Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finding Value In A Small Space

I’m a city gal (umm, Adventures in SF, come on people!) And I live in a small apartment. It’s technically a studio, but I’m really lucky that to there is a separate kitchen. My kitchen is a decent size, especially given the apartment size. But big? Definitely not! A ton of storage space or counter space? No, by all means, no. Dishwasher? Garbage Disposal? No and no. Of course not. But what does it have? The basics. And that, along with some inspiration, is all I need to create wonderful dishes.

This weekend, as part of my house cleaning extravaganza, I cleaned my kitchen. I threw away things, I organized, I wiped down counters, I took inventory of my spices, and I cleaned!! I find that a top to bottom scrub and reorganization of my kitchen (and my closet!) every once in awhile are absolutely necessary. It gives me a reason to throw away the old stuff, and find room for the new. I frequently dream about having a big kitchen. Having the luxury of a full size oven, lots of counter space, tons of storage space, and a big table my family and friends can gather around. A recent post on Smitten Kitchen about the author’s small kitchen made me think about my space.

My small kitchen has also taught me a lot of things. How to stay organized for example. How to think through a recipe and execute it so that I’m making the most of my space. How to effectively store my things. And what tools and gadgets do I absolutely need, and which ones can I do away with? My small space has also helped me fine tune my organizational skills. How do I manage to cook in a small kitchen? What are some of my tips?

Clear the counter space! As much as possible, put things away after you've used them, and find space for everything in a cabinet if possible. the more work space you have, the better.

And if that's not possible? Well, I’ve officially taken over the kitchen table as an extension of my kitchen counter. It is no longer a kitchen table. It’s a prep area. If I were to have people over for dinner? Ummm, let's just say it would be hard.

Clean along the way. It’s true, I wash dishes all night long when I’m cooking. There’s no dish station. No one to do the dishes after. And even if I wanted to wash the dishes all at the end, there’s not enough space to dry them! So I wipe, and clean and do dishes all along the way.

I have the problem of collecting stuff. I have a lot of stuff. Especially when it comes to my kitchen where I've got the habit of collecting things. An adorable olive dish here...teacup there...unique salt and pepper shaker...a cool set of glasses...a beautiful pitcher...serving platter. You get the picture. I think I have enough flatware to serve a three course meal for a party of 12. No space for it, but I've got the serving platters, flatware, wine glasses, martini glasses, champagne flutes and margarita glasses all ready to go! So for me? I'm working hard to not purchase these random things.

I haven't let my small space stop me from trying out ambitious recipes. There's always a way to make it happen.

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