How to cook in a tiny kitchen

Very good cooks who are employed as ‘chefs’ rarely refer to themselves as ‘chefs.’ They refer to themselves as ‘cooks.’
~Alton Brown

I’m still amazed by people who claim they need a big kitchen because they cook. These are the same people who eat fast food often and eat sandwiches for lunch while I eat my lunch of the week. They say they cook, but I don’t ever see evidence of it aside from some big meal made for a get-together.

I have a much larger kitchen that I used to. Much, much, much larger. My kitchen is regarded by my Big Kitchen friends as being “almost big enough.” I think it’s huge. I have a cabinet that holds spices all lined up in a little row because I have so much room. I have shit scattered everywhere. And this is after I ripped out the useless upper cabinets above the stove. And I’m still using a mini-fridge.

I had three dishes going this morning. Leftover turkey and broccoli bake, leftover turkey and assorted veggies quiche, and leftover leftover turkey and leftover vegetable stock. And I didn’t do dishes beforehand, so I was cooking around that.

The only way to cook in a tiny kitchen is to let go and cook. Don’t worry about making something extravagant. Make something to eat, instead. Just make food. I had the pie crust for the quiche and the Pyrex for the bake on the counter and as I shredded the turkey and chopped the vegetables they went into their respective dishes. The leftovers went into the stock pot, which was on the stove. I pulled stuff out of and put stuff back into the fridge as necessary. The scrap bag was in an unused corner. I don’t need to practice mise en pace, I don’t have the time, the dishes, or the fucks for that shit.

You learn to cook by cooking, and you learn to cook in a tiny kitchen by cooking in a tiny kitchen. You learn which counter you prep on, so you know which counter to keep clear. You learn which dishes you use and which you can get rid of. You learn where it would be best to keep what.

And as much as it runs counter to today’s Cooking as High Art culture, just make something to eat. That’s all it has to be. If it’s not that great, well, fix it, don’t make it again, or just live with it. I forgot to add salt, pepper, and basil to the quiche. Oops. I’ll just throw it on top when I go to eat it, big whoop. I don’t have cheesecloth for the broth. Oh, well, I’ll strain it as best I can and live with the results. It’s not like anything in there is going to hurt me. Oh, no, there is a bit of onion in my broth, whatever shall I do.

I’ve often said that there’s an interesting tell about people who don’t cook. They’re the ones who bitch the most about not having the right stuff or the big kitchen. My parents cook more than I do (for three adults and two children), in a smaller, crappier kitchen. They don’t fucking care, they just cook. They make do with what they have and they cook food that’s good, if not great.

In order to eat more veggies, you have to eat more veggies. In order to cook in a tiny kitchen, you have to cook in a tiny kitchen.


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