Earlier this month, I made my annual batches of spicy pecans to give as holiday gifts. It was the first time I’d ever roasted them at my current home in New Orleans, and I promptly burned the inaugural effort.
The issue wasn’t my carelessness. For years, I’d been using an electric induction oven; I knew precisely where to set the temperature, when to stir the seasoned pecans, and the exact time to snatch them out. But this year, I was cooking with gas, and it was a different proposition. This oven heats up faster and stays hot, unlike my previous oven, in which the temperature cycles up and down, depending on whether the fan is running.
A number of people might be in a similar position this holiday season, cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen while vacationing at an Airbnb or staying at a long-term winter rental. Many such homes have inscrutable ovens, minimal appliances, and knives that haven’t been sharpened for decades.
Here’s what to know before committing to cooking a homemade meal anywhere but your own home.