 inch griddle on which I usually make this entire breakfast and on which I would be cooking the dinner for old friends later in the evening.  I turned on the griddle I got power, then a switch short circuited and there was no power.  

Calling out to Tom while he was enjoying time in his comfy chair, reading the Saturday paper, he jumped up to help (Oh, good grief! How stereotypical we are)!  He never uses the stove, knows nothing about the stove, but I always call out to him when something doesn’t work. He came running to no avail.  “Call and get an appointment.” he says and,  “we’ll need to cancel dinner.”

Cancel dinner?  Huh?  Call our dear old friends and “un-invite them?”  No way! I told Tom I’d cook the breakfast in the oven. If it turns out, I will figure out how I will make a lovely dinner without a stove.  

You may think, why not use the Weber grill?  Simple answer. We live on a peninsula. When the winds blows our Weber grill often ends up in the lake, the big black lid bobbing along the shoreline. It always seems to float back home.As a result of “its” life experiences, I have little interest in cooking with its banged up body and lid.  We replaced it several times over the years and finally gave up especially now that “THEY” say grilling may not be so healthful.

As for breakfast, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, baked the sausage and the coconut flour pancakes (used the muffin top pan for perfectly round pancakes) for about 15 minutes, baking the eggs during the last five minutes using the dull side of the Reynold’s nonstick foil (coupon here). Much to our surprise breakfast was perfect! Timing was everything!

Now what’s will we make for dinner for company?  After two days in the kitchen this holiday making food for July 4th, I had little interest in coming up with a complex menu and spending hours preparing a meal. Now that I had no stove, I went rummaging through the freezer to come up with ideas.

Here’s what we decided on preparing without a stove, considering all the ingredients we had on hand:

  • Cauliflower, green onions, bacon and almond salad with homemade sweet and sour ranch dressing (I cooked the bacon in microwave)
  • Marinated pork tenderloins (oven prepared)
  • Grass fed burger patties (oven prepared)
  • Gluten Free Coconut Shrimp with spicy blackberry yogurt dip (deep fryer)

Here’s a photo of the shrimp and the recipe:

Jess’s Coconut Shrimp
Jess’s Coconut Shrimp with Gluten Free Option24 large fresh or frozen shrimp (if frozen, thaw quickly in a bowl of tepid water)
1 cup regular white flour (or for gluten-free diets: 1/2 cup rice flour + 1/2 cup cornstarch)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
2 eggs
2/3 cup ice water, or cold water
1 cup dry shredded unsweetened coconut (baking-type)

2 cups coconut oil or other high-temperature oil for deep-frying

1. Remove shells from shrimp, but leave tails on for easier cooking and eating. Set aside.

2. Make the batter by first mixing the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.

3. Crack the egg into the flour mixture, then add the water, stirring to break the yolk and form a fairly smooth batter (don’t worry if there are a few small lumps).

4. Spread coconut over a plate or other dry surface, and set beside the bowl of batter.

5. Holding the shrimp by the tail, dip into the batter, then into the coconut. Place on a dry plate or a clean space of your counter near the stove. If you have a helper, you can batter and fry the shrimp in one step, which is much quicker.

6. Pour oil into a frying pan, ensuring it’s at least 1 inch deep. Set over medium-high to high heat. When you see lines of heat snaking across the bottom of the pan, test the temperature by dropping a tiny bit of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and cooks, the oil is ready.

7. Drop as many battered shrimp into the frying pan as possible at one time. Reduce heat to medium. Tip: You’ll want to cook the shrimp quickly, in just 1 or two batches (before any of the loosened shredded coconut has time to burn in the oil).

8. Cook about 20 seconds per side then turn with tongs. Remove from the oil when the shrimp turn a light to medium golden brown. Drain on a clean piece of parchment paper (I find parchment paper works the best, as it doesn’t stick to or tear the batter).

9. Serve hot straight from the pan, or accompany a sugar free sweet and sour dipping sauce.

The deep fryer was an issue. Since we don’t normally deep fry, we only had enough coconut oil on hand to fill it to about 1″ deep. The bottom of the fry baskets were raised 1″ from the bottom resulting in the baskets never touching the oil. The only solution I could see was to cook the shrimp around the edges of the heating element which could result in sticking and uneven cooking. Much to my amazement, they didn’t stick and cooked to a golden brown.

Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the dinner (so they said) and we were thrilled with our resourcefulness; cooking with no stove.

Lesson learned: Wherever we may travel, however basic the appliances or cooking utensils, we will find a way to prevent ourselves from starving and perhaps enjoy some innovation in the process.We are having more company for dinner tonight, our dear friend Sue; salmon, leftover coconut shrimp, steak, salad and veggies. Easy peasy.

After another “oven baked” breakfast this morning, I started gathering items for Tom’s lunch tomorrow. By rote, I poured water in a pan, gently placed six eggs in the pan and turned on the stove. Poof! It started! Go figure.