Our Kitchens, Our Selves

Being a personal chef was a really fun, but sometimes, very weird gig.

It was fun, in that I got to meet quite a few very interesting people, and I cooked a lot of dishes I would never otherwise have cooked. It was weird, in that I got to go into people’s homes, and get a glimpse into how they lived their lives through a very intimate lens: their kitchens.

I found I could learn a lot about people by looking at their kitchens. And some of what I learned puzzled me a great deal.

One thing I have to say is that most of the people who hired me were monetarily very well off, and most of the time their kitchens showed it.

Many of my clients had the latest Sub Zeros, the best cooktops Gaggenau had to offer, and beautiful granite countertops on which I could set hot pans, or roll pastry dough with equal ease. The best of these kitchens were obviously set up with cooking in mind–and two clients in particular–two of my most wealthy families, in fact, were obviously kitchen people. The wives cooked, but one had recently gone back to teaching, and the other was laid up post surgery, and so neither could spend as much time in their kitchens as they would like, so I came into their lives to fill the gap.

These two families were truly food-centered, and I loved cooking for them, and in one case, with them. We collaborated on meals, we conspired, we cooked together. The lady whose foot was awaiting a second surgery would sit in the kitchen with me, enthroned at her huge antique table, her bad foot propped up on a padded stool, and she would keep me company while I cooked for she and her husband, who loved food, but had an intense fear of trying to cook it for fear of ruining it. The other lady, the professor, always made me tea and cookies when I came to cook and would sit and grade papers at her desk in the kitchen, and chat while I cooked soups, appetizers and entrees for her and her husband to share out for the next week. Invariably, she would end up at the stove with me, to “take a break from those papers,” as she would say, and she would have fun watching me create stir fries that she praised for their lightness or ratatouille that made her nose twitch in anticipation.

The kitchens of those two families were not only beautifully well-appointed with top-of-the-line appliances, it was obvious to me that they were made to be cooked in, and they had been cooked in. A glance in the cupboards and pantries confirmed my suspicion that serious cooks lived here. There were collections of well-used cookware–all good pieces that had obviously seen years of use. None of them were perfectly polished, and while some may have been brand-named, I saw just as many bits and pieces from restaurant supply stores as I saw of Le Creuset or Emile Henry.

When I brought out my prized woks, which are nothing to look at as far as beauty is concerned, these cooks sat up, took notice and oohed and awwed at them. “Oh, how many years have you had that one?” I remember the injured lady saying. “Please bring it here–oh, look at the seasoning on that. Almost black!”

Obviously, these two clients were women after my own heart.

Then, there were other clients. Clients who had gorgeous kitchens, absolutely lovely to look at, with gleaming matching sets of All-Clad copper-bottomed cookware hanging from the ceilings, every kind of appliance you could want, Sub Zeros with Wolf stoves and all the latest technology money could buy, but who had no spices in their cabinets that were not five years old, nor anything resembling staple items in their pantries–not even spaghetti nor even flour or sugar. I had to purchase every ingredient fresh for them.

And those Sub-Z’s? They were filled with wine, juice and take-out boxes.

And three year old soy sauce that wasn’t even opened.

It was no wonder the kitchens were so beautiful, because they had probably never been cooked in.

The saddest thing was that the latter folks, who would often tell me how they had just had their kitchens redone (and then, without my asking, would tell me the -cost- of the remodelling), vastly outnumbered the clients who had beautiful kitchens that not only were made to be cooked in, but were cooked in.

This made me wonder why people went to the expense to have those kitchens redone in the first place if they were not going to use them.

I didn’t think much more about it until this year when we redid the kitchen in this house. Then, of course, my mind went back to all of those kitchens I had cooked in, and the types of people who owned those kitchens.

For one thing, I was remembering the performance of each of the appliances I had used, and remembered that I was not overly impressed by the Viking, Wolf or Gaggenau ranges and cooktops I had used when it came to BTU’s. They looked beautiful, certainly, but after reviewing their prices and the BTU rating, I determined that looks were probably about all that these appliances were delivering.

