How do you feel about your kitchen? ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Friday, December 19, 2008

How do you feel about your kitchen?

I love to cook but am often frustrated by the kitchen in my apartment. I have a long litany of complaints (you can stop reading whenever you get sick of my complaining):

Nowhere near enough space. My husband and I run into each other constantly and have to coordinate our usage of the sink and stove with the opening of drawers and use of countertops like a careful ballet (though ballet implies something graceful and lovely which our little dance is not.)

Not enough light. The little room does have one window but it is located underneath the deck of our upstairs neighbor so very little light makes it in. My husband added some lights on top of the cabinets which help a little bit but it's not ideal, particularly when trying to take pictures of food for this here blog.

No connection to the rest of the house. Our kitchen is a little box off of a hallway which means that when we have guests they either have to stand (or sit on a tiny stepstool) in the hallway to chat with us or go hang out in the living or dining room and talk amongst themselves while we finish cooking. We once had an even tinier kitchen (the kind with a half-sized stove) which was open to the living room with a counter top between them -- that one feature pretty much made up for all its other shortcomings, though.

Tiled countertop. This might not sound bad but the tiles are old ones with very uneven surfaces which means that everything - cutting boards, plates, bowls, pans-- wobbles unmercifully and makes a lot of noise. At one point when the counters were new, the large strips of grout between them were probably smooth and full but now they are worn down, pitted and coated in years of grime (I have tried to clean them out.)

Ants. In the wintertime, the kitchen routinely gets invaded by armies of ants (luckily, the little sugar ants, not the big ones...) We think that they are driven in by either the cold or the rain but there is something very unpleasant about trying to cook on a surface covered by a river of little creatures. And it also feels bad to have to kill so many of them (who wants to begin their morning by wiping out hundreds of tiny lives, after all?)

But there are a few good points, too. For a small space, our kitchen has a surprising amount of storage so all our pots and pans and whatnot fit. It also has a gas stove (thank God!) and a full Photo of Mark Bittman cooking in his NYC kitchen by Kelly Doesized refrigerator that does NOT require defrosting. In retrospect, we have had much worse kitchens so perhaps I really should not complain.

I thought this recent blog post by Mark Bittman, the New York Times food blogger/critic and cookbook writer about his own tiny kitchen (see photo of him cooking braised turkey at right) was great. Although it has in NO way dampened my desire for a bigger and better kitchen, it was sort of nice to know that other people who take food seriously can and do cook in less than ideal circumstances and with good results.

Although I agree with Bittman that the size of a kitchen should not affect the quality of food you're able to prepare (though perhaps the volume...), I do think that a kitchen can affect the way you feel while cooking. My dad is a designer-builder and the houses he built for us always had big open kitchens with a good connection to the rest of the house. I find that it just is more enjoyable to cook in a well-designed space with room for two people to walk around.

So how do YOU feel about your kitchen? (Please respond via comments!)


Melissa said...

I hate my kitchen...however, due to the fact I live in a little tiny A-frame cottage studio, I suppose it is alright. Nope, never mind, it sucks. I only have a two burner stove, and no oven. My landlord was nice enough to supply a large microwave/convection over (which I have on top of the fridge), but its still not the same. My only nice thing is that I have a full size fridge, which doubles as a shelf for my glasses because I don't have enough cabinet space. :) Oh and did I mention that because its an A-frame my boyfriend has to duck in order to do dishes?

But my landlord is cool and lets me keep a garden and a cat.

Stephanie said...

Well...not at all my dream kitchen, but it does hold more than we need and I think if I had my dream kitchen I'd expand to fill that space as well. So, in retrospect, my kitchen is just fine! (though the crappy cheap-o fake wood cabinets need to go for sure!0

Erin said...

I love my kitchen. I got married about 2 1/2 yrs ago & my husband had a cute, but VERY small house. We spent the 1st yr & half of our marriage adding onto his house. It was a LOT of hard work, we did much of it on our own! But I got a brand new Kitchen out of the deal. We got to design it ourselves, it's just lovely! We have beautiful oak cabinetry with beadboard fronts that we stained black & distressed. ll the appliances are Stainless, my knobs & handles are stainless with scrolly black designs, and piece de resistance: avery large & deep apron front hand hammered copper sink!
I'll post some snaps on my blog if anyone wants to check it out...
I did not post just to brag, but mostly because you asked...and because it truly is my favorite room in my new/old house. There's a bar for folks to sit at & visit with me while I work & in the corner, I have a little desk with my laptop, so I can email, blog & surf in between stages of cooking. I love it & am truly grateful for my lovely kitchen...

AarCee EmJay said...

Love my kitchen, though I wish like you mentioned, it was more connected to the whole house instead of being in that corner.
Love your blog! :)