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I have an embarrassingly small... kitchen


Al_Dente
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Don't get me wrong. I love my dinky little apartment. I'm in a great location (Old Town Alexandria VA), it's easy to keep clean (can vacuum the whole place from one outlet), and it's an attractive modern building (a high rise 3 blocks from the Potomac with a view of the monuments of DC on the roof). BUT, the kitchen sucks. I have a more or less full sized fridge, a decent but small gas stove, garbage disposal in the sink, but counter space the size of a postage stamp.

My kitchen is well stocked as far as equipment goes-- don't ask how I store it. But I hate cooking in it. So much so that my current inventory in the fridge is a bag of sugar, sparkling water, a few veggies and fruits, and condiments.

I love to cook. Any chance I get, I volunteer to cook at a friend's place if they have a decent kitchen.

So, the question is, if you had to prepare dinner while standing in what amounts to a phone booth, what would you make?

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I bet plenty of people in New York City can sympathize.

Is there any chance you could get some kind of sturdy countertop-level cart that you could use as a work area outside the kitchen itself and then stow in corner when it's not in use?

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Sounds like my kitchen! Though my refrigerator is definitely smaller and I only have 3 cooking sufaces on my stove top (which is a bonus since most Japanese homes only have 2!) and my oven is the size of an average microwave in the US. My one counter is exactly 2 feet by 2 feet. I cook for 5 everyday, it just takes a lot of planning and constant washing because there is no place to stack things, alaso my floor gets a lot of use! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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To give you more of an idea, here is the view facing east toward my oven. See the counter space on the left? That's about it. I had to stand with my head backed up against the wall to get this shot with the camera on as wide angle as possible.

i157.jpg

For this shot, I had to stand in my closet. This is essentially my entire kitchen.

i158.jpg

So, as you can imagine, it's a bit of a challenge.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I bet plenty of people in New York City can sympathize.

Is there any chance you could get some kind of sturdy countertop-level cart that you could use  as a work area outside the kitchen itself and then stow in corner when it's not in use?

I'm looking at doing this. Corners are at a premium in my little apt though. I may be able to swing it. It would definitely help. Plus I can have a bit of a wine rack underneath for my 500 bottle collection.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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The kitchen definitely looks like a challenge, but challenges are what make us strong :rolleyes: (or totally bezoonkers). How tall are the ceilings? Wall space, if the ceilings are high enough, can store a multitude of stuff on pegboard or something similar. It won't give you any more counter space, but could keep utensils close at hand without have to worry about digging them out from a small storage area. Just a thought.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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That looks amazingly similar to my daughter's kitchen in the District. It is in an older building but the stove is the same. Cabinet storage is similar. She does have a shelf over the sink. (Oh... Go kiss your single sink. They are so much more useful that those double things that take up too much room and nothing fits in either side.) She has a cart with the microwave in the adjacent dining area against the wall. The lower shelf of the cart is used for condiments and other things that don't require refrigeration. She is starting to cook more and is considering the roll around like vengroff suggested. Also, she is just starting to really cook. She keeps it simple and shops often since she is walking distance from Fresh Fields and wouldn't haul much at one time anyway.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Absolutely true. Hang stuff. From the ceiling, from the walls, under the cupboards.

And immediately go get cutting boards of some kind. When I had my kitchen that was about that size, I had two glass ones. One covered exactly half of the top of my stove; the other covered it all.

You can use that space on your stove top. Most of the time, I had the cutting board that covered half of it, so I could use half of the stove for prep, while pots were simmering on the other half. But when I needed that entire surface for prep, I covered it with the big piece.

Other tips - cutting board that fits over the sink; board that flops down from the wall like an ironing board; preparing dishes one at a time and freezing - like invite folks for a winter supper. Week ahead, do a stew and freeze it; two days before, appetizers; day before, dessert; that morning, prep a salad; right before everyone arrives, make the cornbread.

Wish I could show you pix of my kitchen. Pot rack hanging over sink and kitchen window. Yes, it precludes anyone tall from doing the dishes because if you're over 5'10" you bang your head into the pots and pans, but hey....gotta sacrifice somewhere.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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A hanging pot rack over the stove would be a big help. Enclume makes good sturdy ones. Just be sure to screw the hooks into a joist. When you leave, spackle in the holes and take it with you.