Well, looks and prestige when it comes to the name.

I started looking at kitchen design magazines–of which there are a veritable plethora on the market these days, to gain inspiration. This is where I learned of the myriad of what I consider to be “useless frippery” appliances which are now being marketed to upscale clients who are redoing or building kitchens from scratch.

Things like “under-cabinet refrigerator drawers” for drinks or vegetables, wine coolers, and warming drawers so you can hold your breads, rolls, casseroles and the like at serving temperature for hours when preparing feasts for company. I looked askance at these items, even as I noted that most kitchen designs featured in the magazines included huge amounts of space–larger than even my large kitchen confines would allow. Sweeping vistas of multi-level kitchen islands and L-shaped countertops with multiple sinks took center stage, while large restaurant-style stoves dominated a back wall. Multiple ovens often took up another wall–sometimes up to three, with the warming drawers underneath. Stainless steel appeared to be the favored material for all of these appliances, giving a cold, harsh, industrial look to many of the designs.

I didn’t like much of what I saw, but I had definate ideas of what I wanted in my kitchen, and while some of what I wanted was indeed what one would call luxurious–the six-burner, four oven AGA comes to mind–the rest of my appliances were chosen because of their ratings from consumer magazines, not because they were considered by appliances salespersons or kitchen designers to be “top of the line.”

In fact, I found that many of the “top of the line” appliances were not as trustworthy as many of the lower-priced “consumer quality” appliances. I saw no reason to pay more for less quality, so I didn’t. The piece I splurged on was the AGA–and I chose it not only because it looks gorgeous and is something I have dreamt of for seventeen years, but because it had the performance rating to back up its beauty.

The rest of my kitchen, beautiful as it is, and made of high quality materials, is pretty well functional.

Even the lovely enamelled iron kitchen sink, which is large enough to bathe a small child in, was chosen not only for beauty, but for practicality–it is large enough for me to wash my wok without slopping water all over the countertops like I had done in all the conventionally sized sinks I had until now.

A regular reader sent me an article the other day from the New Atlantis, entitled, “Are We Worthy of Our Kitchens?” where author Christine Rosen examines issues close to my thoughts. She notes that in this age where family meals are on the decline, when fewer parents even know how to cook, and many children subsist on Happy Meals, the marketing of upscale kitchen appliances and expensive kitchen remodels is a booming business. She also cites the popularity of the use of the word “gourmet” to describe appliances, cookware and kitchens, noting that the meaning of the word had changed from a person who appreciated good food to something that denoted a quality of an object pertaining to good food.

In other words, owning gourmet kitchen appliances and equipment conveys “gourmethood” upon the person.

The other point that Rosen drives home, and is where, I think she really comes to the crux of the issue, is that people pay for these expensive kitchens, because they are seeking the solace of a home. They long for the comfort of a happy hearth and home where Mom is home baking cookies and everyone sits down to a meal at the end of the day where they can come together as a family. Whether the kitchen enables this activity or not is beside the point–the image is sold to the family, and they clutch at it, almost instinctively, because, of course, the kitchen is the heart of the home.

What have I to say about this, I, who grew up in a lower-middle class home, with tiny kitchens?

The kitchen, no matter the size, -is- the heart of the home. That part the marketers have right–which is why that ploy works so well.

But it isn’t the appliances that make that heart beat.

It is the cook.

And the cook is not curtailed by substandard appliances, not if he or she cooks from the heart. (Though, I have to say, the cook might be confounded and irritated by substandard appliances–it isn’t easy to cook on a stove that has two BTU’s shared between four burners, after all. It takes a while, and is nerve-frazzling. Oven thermostats which lie about the temperature also can cause grey hairs and much gnashing of teeth.)

One does not need the best of everything to cook great meals. “One needs an open mind and mouth,” as cookbook author Buwei Yang Chow would say. One needs to have good senses, a love of ingredients, a willingness to practice techniques and experiment with new flavors. One needs a stong arm, a steady hand and good instincts.

