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notes from a small kitchen
by Yee-Fan Sun |
1 2 3

Yes, I know: I was a big ol' spoiled brat. My last digs boasted a huge kitchen that took up a disproportionately large volume of an otherwise smallish space. The bedroom was barely big enough to fit in a double bed and a dresser and the office had about a foot-and-a-half of walking room, but the kitchen was the sort of kitchen you dream about having someday, far off in the future, when you have a lot more money. But me, I had the fab kitchen already, sad excuse for an annual income and all. This was one of the perks of being a budget-challenged twenty-something in a city other than New York or San Francisco, LA or Chicago, heck, even my hometown of Boston: in Tucson, you could get a whole lot of house for a small amount of dough.

So when the boy and I moved on out to Edinburgh, I knew we'd be looking at a bit of a downsizing in the kitchen department. Edinburgh's a real city, the British pound whomps the U.S. dollar, and besides, this is Europe, where space is so tight that they sell cars that are shorter than a regular American car is wide.

Still, in my mind, I think I just imagined I'd have fewer cabinets and a little less countertop space. What I didn't realize was that in my tiny kitchen, everything would be smaller -- from the burners on my stovetop, to the oven, to the sink, to the fridge. The first few meals I cooked, I'd get frazzled by the mountain of dirty dishes that inevitably overtook the bit of counter where I needed to get my next set of ingredients chopped; I'd run out of burners before I'd even gotten to cooking the main dish.

Trying to turn out good meals from a small kitchen, I'm learning, brings on all sorts of challenges that the more amply kitchen-endowed just don't have to deal with. Fortunately, with a few minor adjustments in cooking attitude, it is possible to live out your big culinary dreams in even the teeniest of kitchen spaces. A few words of advice from a fellow small-kitchen cook…

1 Shop more frequently, buying essentially just enough for a couple of days worth of eating. Yes, it might seem almost un-American at first not to do the big weekly or bi-weekly shopping expedition, where you roam up and down every aisle of the supermarket until your shopping cart is piled high with sale items. But you'll soon get used to going to the supermarket more often and spending less time there each trip. And you'll definitely appreciate it when you notice that your cupboards and fridge are no longer overflowing into your precious countertop space with stuff that -- let's be honest now -- you didn't really need in the first place.

2 Devote your kitchen space to cooking duties only. Move the junk drawer out of the kitchen drawer, find a home other than your kitchen countertop for all those bills that need to be dealt with, pile your newspapers somewhere other than the eat-in breakfast table.

amble right along, pardner


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