My kitchen is about as clean as it has been in months. No dirty dishes in the sink, or clean dishes left to dry – for what normally lasts two or three days. No bits and pieces of food or splashes and stains on the stovetop. It’s all pretty immaculate. And for good reason, it has hardly been used in the last week – which is a rare thing to have happen. And that will continue to be the trend, for at least one more night.
I have culinary malaise. Don’t worry it’s not contagious – you will not catch it from subscribing to my blog (which is located in the top left corner of this page). But I’ve had a hard time luring in my normal excitement of making dinner. Having others make food for me might be to blame, because as we all know, the best meal is the one that we didn’t make ourselves. And the last week or two has been full of birthday dinners and pizza, baseball bratwursts and boxed mac n’ cheese.
So I have no enthralling tale of food and a recipe to match.
But since we’re on the topic, I’d like to go ahead and discuss my kitchen.
Well there’s not much kitchen to speak of. It’s barely big enough for one person. I have one small area designated for counter space – which is fighting for elbowroom with a paper towel roll, a toaster, and a knife block. Once the cutting board goes down, finding room to set a bowl down or rest a hot pan becomes a challenge. If the oven isn’t on, most items find a home and sometimes get forgotten in there until I need it again. I’ll put things on chairs and ledges and point fans on cooling dishes that I’ve rested on bookshelves in the living room (which is conveniently located right next to the kitchen).
Surely I’m not the first or the last to complain about the size of their kitchen. But I am not intimated by its smallness. It does not prevent me from attempting anything. Sure there is a lack of counter space, and not nearly enough cabinet space, which is why I installed some hand-dandy shelving on the wall (and why my oven doubles as a storage unit). The coils on the stovetop have hot spots and aren’t flat, so all the oil collects at one end of the pan, and I have to constantly swirl the pan before adding anything. But this kitchen cannot beat me. On most nights I defy it by whipping up some incredible meals.
There’s a level of organization that goes into cooking in a small kitchen. When I’m at my mom’s, there’s a seemingly endless amount of space and time for cooking, but in my tiny shoebox of a kitchen, space and time are condensed. Things get chopped and put in bowls and strewn across the “bar” counter above the range, and items are stored in the fridge until the moment they are needed. Everything is methodically calculated for precision.
However, it doesn’t take much to trip me up and throw the whole thing into a tailspin, causing me to frantically cook – sometimes without taking a breath until I get caught up and can turn off the burners. All it takes is a pan that is too hot, or a vegetable left in the fridge when it needed to be chopped, or something I left in the oven for safe keeping when it needed to come out to push the frenzied button and turn me into a whirling dervish.
Most preparations are messy (remember Coleslaw for 100?). But there’s no way around it. I am the type of cook that doesn’t stop to tidy up and wash dishes; I cook until I am done and deal with the aftermath after my belly has been filled.
On the positive end of things, there’s really not much kitchen to clean; but, all 40 square feet or so, looks a lot messier when you’re standing in it. The floor underneath me is an ugly, faded, slightly warped linoleum that is a black hole for scraps of food. I sweep the floor every day, sometimes twice a day and find myself frequently mopping up stains and scraping at sticky I-don’t-know-what’s.
I know it has been awhile kitchen, but I’ll see you tomorrow, around 6pm. Tomorrow night, you and I are going to dance. And it’s going to be dirty.