In truth, one needs very few pieces of kitchen equipment in order to cook well. An excellent knife or two, a few good pots and pans, (in my case, a wok), some stirring impliments, a whisk, and reliable oven and stove and some bowls are all that is required for basic cooking.

Sure, food processors, grinders, mixers the the like make it easier–and I am not against any of those things. I would be a liar to say that I didn’t care about them when I very much do.

But they are not necessary, no matter what the marketing wizards behind Williams-Sonoma might say.

And so, my hope is this–no matter how modest or house-proud our kitchens are, I hope that we don’t buy into the myth that the latest gadgets are what will make us into real cooks and turn our kitchens into the “heart of our home.”

I hope that we learn that -we- are the heartbeat in our kitchens. We are the ones who breathe life into them, who bring to life the sacred fire of the hearth.

Because that is a truth that no marketer can give us, nor conversely, take from us.

Once realized, that truth is a light that will never go out, unless we neglect it, and let the hearthfire gutter because we have forgotten our own power to choose to make a house a home.

32 Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Dear Barbara,

    I lived in Ohio as a student, for a couple of years. I had some relatives over there, whom I used to visit. And I think Ohio has the most beautiful houses & spacious & ‘real American’ kitchens. Your lucky.

    -Sonali

    Comment by Sonali — February 28, 2006 #

  2. On Friday evening, my French friend Del presented me with an unexpected gift “The Book of Kitchens” by Anthony Rowley. So far I haven’t got further than flicking through it quickly, but I suspect, indeed I hope, that I will find many sentiments similar to yours scattered amongst the beautiful photographs I can already see it contains.

    Comment by sam — February 28, 2006 #

  3. Great post!(And that K-A Mixer looks darn familiar…I coulda sworn it’s downstairs in our kitchen right this sec!)

    I also concur with you on appliances. The big, expensive names are not tops in value. Our Viking gas stove-top – it cost more than $500 to replace the on/off switch for the downdraft fan. Yes, a non-remore on/off switch!!! Needless to say, Viking will never get a dime from me again.

    Comment by Jack — February 28, 2006 #

  4. Beautifully written, Barbara.

    –Judy

    Comment by judy wyatt — February 28, 2006 #

  5. Great posting – and I wholely agree with the points you make. People seem to be seeking to install the spirit of a home with via cost of “high-end” appliances. Here in the SF Bay Area, kitchens are a bit of a mania. Although I dearly hope to replace my feeble stove with one with real BTUs for stir-frying (can’t fit an Aga w/o major remodelling unfortunately!), the things that make me happiest in my kitchen are:
    1. A cast iron skillet I bought for $8 at a yard sale
    2. A cheap, flat s.s. spatula I bought in India for 10 rupees
    3. My 10-year old well-seasoned wok (looks terrible, works great!).
    4. My heavy granite mortar & pestle – bought in Oakland Chinatown for under $30.
    5. A used coffee grinder for grinding spices – $5 at a garage sale.
    6. My knives (OK, I spent $$$ on those, but didn’t buy a “set” – bought just what I needed).

    I could get by cooking everything I love with just these items. And my well-used if feeble stove. These things make me happy. And I’m happiest cooking for others when I get the chance. Food makes a community.

    Comment by Diane — February 28, 2006 #

  6. I have a 10 x 8 kitchen, with ordinary appliances, adequate cabinet space but only three tiny drawers, and sufficiently limited counter space that if I skip doing the dishes for one night, I have no room to work.

    And this doesn’t matter. I’ve got a perfectly adequate setup to cook pasta, roast a chicken, or saute some veggies. A larger, fancier kitchen won’t help (and in fact, would probably end up even messier, as I could get away with putting off the dishes until they overran the place).

    If I want to cook more meals and eat at home more often, I don’t need better tools (at least, not until I’m actually using the tools I have and running up against their limits!). I need better habits, better skills, and better planning. And they don’t sell those in the fancy kitchen stores.

