One of the challenges of day-to-day living in the rowhome is cooking. My kitchen is an addition — a 180-ish square-foot cabin-like thing with a sloped roof I can reach up and touch. It’s tight and it’s hot and there are no luxuries. No stacking ovens. No dishwasher. No garbage disposal. No fancy-pants faucety thing that fills your pot with water while it sits on the stove. The sink is so close to the stove that having one of those things would be laughable, anyway.
I could post pictures, but here, let’s try this: a 6-second tour courtesy of Vine.
But in spite of it all, I do manage to get quite a bit of cooking done in here:
Having good equipment certainly helps. My willingness to commit time to cooking for one has undoubtedly increased since the Le Creusets came into my life; I use them all the time, as evidenced above. But this post is not one of those lectures about the importance of investing in bazillion-dollar cookware sets. Come on. You know I’m not like that. We work with what he have.
This post is simply about feeding yourself when what you have is a lack of space. And also time. And probably also money. Recently, my strategy has been to set aside one chunk of one weekend day for shopping and cooking. I’ve found that it’s not as difficult as I thought to make it most of the way through the week on this one solid chunk of effort. Put on some tunes and pour yourself a glass of wine and it’s barely like working at all! (Warning: knives are sharp and the handles of an iron skillet get EXTREMELY EFFING HOT, wino.)
So here’s what I do: grab a protein or two, some salad ( I eat mostly spinach), eggs, lots of fruits and veggies, and some snacks (banana chips and dried cranberries for me). With that basic shopping list in mind, today my prep day yielded:
Not bad for maybe 90 minutes of work! This is a random chicken recipe from the internet, and the makings of Smitten Kitchen’s cumin seed roasted cauliflower with yogurt. And also an eggplant that was on super-sale at the store because it needed to be used today. (I regularly shop the expiring stuff — told you I’m cheap.) And eggs, of course!
I try to combine steps wherever possible; I boiled my potatoes and hard-boiled the eggs in the same pot, for example. I cut up the cauliflower and eggplant at the same time, too, and let them roast while the chicken browned. And then everything finished up in the oven around the same time. I love one-pan recipes, as this chicken dish is (save for the potato boiling bit), because it frees up room in my tiny kitchen and helps keep other dishes moving along.
During the week I’ll take some of the veggies and eggs to work (and maybe a drumstick or two) so I can throw them on a salad. At night I’ll have the chicken/potatoes/mushrooms until I get sick of that, and then maybe I’ll switch to pasta or wraps, again throwing on it whatever’s left in the fridge.
Oh right, the fridge. It is — you guessed it — TINY.
Yeah, that’s a normal Britta pitcher on the top shelf using up, like, a sixth of all of my storage space.
When I bought the house, my sellers decided at the last minute to take their fridge with them — fine by me, since their very standard big black fridge projected way into the middle of the room. I drastically downsized from what they were working with. And I’m not going to lie: I kinda hate this fridge. The condiments and the wine are always fighting for space in the door (the wine wins, natch). It’s really difficult to store raw ingredients in here and find anything later. BUT the prep days have been helping! When everything can be stacked in Tupperware, the storage issue is much more manageable.
So there you have it. Life in a bare-bones 8×10′ kitchen: tolerable. Sometimes even tasty.