Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Deciding to be Happy: The Small Kitchen

If you know me, and you do, you know I often lament the size of our tiny house (I feel I can call it tiny, as those who advocate living in the "small" house are often talking about 2,000 square feet, and our house is much smaller). Foremost among my complaints is the size of the kitchen.
Leave it to The Minimalist to shame me into satisfaction. This morning I read "So Your Kitchen Is Tiny, So What?" which is a great column about how he makes all his amazing meals in a tiny, NYC-apartment-sized kitchen (click on the link to the picture and be amazed).
I got to that column via today's column, "Fresh Start for the New Year? Let's Start in the Kitchen." It's a great list of must-haves for your pantry. (Pantry? Do I have a pantry? No.) I was pleased that many things on his list were already in my possession. Also, that I understood a lot of his tossed off recipes ("just steam this and throw in that" etc.). I have to admit that I do have the spray oil, (and packaged broth!) which I will use until gone and not replace (I may be a health freak, but I don't like to waste). But I also have real maple syrup, tomato paste in a tube, quinoa, and three kinds of rice.
I set out to find Mark Bittman because he wrote a book that extends Michael Pollan's argument (from In Defense of Food) called Food Matters, which includes recipes. I read about it on Salon. I've also wanted How To Cook Everything for awhile.
So, my first lesson in happiness this year comes from The Minimalist. It's not the size of the kitchen, it's the imagination of the chef.


Lisa B. said...

Nice post! Some of my happiest cooking experiences have come from cooking in a teeny tiny kitchen. Admittedly, I was on vacation at the time, but still. For me the problem with tiny is that I am messy and acquisitive, and this certainly extends both to kitchen implements as well as the food itself. I applaud your resolve!

Vis a vis cookbooks: My friend turned me on to the website 101 cookbooks, the premise of which is that the blogger realized she had so many cookbooks, it was actually time to start cooking some recipes. She's a veg, and the food is quite amazing. Not saying you *don't* need the Bittman book--I am a fan of the big compendium type cookbook, as they are infinitely useful, and my favorite of this type is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

lis said...

If you are going to get one of Bittman's tomes, I highly recommend How To Cook Everything in The World. It's as accessible and easy and really interesting food. His Veg book is also good.

Renaissance Girl said...

i love this post. my fave cookbooks: the alford-duguid series. they are obviously NOT vegetarian, but i can riff on their ideas endlessly, and it requires some fun re-imaginings.

ErinAlice said...

I like it. I saw a picture of your kitchen just a few days ago(where???) and realized how small it is but I agree, you can still be creative in a small space. I have spray it bad?? But I buy organic broth cause I don't have time to make my own even though I am sure it tastes better. I am a fan of the Barefoot Contessa, but I am not her!! Happy cooking or whatever.

Aligates said...

You MUST read "My life in France!" The kitchens of Julia Child will cause you to gird your loins and keep cooking. She has 74 pieces of cooking equipment at one point, and moves it: More than one time, to more than one country, once on an ocean-liner. And I also admit to owning spray oil, partly BECAUSE it takes a few years for me to get through a whole can.

Nik said...

It's like Top Chef and formal poetry: the challenges just make you stronger.