    Comment by Castiron — February 28, 2006 #

  7. I agree completly. I recently moved from a small studio apartment with no stove or oven. I had my electric skillet and rice cooker, every single meal was made with these two appliances. Everything from chicken cordon bleu to curried vegtables. It proved to me that I’m my own best tool in the kitchen.

    Comment by Jacob Pulliam — February 28, 2006 #

  8. Thanks for the thoughts Barbara. It’s definitely the cook (helped by a few key items), not the kitchen that makes the kitchen. I’ve always been a big believer in timing and logistics as the solution to any spacial and financial limitations a kitchen throws at you.

    Comment by Raspberry Sour — February 28, 2006 #

  9. Sonali–Ohio often gets a bad rap for being very “Midwestern” which sometimes equates with “bland and boring.” I am most at home here in Athens, than I have ever been, and I have lived in lots of different places in the US.

    Sam–do let me know how that book is–it sounds quite interesting.

    Jack–I have worked with all of the top names in other people’s kitchens, and that is why none of those top brands are in my kitchen. I know their limitations, so the things that salespeople say to me and the blandishments in the ads do nothing for me. (I am a tough sell, anyway….)

    Thank you, Judy–and thank you very much for sending the article to me. It was a great read and it really made me think.

    Diane–there are other good stoves out there with high BTU’s and a lot of them cost less than the AGA anyway–if you want suggestions, email me.

    Castiron–once you get into the habit of cleaning up the dishes to cook, a large kitchen doesn’t tend to make you stop with the habit. At least, it worked that way with me. I can’t work amid a mess. It makes me crazy.

    That said–good on you for working in a tiny kitchen. I have worked in many of them, and could still put out delicious food. I just had to be creative….

    Jacob–necessity is mother of invention is not just a saying–it is a truism. It is amazing what a cook can do in limited circumstances.

    Raspberry–you are absolutely right–timing, logistics, and the ability to be flexible and creative will get a cook out of any difficulty in the kitchen.

    Comment by Barbara — March 1, 2006 #

  10. Barbara – great post!!!

    While I do drool over kitchen magazines and wished I had one with lots of counterspace, fab stainless steel sub-zero fridge, etc., I always think of my aunt who had an even smaller kitchen than mine (although that is hard to believe)with the usual small apartment sized stove and fridge and a counter top that probably measured 2feet x 2 feet. She would cook up the most wonderful meals.

    In a kitchen especially, size doesn’t matter and you are soooooo right – it’s all about the cook.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Ruth — March 1, 2006 #

  11. Wonderful article Barbara.

    My mother redid her kitchen some years ago–it’s pretty big and she uses practically every bit of it everyday. However, she did just as well in her old much smaller kitchen and I survive very nicely in my NYC closet kitchen. You always make do with what you have–some of us have more, some of us have less.

    I myself don’t have a lot of kitchen appliances (i.e. mixer, food processor, etc) due mostly to space issues. When a recipe calls for one of these appliances, I just work around it. One day I know I will have a bigger kitchen and be able to afford these things, it’s just not now.

    My parents do have that “under counter fruit drawer”–however, I don’t view it as a flippant accessory–it’s quite convienent and useful, just not necessary.

    Several years ago one of the newspapers did a piece on the physical changes in the american kitchen–i.e configurations, space, equipment and the factors behind it–and how its become the CENTER of the home. A lot of it was about how many homes now do not have separate dining rooms or studies–instead people are just expandng their kitchen and adding tv’s, computers, desks and all other sorts of not-so-food related things and spaces. The kitchen becomes the place where everyone gathers not just for the food, but everything else as well. The traditional notion of separate spaces for different aspects of daily life (a living room, dining room, a study, etc) has been turned upside down.

    Comment by Rose — March 1, 2006 #

  12. Barbara I just found this and thought of you!

    Comment by sam — March 1, 2006 #

  13. Hello, Rose!

    I am weird about things I consider to be “frippery.” I think it is my always half-hidden Germanic frugality that lurks always in the back of my psyche that makes me look at some things that are perfectly convenient and not at all that silly as frippery–meaning something extra that is not necessary.

