The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook
How to cook in small spaces
I happened across this Cool Tool at the local library, and the subtitle (“Everything you need to know about setting up and cooking in the most ridiculously small kitchen in the world: Your own”) caught me instantly. The cute cover suggests charm over content, but the book itself doesn’t waste a paragraph. It’s pithy, insightful, inspiring, and entertaining.
Justin Spring grew up on a boat, with a kitchen even smaller than mine — essentially a camp stove, an ice chest, and a bucket. He has huge insight into the problems of small kitchens, including the ‘shut-off point’ where clutter stops most food preparation and the local takeout place gets a lot of business.
He is not hesitant to make solid, practical suggestions, and includes websites for sourcing. He weighs in on everything from the best tool cabinet to repurpose for a kitchen, to the best sources for cheap, lead-free, by-the-stem crystal.
This is a truly holistic guide to getting the most possible use and enjoyment from a tiny kitchen. It includes 100 recipes tailored for the small kitchen (“one-pot, toaster oven brownies”).
I have only had this book for a week, but it has inspired one full day of kitchen cleaning (!) and doubled the number of meals I eat at home. It is not comparable to anything else I’ve seen, either on the web or in print: no glossy photos of gleaming granite countertops, no vague, sentimental, market-friendly prose. The closest thing I’ve seen was Mark Bittman’s guide to stocking a minimalist kitchen, but that was four pages and this is over two hundred.
If you are struggling with a tiny kitchen and have almost given up on eating at home, this book is a lifesaver. If you want to eat well, eat healthily, entertain occasionally, and generally live like a normal person despite your itty bitty kitchen, I can’t recommend it enough.
And Also A Quick Word about Blenders
The best new blenders will now do the work of mixers and food processors-- and in itty bitty kitchens, where limited counter space cuts down on the possibilities for countertop appliances, multitasks of this sort are particularly valuable. Nearly any blender will do for basic blending tasks (for ten years I managed very well with a used bar blender purchased for $5 at an Episcopal Church tag sale; I have no doubt it blended up many a daiquiri before it came into my life.)
Consider washing out your refrigerator interior with a deodorizing solution of baking soda and water and (after unplugging the appliance) cleaning the coils on the back-- they attract dust, which interferes with the refrigerator's ability to cool and thus drives up your energy costs. If the refrigerator has wire shelving inside, install sheets of plexiglass over them-- they will clean up easier, and your food items won't topple over so much. Just take the measurements to a hardware store and have the inexpensive Plexiglas cut to order.