You may have noticed I don’t post a lot about my personal life on here. Maybe there’ll be a snippet of a story relating to some food I ate as a kid, or a sentence about my crazy freakish cat whom I love so much, but when it comes to ME, I just don’t share much. I never really realized it until recently, but turns out I’m kind of a private person. For a blogger anyway 😉
But, there comes a time when everyone, eventually, gets pushed to the point where he or she must share something a bit personal. For some, it’s a new baby, for others maybe a new cookbook. For me, I guess it’s this: my itty bitty kitchen. But, why? Because I’ve hit my limit of seeing only fancy Food Network Star kitchens out there in the cooking world. Pinterest, I love you so much, but you’re making my kitchen jealous. She feels left out. And I mean absolutely zero disrespect to those who show glorious pictures of their beautiful kitchens on Facebook (’cause if I had one I certainly would be too, happily and proudly), but it creates this image of food bloggers that just isn’t always accurate. No, we don’t all have Giada homes. (Though I’m sure most of us wish we did!) And more so, it kinda makes it seem like one must have fancy stuff to make fancy food. Wrong again.
So, I’m here to say that even you, yes you- with the mini shoebox kitchen and crappy electric stove- can cook up a storm too! You just don’t need much to do a whole lot. ♥
Soooo, welcome to my small kitchen tour. My first post about ME (well, my kitchen anyway). Writing this already makes me nervous haha- it’s so foreign feeling to open up in public! But here I am, bringing you all into my little space… my creative and not-so-impressive cooking zone. Don’t worry, it’ll only take a half a second or so.
This is it- my little rental in Santa Cruz, California. When I lived in Montana, I had a bit more to work with- a big yard and kitchen spacious enough for at least two. But here on the coast, things are costly, so I’ve settled into this mini little space and made the most of it. No dishwasher, no dining area… no dining table for that matter! But still, a lot of love comes out of this little kitchen.
I thought about tidying it up for you, but, in the spirit of keeping things ‘real’ and such, I decided not to. Dishes in the dish rack, spices and oils haphazardly thrown onto the corner shelf and draped along that red wire thing that hideously hangs along my wall, my photos and random shower invites smothering my fridge in no clear or organized fashion.
That’s me. I’m a bit disheveled and imperfect. I just use what I have and squeeze things in where I can. But it’s worked! I’d love to find a place with a dining room one day soon (for a girl who loves to cook and entertain so very much, seven years is a bit long to go without having a space to do so in). But food mania can go down in little itty bitty spaces too! Here’s how I do it…
My space: the whole area is about 9ft by 7.5 ft from wall to wall. (I’ve definitely lived in smaller, but I’ve been in this one now for about 7 years, so it’s had the most use.) As you walk in, that’s what you see- refrigerator on the left, a shelf stacked full of stuff not the right. What you see here is all of the cabinet and drawer space I have, so as you can imagine, I’ve had to be choosy about what equipment and utensils I keep. As a gal who loves to cook, I make sure to keep my most needed things near (which isn’t hard here- everything is near lol).
Here we have my stove. My little spastic electric stove. We all know gas is where it’s at… but it’s been doing the trick. If you have an electric too, you know you have to figure out what medium really means and how low the ‘low’ really is. Electric stoves sometimes have minds of their own. :0 On the back shelf to the right, I have a toaster oven and microwave also. While there’s a BBQ outside, I also have an indoor electric grill stored above my fridge- that way no matter the weather, I have various cooking options inside. (Though I use my stove and oven about 99% of the time. Unless it’s summer… then I’m on that Q like a madwoman!)
Random anecdote- the other day I was cooking on the back right burner, the one I always use, and it spontaneously caught on fire and blew up on me. Out of the blue. Yep, the whole ring. Sparks flying everywhere. Turns out you can’t use these things for years without some rebellious attack eventually. Note to self: switch them around sometimes.
Due to the minimal cupboard space, I bought this shelf right when I moved in. It holds all the stuff that won’t fit anywhere else. (And a ton of cookbooks I haven’t touched in seven years… all friends’ and food bloggers’ cookbooks are all happily on display in my living room, of course.) See those pans piled up there? That’s what I got. I just have a small handful of pots, pans, plates, bowls, etc and circulate through them all day by day. One, there just isn’t space for more and two, I’ve formed a good bond with the ones I have. That’s the key to a small space- find what works and stick with it- there’s just no space for stuff that’s not used.
On a total sidenote, seeing this makes me realize how badly it needs a cleaning and reorganizing! It’s a little embarrassing actually haha, but, this is all about ‘real’ right? And motivation… makes me want to fix it all up, badly.
The fridge… having a full-size fridge has saved me! I am so thankful to have that. The first place I moved into in Santa Cruz was a teeny studio with a mini fridge and two-burner stove. No oven, no counter. Agh… this is high living in comparison. I couldn’t do without my full fridge. It’s always full and always being used- the second I see space in there, that’s the second I run to the store (I’m a bit of a store-going freak… with three natural health foods, a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe’s, and a Safeway all within blocks, it’s hard not to be). I make sure to always have a wide variety of vegetables and goodies on hand so I can always whip up meals without needing to go anywhere. (‘Cause I mean, who wants to have to run to a store when they’ve just walked in from work?!)
And there’s my counter space. My little 18 inches of love. I cram a lot in that little rectangular pale yellowish ivory laminate space. A lot I tell you! I’ve learned to get creative when bringing ingredients out- I’ll time things out so only a few are out at one time. Or just weave through a heap of ingredients and see what turns out! My MacGyver meals.
One tip for those of you with similarly small counter spaces… create your own! I often lay a cutting board out across the sink and make more space that way. It’s a life-saver sometimes! Another trick- pull out a drawer and place a cutting board over it- it may not be stable enough to cut on, but it’ll surely give you more space to set things.
That’s it! The big and luxurious tour. But the point of this was not to say, “Hey look, I have a small kitchen!” It was to share with you, so that you could see that you can create delicious meals and do a lot with just about any space! It’s all about getting creative and utilizing what you do have. It’s so easy sometimes to focus on what we don’t have… but a little appreciation for what we do have can go a long way.
Plus, food is all about the love. Yes, fancy gadgets can help, but it’s really what comes from our soul that makes food good anyways. ♥
Wondering how I take my pictures without a dining table? It’s all about trickery, trickery I tell you. 😉
I use the photo backgrounds- either vinyl roll outs or woods boards. I bring out a little stool, set a wood board on it, and then top it with whatever background I want. Ink & Elm makes beautiful vinyl roll outs, Erickson Wood Works makes amazing wood boards. I also found one from a thrift shop a while back- it was just a few pieces nailed together that was part of a jenky table- it was like 10 bucks and works perfectly. They’re easy to make, too, for those who feel so inclined. My wonderful friend Arsy from Rubies & Radishes got me my favorite piece for my birthday last year- it’s an Erickson Wood Works double-sided board- white on one side, dark walnut not the other. I use that about 90% of the time! And the vinyl cut outs are fun for pops of color. It’s all about getting creative when you have a small space… as you surely know if you have one too! ♥