    While it is true that I can afford to get things that are “not necessary,” my nature is too stern and frugal to allow it, so I draw an imaginary line between what is perfectly reasonable for another person to have–and very convenient–and what I would not allow myself to have because it is not necessary.

    It is one of my own personal failings.

    You know, it is interesting that you bring up that it is the “new” thing that the kitchen is the gathering place and it is becoming the family room/dining room/kitchen/gathering place, and that specialized rooms for special functions are going out of style.

    It really isn’t that new. In fact, I would say that it is probably a very old idea–think of the Colonial “common room” that many homes had. Or the two or three room cabins our 19th century western pioneers lived in. In those days, there was one large common room where people cooked, ate, gathered, did sewing, quilting, singing, raised kids, did the household chores, had parties–and the other rooms were either for sleeping or storage or both.

    The specialized rooms idea was an upper-class model of living in the 18th century, and then became a middle class ideal in the 19th century. By the 1950′s, it became part of the American Dream!

    And now, we are going back to the living ways of the common folk of the Colonial era and the westward expansion a century later.

    I find that to be utterly fascinating, really.

    What does it say to me? It says that the kitchen has always been central to people’s homes and lives–and even if it goes in and out of fashion–it is part of psyches–so much so that we long for it, even if we don’t know quite what to do with it.

    Sam–thank you very much! I appreciate that–I will use that article as the basis of a piece for The Paper Palate for tomorrow. Thank you again!

    Comment by Barbara — March 1, 2006 #

  14. Just wanted to say that this is a wonderful post. I worked as a nanny for a very well off family (husband and wife were both lawyers) and they had their kitchen redone with the most expensive appliances and materials possible, despite the fact that they were almost never home and, as you said, the refrigerator was full of leftover takeout food.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I really enjoy it. Thanks!

    Comment by Amy — March 1, 2006 #

  15. I know of Chinese families (mostly new immigrants from Taiwan and Hong Kong) who have two kitchens: one “western” one for non Chinese, less oily cooking and one with a strong exhaust and powerful gas stoves for the Chinese stir fries. Neat, practical concept, but bad from a feng shui point of view. Two kitchens in the same house have the connotation of two families co-existing under the same roof, i.e. two wives. Now, that’s interesting and I’ve seen a couple of families going down that route. Coincidence?

    Comment by Shirley — March 1, 2006 #

  16. Oh, I should have clarified that the article was making the point that these new “changes” in kitchen setups now were in contrast to the concepts of kitchens in the 40′s and 50′s (i.e. the Cleavers)–not earlier time periods.

    As I wrote in my Lunar New Year posts, food is the CENTER of culture, family and tradition in China. We see this in the architecture too. In the traditional Chinese home (i.e. before western influence) the kitchen area was in the courtyard, surrounded by all the other rooms of the house: the bedrooms of the parents, sons and their wives.

    I’m intrigued by Shirley’s point because I’ve come across chinese families with two kitchens, too. From a psychological and sociological standpoint this is really interesting…in what ways has the center of the home changed in China/chinese culture?

    Comment by Rose — March 1, 2006 #

  17. Barbara, thank you for this post!

    My husband and I live in a teeny apartment with a teenier kitchen- we have one drawer and a 2×3 counter. However, I cook better food, and cook more often, than my grandmother who has the fancy viking/all-clad/subzero stuff.
    When she came up to visit us this may, she kept commenting on the quality of the food we produced “considering what we had to work with”… I just laughed.

    All my husband and I need are a little ingenuity, a few good knives, and our kitchenaid. Oh, and most importantly, we use our love of food and our willingness to experiment!

