Poached, Grilled, or (Coffee Maker) Brewed?

When I heard that people were cooking food in coffee makers my first thought was: Why?

Was this another new cooking trend? An internet challenge accepted by the masses? I had to find out.

According to this NPR article, coffee pot cookery was merely a matter of need necessitating invention; Jody Anderson made up a bunch of recipes for her nephew who was stationed in Afghanistan. He was sick of the mess hall food, but didn’t have a kitchen in which to cook. However, he was allowed have a drip coffee maker. So, his Aunt tapped into her inner MacGyver and came up with a bunch of recipes that could all be cooked up in Mr. Coffee.

This got me thinking of other situations where one would have access to electricity, but not a stove. Studio apartments and dorms were the first thing to come to mind. My freshman dorm had one shared kitchen per floor, which meant total chaos on cold days when no one wanted to walk to the dining hall. Could I have fired up the old coffee maker? Let’s just say that if it was too cold to go somewhere on campus to get food that’s already waiting for me, I wasn’t going to go the extra miles known as grocery shopping and food prep. Besides, I’m more of a set it and forget it type of gal; microwaves and crock pots are more my speed.

So why would anyone with a fully functioning kitchen (or at least a hot plate) do this? Could there be nutritional benefits? The coffee maker offers some variety: it can steam, poach and grill foods. Salmon seems like the natural choice for poaching and while it’s my least favorite fish, it’s healthy. Coffee makers generally come in one size and the basket they’re suggesting you cook the broccoli in isn’t exactly spacious, so it’s sort of like forced portion control (like when they tell you to only eat a handful of almonds – “have a filter full of cauliflower”). It’s also an energy efficient option, so there’s that. I do think that most people trying this out would be doing it for the novelty (no word on what this does to the appliance or the taste of your morning brew).

NPR, which is apparently the source for unusual preparation methods, posted another piece this past August about poaching in a different appliance — the dishwasher. This was something I had actually heard of before. Years ago, before Three Olives and Pinnacle got in the game, friends of mine made flavored vodka by putting Jolly Ranchers into bottles of vodka and put them through a cycle in the dishwasher. The heat and the agitation simultaneously melts and mixes the candy and voila! Watermelon-flavored vodka.

And of course, there’s always your dashboard.

What items have you re-purposed to cook in a pinch?

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