Thursday, November 18, 2010

A few of my favorite things

I just wanted to make a quick post, to sing the praises of a few things that have made this kitchen a pleasure to cook in, instead of the nightmare that it could have been. 

Pot racks. I don't know how I would have survived this kitchen without them. I bought them simply because I have too many pots and pans to store easily. I still have too many, but this floating row of hooks also shines in keeping frequently used tools close at hand. A utensil holding jug or other contraption would have taken up counter space that we don't have, and not been as easy to use. (I know, we used to use one.) The usual suspects are also not in the drawer at the other end of the kitchen, where they'd be less accessible in a hurry. Instead, they're within arm's reach of the stove, where they're most useful.

Similar argument for my magnetic knife block. This particular model is made by a company named Bench Crafted. I like this particular knife holder for two reasons: It's not a big block that takes up counter space, and the surface is made of wood... so it's not going to beat the crap out of my nice, sharp knives when the magnets take hold and slam the blades in.

The food processor. It's amazing how much I'd forgotten how useful this thing was. I think I'd kept it in the cabinet for most of the last 7 or 8 years. I bought it 13 years ago when I lived in Houston, and put it away when I moved up here. I think I really started putting it back to use when I started this blog, and I gave it a designated home on the kitchen island. I'm not sure if I'm cooking more new recipes because I have the food processor at hand, of if I'm using the food processor more because I'm cooking more new recipes. Lately it's been put to use with chick pea burgers, chopping and slicing and mixing ingredients for spaghetti sauce, numerous kinds of hummus, batter for German Apple Pancakes, cabbage and onion dishes, and on and on. It's been a reliable workhorse. Don't get me wrong, I love using my kitchen knives. But the truth is, the food processor does the same job, in less time, using less space, and without needing to transfer the ingredients from board to bowl. My only real complaint is that it's not a full sized, 14 cup model. If I was regularly cooking for more than just the 2 of us, it might be more of an issue. But for now, it's just fine.

And last but not least, the unsung hero that I've been able to take for granted for years. The kitchen island. I originally found it abandoned in the basement of an apartment that I was living in a few years ago. I added wheels, I think. And I definitely added the butcher block top.  24x30 is pretty much all the room I really need for most food prep, bread making, and so on. If I'm cooking for 9 or 10 people, I'll need a little more space, but not much. There's enough storage in the bottom to hold a lot of pots and pans and 'stuff.'  I've been using this thing for almost 8 years now, and I haven't really felt the need for something bigger. After almost a decade, something newer and a little bit nicer might be nice. That notion was put in my head while building a much nicer one (sans cabinet) for my in-laws over the summer... but that's not the same thing as actually needing one. This particular detail in my kitchen is like any other well-executed detail: it serves its purpose cleanly, without calling attention to itself. It works well enough that I never notice it. In my mind, that's the ideal when you're working in the kitchen: Usually when you notice something, it's because it's not working, or not as well as it should.

One small detail about all of these things... they're all within arm's reach of the stove. In essence, I have everything I normally need, right where I need it. That makes a huge difference in everything.

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