    Comment by Jeni — March 2, 2006 #

  18. I grew up just south of Athens, and my mother prooved to me repeatedly that it’s not about getting what you want it’s all about wanting what you’ve got. Mom’s kitchen in Pomeroy was maybe 6′ by 8′ and the refrigerator sat in the pantry (the room wasn’t big enough to hold the stove, the table and the counter and 4 people), but even in a tiny arena that lady could cook, and if you left her house hungry, it wasn’t her fault. She not only instilled her ingenuity for working in small areas, but gave to me my love of food…of course it could have been those sweet Ohio River tomatoes and eating cucumbers out of the garden that we still warm from the sun, but whatever it was, you have reminded me of home and you now have another faithful reader. Thank you Barbara.

    Comment by DianeG — March 2, 2006 #

  19. I’m intrigued by this notion of two kitchens and its negative connotations for the house/family. It reminds me of the kosher households which surrounded me as a child. They don’t have two kitchens, but certainly two sets of everything, and depending on the family’s wealth, two dishwashers and two sinks. Essentially, two kitchens in one.

    Comment by Raspberry Sour — March 2, 2006 #

  20. Diane G–you grew up in Pomeroy? That is where the Fishers, after they came from Bavaria, settled on their farm, and then, later, they moved to Charleston, West Virginia.

    So, Pomeroy is sort of my ancestral homeland as well. Glad to remind you of home, and you are welcome to post comments at any time–nice to meet you.

    Shirley–two kitchens connote two wives–how interesting. The first thing I thought of was kosher kitchens. Though most Jews who keep kosher now only have two different sets of kitchen equipment, I know that back in the day, some even had two kitchens.

    Rose–I figured that what you were referring to was that the new trends in kitchens were a reaction against the separate room concepts of the 40′s and 50′s–but it is still interesting to me to see people going back to the “common room” ideals of other time periods, without recognizing it as an old idea.

    Of course, in my family, we always congregated in the kitchen!

    Comment by Barbara — March 2, 2006 #

  21. Barbara – so were the undercounter fridges frippery, or was it just the way they were used? I always thought they looked neat, especially for someone who lives near the market/grocery and only buys 2 or 3 days worth at a time. My regular fridge is only “full” when I have uncorked wine bottles that don’t fit. ^_^

    Comment by ee — March 2, 2006 #

  22. EE–the frippery part comes in when the drawers are meant to be used in conjunction with a full-sized, sometimes even a -huge- regular refrigerator like a Sub Zero. The purpose to which I saw them put in magazines and that was mentioned by salespeople, was that you could have a little prep sink in an island, with one or two of the refrigerator drawers there to put your vegetables so it would be more convenient–that way you don’t have to walk across the kitchen to the huge refrigerator over there! That struck me as frippery.

    But, if all you have are the undercounter fridges, because that is all you need–that makes sense, and is practical! It saves electricity and space! That is cool. Then, it is no longer frippery!

    Comment by Barbara — March 2, 2006 #

  23. On the one hand, I’m apartment hunting at the moment and some of the tiny alcove kitchens they show me just fill me with utter dread.

    On the other hand, when I was in college I lived in a dorm room that was barely more than a closet along a long hallway, with a bathroom shared by many and a den with a TV and a couch. I had no stove, no oven, no permission to bring in even a hot plate. So I cooked everything in my rice steamer. It’s an incredibly versatile tool when it’s all you’ve got to work with.

    I’ve worked with dull knives for years, because they’re all we had. I just bought a few Shun knives, and they’re absolutely thrilling. They don’t really change the way I cook, but I am happy with them.

    I think my point is: bigger kitchens with more tools (useful ones, not just pretty ones) are a nice luxury. But if you want to cook, you can make do with anything.

    (Someday, I’ll have to post about the really ghetto way we used to do homebrewing, before we bought any equipment for it.)

    Comment by Danielle — March 3, 2006 #

  24. Danielle–I took a friend shopping for good knives a couple of months ago. She had holiday cash and wanted to spend it on a couple of good knives. She ended up choosing the Shun classics, and both she and her husband are raving about them.

    They are amazed at how thinly they can slice meats and vegetables with them, and how easily and much more quickly cooking prep for Asian food goes with good knives.

    It made me happy.

    And I agree completely. You can so make do with whatever you have.

