So people have been wanting to see what our apartment looks like now that it actually has furniture and people living in it, but truthfully, I’m a little embarrassed to do a Grand Apartment Tour just yet. I mean, we are still using our TV box as a nightstand because apparently finding a table/flat surface that will fit in a 12″ wide space is not so easy.
But I can show you the kitchen, because it came mostly assembled! And it’s cute and little and brings yummy things to us.
I take special pride in my ability to cook things in this tiny space. I consulted one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen (she also lives in NYC) for tips about cooking in a less than Texas-sized kitchen. In this particular post, she talks about ways to maximize, and I quote, a “tiny” kitchen. Ha. I think I’ve got you beat on tininess, Ms. Smitten.
Fortunately, I had read Anthony Bourdain’s exposé on professional kitchens, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, from which I learned many useful things, like fresh garlic is always best, and you only truly need one high-quality chef’s knife, and fantastic cooking is possible in the smallest of work spaces.
He describes a professional line cook’s mise en place in great detail. Basically, this is a fancy French term for “everything in place” (or more directly translated, “put in place”). A mise en place includes everything the cook will need to prepare a dish–cooking utensils, basic ingredients like softened butter and freshly ground pepper, cutting boards, etc. And it all has to fit within an arm’s reach–often, in less space than that. And it has to be kept neat. Always.
Basically, if the pros can do it every day at warp speed, I can do it too.
So let’s begin our little tour, shall we? First, we have our only built-in counter space, which was quickly populated with our knife block, cutlery organizer, crock of various kitchen utensils (we’ve got spatulas and ladles to a meat-pounder and potato-masher, folks), and this drying mat thing we got from Target. Because we have no dishwasher. We are the dishwashers!
That felt really empowering to type.
I have to keep that little extra space clear in case I’m using the hand mixer or anything, because the only outlets in the kitchen are right there next to the sink. Also, I think the guys who came in and renovated before we moved in and put up this nice tile back splash screwed up when it came to the outlets because it is REALLY hard to plug anything in. I mean, it might be possible there’s actually tile directly behind the outlet protectors.
Seriously, I’ve succeeded 2 out of 2 times with the hand mixer, but our mini food processor just wouldn’t be plugged in, so I ended up making watermelon puree for popsicles on the floor of the living room (because, laughably, the cord was too short to reach from the breakfast table to the outlet by the baseboard). Let’s not talk about that, OK?
I’m including this next picture primarily to show that things actually do fit in the cabinets. This cabinet always makes me laugh because although the shelves are adjustable, they are only adjustable to certain heights, and because of the various heights of our glassware, this was the best way they could fit. With the wine glasses in the easiest to reach location (along with the ultra-important Canada koozies)…and the tall tumblers at the very top. Where I have to get the footstool to reach them comfortably.
It’s an alcoholic cabinet. I don’t really know what else to say about it. We didn’t plan it this way, I swear.
One of the best pieces of advice I read before moving to NYC was to get an extra prep space surface of some sort and always, always, always keep it clear.
So when we found this fairly affordable kitchen cart at the East Harlem Target, it was basically love at first sight.
The top drawer holds plenty of extra cooking utensils, like measuring spoons and the pastry blender. The bottom exposed shelf holds all kinds of plastic bags, as well as foil and plastic wrap. The top shelf is for baking and cooking essentials, like olive oil, sugar, non-stick cooking spray…and peanut butter. The other part I use for cooking things I don’t need very much, like tea bags and my mandoline.
Plus, there is totally a towel bar on one side, which is awesome. And plenty of space on top to keep the cookbook/recipe holder, a few ingredients, and a glass of water. Because cooking is so dehydrating, don’t you know?
I forgot to mention this, but the actual kitchen only has one lonely drawer. And it’s really skinny, so it can only hold a can opener, some kitchen scissors, a wine bottle corkscrew, a jar opener, and a bottle opener. Do you detect a theme? It’s a drawer of things that open other things!
And there’s also a wine aerator in there. Because we’re fancy like that, and it’s BFFs with the corkscrew. And also probably the alcoholic glassware cabinet.
In terms of other features of the kitchen that we added, Sean was super-nice and installed this “pantry” shelf for me. Oh, I forgot to mention. There’s no pantry.
This shelf does a fine job holding our small cookbook collection, our spice rack, dry pasta and rice, crackers, and other random food items. However, in order to reach this handy little guy, I need help from my sous-chef.
That is to say, my portable, fold-out step stool. We found this handy-dandy tool at the Midtown East Home Depot. Which, I must say, was a frighteningly large Home Depot. Especially since no one shopping there lives in an actual house.
I use this step-stool to reach a lot of the kitchen cabinet shelves, too, as I am hobbit-sized and the kitchen, like so much of New York City, is built vertically. Sean has also used it to reach the stowaway storage space above our bedroom closet. Step stools: Not just for the vertically challenged anymore!
There are still some more organizational things I’d like to improve about the kitchen, like not having the pots and pans in a somewhat stacked jumble under the sink, right next to the cleaning products, or figuring out a better recycling system.
Speaking of which, our apartment building has all these signs saying it’s a city law to recycle, but I’m pretty sure this is extremely difficult to enforce and therefore, a rule followed by few people.
I recycled as much as possible all the way through college, so I’d hate to break a good habit now. Plus, I’ve seen really gross things here, like trash blowing down the street and cigarette butts floating in a hot dog stand’s drink cooler, so it makes me feel better to contribute my teensy-tiny bit to not making the environment a grimy place of windblown trash and discarded cigarette butts.
Does anyone have any clever ideas about how to store and sort our recyclables into two categories (paper/cardboard items and plastic/glass/aluminum items)? They’re kind of overflowing from a paper shopping bag next to the front door (I like how I say this as if there’s a back door to a fourth-floor apartment), all mixed together. Everything I’ve done so far just seems unsightly and not up to my OCD organization standards.
Also, I’m not a super-huge fan of this (to the right). With no pantry, and some precious space above the fridge, it seems foolish to waste this surface. It holds paper towels, paper napkins, a slightly ghetto box of CVS-brand Wheat Thins, and an unsightly stack of opened cereal boxes.
This is because when cereal goes on sale from $5-$7 a box to $2.50-$3.50/box, you better believe I’m going to stock up. Or stack up, in this case. Ha.
Also, I’m not going to lie, half the reason I wanted to include this photo was because I put the photo booth images from my good friends’ Shanna & Derek’s wedding on the fridge.
Clarification: If our cereal boxes look weirdly tiny next to the paper towel roll, don’t freak out and assume food products are packaged smaller here to fit into our tiny kitchens. I bought the JUMBO-sized rolls of Bounty because they were cheaper somehow and seemed more efficient to replace, as I have to put the additional paper towel rolls on top of the cabinets. To get them down, I have to stand on the step stool, stand on my tippy-toes, and swing my arm wildly about my head.
That’s all of the kitchen for now! Next I will post my humorous and mildly successful attempts at making a twice-baked sweet potatoes recipe I found on Pinterest, mainly to prove that the preparation of food in this tiny space is possible. Any kinks in the cooking process I blame on the poorly written recipe, not the small kitchen or my small self.
Moral of the story: Don’t hate on things just because they are small. I love my hobbit-sized kitchen, and my hobbit-sized kitchen loves me. Plus, I bet in a who-can-clean-their-entire-kitchen-fastest competition, I would totally win.