For shelves the metal wire ones will give you space but not close in the the kitchen as much as wooden ones. Or melamine cabinets from Home Depot, etc.

I can't tell what you have as wall cabinets. If there's none over the fridge, you can pile a cabinet on top of the fridge. Just throw an anchor into the wall so it doesn't come tumbling down on you.

Ditto on the cart on wheels.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Al, I think you could fit a EuroCave 4200 in your kitchen for your 500 bottle collection. Slimline version of course. That would free up some room for cooking.

That seems strikingly similar to my kitchen. Luckily, I don't really know how to cook at home.

Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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I'd suggest a little 6-inch deep or so shelf off the counter so that you can keep your coffee pot, grinder and assorted other things there, up off the counter itself. Then I'd get a piece of end-grain wood maple (order from John Boos, perhaps) that fit across the area from the stove to the wall (stash the dishrack somewhere else while you're chopping, stash the piece of wood somewhere else when you're doing the dishes.)

Where do you eat? Do you have a table nearby that could be used as a prep area w/ the addition of a cutting board?

Elfa makes some great carts that can be fitted w/ a butcher block top.

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And make it prettier so that it's fun to be in. Paint. Get some decorative tiles for backsplashes. Get some cute drawer and cabinet pulls. If there's a window, put some glass shelves in it for an herb garden. If there isn't, install a fake one over the sink so that you're looking at something attractive.

Judging from the pix, not only is it small, it's stultifyingly dreary. Liven it up!

:rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Al:

All the previous suggestions are excellent, and as Marie-Louise mentioned, if there's a nearby table...heck, use it!

But be of good cheer! I made Thanksgiving Dinner for crying out loud, in my daughter's kitchen, which bears a striking resemblance to yours, except that you have a godly gas stove, while I was re-teaching myself to cook with her electric range. I found that I had to be much better organized, couldn't be sloppy with the cooking schedule, and needed to clean up as I went along.

Perhaps for those reasons, it was actually the easiest, smoothest full-bore turkey, trimmings, pies Thanksgiving dinner I've ever made. I just needed to make a tiny right brain shift.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Hear! Hear! maggie. When I visit my daughter, I like to cook for her at least one night. (She does breakfast. I have been amazed at her excellent eggs over easy! *proud mama puffing up*) The whole thing takes just what you said... a right brain shift. Actually, I find it a challenge and quite fun. Her big, old, single porcelain sink makes clean-as-you-go pretty easy. I may hand a washed bowl out to her in the dining area to dry it and get it out of the way. Other things get put out of the way out of the kitchen, like the dish rack goes out on the dining table or on a book shelf until washing up time comes around. About my best description is that I have to adjust my whole "rhythm" of prepping, cooking and cleaning.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Wonderful suggestions above. I used to cook in a kitchen that looked almost identical - did several dinners for 10, hosted parties, cooked all sorts of things, just more creatively than I do now. I used the sink area (covered), the stove (evil electric, covered), and the nearby table. In a pinch, when I was doing a lot of prep work and really needed space, I rolled dough or chopped vegetables on boards on the living room floor. All precious counter space was kept clear - I stored everything above or in a nearby closet, so as to preserve the tiny bit of usable space.

Think of it this way: if you can cook well in a space like this, think what a cinch it will be to cook anywhere else! :biggrin:

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Thanks for all the great input. The idea of getting a cutting board the size of my stove top could really help. I do have a good size dining room table in the other room, and I do use it. It's just tough doing prep work at bottom of my rib cage level.

The points about "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" are well taken. It helps to keep that in mind.

I'd liven it up if I could, but I'm renting. I know I could do a few things to it, but I guess I always think I'll be out of here in a few months anyway, though that never seems to happen.

John W-- I'll look into that EuroCave.

Maybe I'll move into a 14' camper like Nick suggests-- eating a steady diet of government cheese, down by the RIVER!

