Tiny Kitchen

How do you cook in an itsy bitsy kitchen space??  What’s in mine?

Well good question.  We went from a gigantic kitchen – easily 200 square feet, to a kitchen that is a narrow alley.  I love my small kitchen.  Nothing is too far away.  I don’t lose anything….ever.   It was designed by someone who actually must have been familiar with cooking, and storing things, and providing plenty of counter space despite the small footprint.  That helps.   It’s still small.  Somehow someone fit a full size fridge, full size stove, a dishwasher, two bay sink, and a decent amount of counter space in.  We have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for 14 – a 22 pound bird, a duck, pork tenderloin and enough side dishes to sink a ship, in a kitchen this size (okay so I commandeered my neighbors oven – but you get the idea.)  Almost anything is doable…

When downsizing I made sure everything I moved had more than one use, or I loved it too much to get rid of it.  As much as I thought this would be a horrific experience – I really dig it.  Number one tip here – Purge, Purge, Purge.

We have a Kitchenaid 600 Pro mixer.  Yes it takes up a giant slab of counter-space.  I would also likely stick a knife in anyone who attempted to remove it from my counter (its 65 pound bulk not withstanding).  I like to look at it.  I like to use it.  I love the crank handle on the side.  It sounds, looks, and feels like an industrial machine.  It will smoosh your fingers flat if you get in its way.  It will also bend a metal mixing cup into a taco if you try to add things while it’s running and aren’t careful.  It’s shape hasn’t changed since 1937 – thank you Egmont Ahrens.

We also have an old-fashioned Waring Pro blender.  It’s chrome.  It smells like ozone if you let it run for more than a few seconds.  It could most likely liquefy granite if given enough time.  Again it takes up more counter space than is probably wise.  But I like milkshakes, and it makes any sauce instantly smooth.  If you’ve not room for such a thing or no desire to spend the money – a cheap stick immersion blender makes a lot of sense.  If I’m being honest I have broken quite a few immersion blenders over the years.  All different brands.  They work delightfully for a while, then they begin to discreetly come unglued until one day you have many assorted pieces dropping into your salsa.  I have yet to find one that can stand up to repeated and prolonged beatings.  If anyone’s got a suggestion….

Another item I’d likely have a conniption over losing would be my Microplaner.  Nothing else can handle Reggiano Parmesan, nutmeg, giant pink Himalayan sea salt crystals, lemon rind….basically you name it.  I’ve had mine for half a decade and it’s still sharp enough that the thought of running a knuckle across it scares the hell out of me.

We’ve an espresso machine.  It looks lovely.  It steams a nasty pitcher of milk.  And it does get used.  It’s large…again I like to look at it and it was one of those deals that could not be passed up when I bought it.  We don’t have a coffee maker.

We have fewer pots and pans than you might imagine.  We had a giant pile of different types before we moved.  I donated all the garbage ones and duplicates.  Again it’s just pans I really like, are really useful, or serves a specific purpose (We have a tall asparagus steamer that I don’t think can be used for anything else – it’s brilliant though.)  A pot rack would be a great item – I’ve yet to install one despite repeatedly mentioning that it’s the next thing I’m going to buy for over a year.  I do have some pots and pans hanging on the wall – it’s a good place for them.  Out of the way but within easy reach.

Under the cabinets I have an ultra cheap rice maker – like $15 ultra cheap.  It makes better rice than I could ever make and does so every time I use it – whether it’s sushi rice, long grain, short grain  -  the only thing it won’t do is risotto – for obvious reasons.  It is worth it’s weight in gold.  Also hiding under there are a waffle iron, a small hand crank pasta machine (takes up very little space and it does get used), a cheap hand mixer that I believe is 20 years old and despite advertising 6 or 7 speeds – really runs at its own pace regardless of the setting at this point, and one enamel dutch oven. Oh – and a digital scale.  Not terribly expensive and for baking – which is more like chemistry some times – it makes life much simpler.  Weighing things takes out a lot of guesswork and ensures repeatability in a recipe.  All good things.  Another fun item is a Foley Food Mill.  It makes great applesauce in no time.  It takes a lot of hand and arm twirling.  As old-fashioned as it gets.  But it’s a lot of fun.

I used to keep a little thing called a HotShot on the counter.  It boiled enough water for a cup of tea in about 90 seconds.  I drink a lot of tea – no I mean A LOT of tea.  I went through one of these every 6 months.  They start to leak and make strange noises after a few months and I got tired of repeatedly buying them.  They look cheap, feel cheap, and are remarkably cheap.  You get what you pay for I suppose.  I use a small pan on the oven now and it’s almost as quick.  I wish someone would make one that didn’t suck.

We have one cabinet for bake-ware.  Some Pyrex, some stoneware, some metal, and some silicone.  Silicone is great – it’s floppy so it can be stored easily and creatively, it is generally easy to clean, and it makes nice things.  It’s not particularly cheap and spray on Pam kind of things do not like to come off once baked on….so use what you have.

These are our measuring cups – I love them.  I don’t know where I got them at this point.  But they make me smile every time I use them.  They are old, they nest, and they make me happy.  They are not great for some things – try dipping that in a bag of flour….but I weigh most of my dry ingredients so I can just scoop into a bowl with whatever.

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