Thanks again for all the suggestions! :smile:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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A bunch of excellent ideas on this thread. Alton Brown is a clever fellow. I ran across a pasta maiking solution in his new book on kitchen equipment and tools. He bolts an Italian pasta machine to an ironing board. I had been looking for an easier way to do this when I ran across his idea.

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Interesting. I was thinking of an ironing board concept when someone mentioned the idea of a cutting board over the stove. The cutting board could be hinged like a stow-away ironing board. When you use the stove, secure the board in the upright position out of the way. My only concerns would be getting food caught in the hinge and spending time to customize a solution, only to move on to a different kitchen.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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you said you had to stand in your closet for the one shot and it seems like that would be off to the left of the refrigerator. Any chance that you can put your fridge IN your closet? then you could put a cart, rather permanently to the left of the sink.

I second the notion of using the verticle space available, and the pot rack is a great idea that worked well for me in a past apartment.

The corner you have is a waste of space. There's nearly nothing that can be functional under the cabinets in that corner. You might want to put something that you wouldn't need regularly back there. Maybe your dish drying rack could go back there. maybe a corner shelf unit that you could store spices and other dry goods.

I don't think putting a cutting board on top of your stove is a good solution. How many times are you cutting something while something else is cooking? Lots. I'm much more in favor of the cutting board over the sink, and get one with a hole so you could rinse veggies through it without having to move the board. I have a long rectangular one with a hole on one side. Forget where I found it...Carson's?

And that 1.5 L wine bottle is taking up WAY too much space. Drink it already!!!

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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In this small kitchen I like Jaymes glass cutting boards better than the over the sink type. Partly because of the advantage of constantly washing pots, pans, bowls, etc. as you go. I don't think a hinged board would be practical for your reasons and how would you wash it down adequately?

Mis en place will make things much more manageable in terms of using your space to best advatage without tripping over yourself if you are doing much more than making an omlette. In other words, you avoid chopping things up while you are cooking. Do the chopping first, clean up and then start the actual cooking.

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One thing that would make this kitchen more cheerful without costing a fortune is to hang a nice big colorful poster on one of the walls. Yeah, it will get spattered w/ grease if you hang it behind the stove, so buy something relatively cheap; yeah, the space could be put to better use by hanging a pot rack or building shelves, but it would be really nice to cook looking at something pretty-a reproduction of one of those old French advertising posters, perhaps?

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MP: Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, "Money

doesn't buy you happiness."

EI: 'E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN'. We used to

live in this tiiiny old house, with greaaaaat big holes in the roof.

GC: House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one

room, all hundred and twenty-six of us, no furniture. Half the

floor was missing; we were all huddled together in one corner for

fear of FALLING!

TG: You were lucky to have a ROOM! *We* used to have to live in a

corridor!

MP: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin' in a corridor! Woulda' been a

palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish

tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting

fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

EI: Well when I say "house" it was only a hole in the ground covered

by a piece of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

GC: We were evicted from *our* hole in the ground; we had to go and

live in a lake!

TG: You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were a hundred and sixty

of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.

MP: Cardboard box?

TG: Aye.

MP: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in

a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o'clock in the

morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down

mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home,

out Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

etc.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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In this small kitchen I like Jaymes glass cutting boards better than the over the sink type. Partly because of the advantage of constantly washing pots, pans, bowls, etc. as you go. I don't think a hinged board would be practical for your reasons and how would you wash it down adequately?

Mis en place will make things much more manageable in terms of using your space to best advatage without tripping over yourself if you are doing much more than making an omlette. In other words, you avoid chopping things up while you are cooking. Do the chopping first, clean up and then start the actual cooking.

I'm definitely an anal retentive, mis en place, wash as you go, type of cook so I do this whenever possible.

I'm now conflicted on the cutting board thing. Sink or stove... I'll have to experiment.

Hopleaf-- don't think I can move that fridge. If I turned around and took a picture of the closet, you'd see why. But that view would only be more embarrissing than showing that bottle of mediocre wine in my kitchen picture. I swear, a friend brought it over.

Wow, I didn't think I'd get so many quick responses. Thanks folks!

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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