    My Dad’s Mom’s kitchen was a tiny, cramped space with no storage, that had an adequate stove with a cranky oven, an ancient refrigerator (Like from the fifties–the stove was from the forties, I think) and an old sink that was so shallow you had to use plastic dishtubs to wash dishes.

    But she made wonderful meals in that kitchen, and I grew up in that kitchen watching her and my aunts and great aunts cook delicious meals.

    My great aunts had a kitchen that was the height of technological advancement–for the 1930′s. Aunt Emma cooked on that vintage stove until she stopped cooking. And she baked in that oven–and made the most delicious food.

    It can all be done. My first apartment kitchen was godawful, but I made great meals in it.

    Comment by Barbara — March 3, 2006 #

  25. Wonderful read..great post,Barbara.
    A typical traditional modest kitchen ( in many Indian homes) doest boast of modern gadgets..yet make the best tasting food ever.Yes,its true they dont use Sumeet mixer grinders either.

    “And so, my hope is this–no matter how modest or house-proud our kitchens are, I hope that we don’t buy into the myth that the latest gadgets are what will make us into real cooks and turn our kitchens into the “heart of our home.”

    I hope that we learn that -we- are the heartbeat in our kitchens. We are the ones who breathe life into them, who bring to life the sacred fire of the hearth. ”

    I couldnt agree more on that.So true.

    Comment by Sailaja — March 5, 2006 #

  26. PatL sent me the link to this post–wow. I agree with you wholeheartedly. (It still doesn’t keep me from wanting more cool stuff, though, or counter space). Great reading!

    Comment by Cyndi — March 6, 2006 #

  27. Salaija, there is a lot that can be done with the simplest of tools. For years, I used my mortar and pestle for Indian cooking, just as cooks with modest kitchens in India have done for centuries. (Mine wasn’t as big as theirs, but hey–one does what one can with what one has, yes?) I have to admit that once I started having carpal tunnel issues with my wrists, I was happy to switch to the Sumeet, but if my electricity was out, or I am camping or something happens and the Sumeet doesn’t work, I won’t stop making Indian food.

    I will just dust off that mortar and pestle. (Which still gets used for small grinding tasks, anyway….)

    Cyndi–I never stop wanting more cool stuff or counterspace. I think it is human nature. But, we do have to remember that our hearts, hands, minds and mouths are the most indespensible items in our kitchens.

    Welcome, and thanks for stopping by. I do hope you come back!

    Comment by Barbara — March 6, 2006 #

  28. I loved this article! We spend most of our time in our kitchen! It is indeed the heart and most trafficked part of our home.

    Another reason for upgrading one’s kitchen is to increase the potential value of the property. After that, it’s supposed to be the bathrooms!

    Comment by Manisha — August 16, 2006 #

  29. I am glad you liked it Manisha.

    Yes, the kitchen and bathroom work we had done has significantly raised the value of our home. Actually all of the decorative work in the house has probably raised the value of it considerably. It would be neat to have a realtor look at it now, but I plan not to move from here until I am old and feeble and cannot go dashing up and down stairs all the time!

    Comment by Barbara — August 20, 2006 #

  30. Hi Barbara,

    Indeed its not the kitchen that makes the cook. I cook in a hostel kitchen, but its pretty well equipped i think, with a hotplate, kettle, microwave and tiny oven toaster, but i manage to do so much with it. Most of the stuff i put up on my blog are meals i make in this kitchen space. Also for about 2 months, there was only the small hotplate working, so i had to fry using a heavy bottomed pot a friend has nicked from her mum’s kitchen. Last year, i made all my meals in a 2-quart saucepan, as well as a half quart one i later found. hhaha. It just required more careful planning thats all. My only real luxury, is a german-made knife. But even that is a paring one i use for everything from julienne vegetables to disjointing whole chickens, It just does not feel safe to have a $200 super-knife lying around in a shared kitchen. Neither do i want to store it in my four by four room. So i’ll just make do for now.

    When i was young, my grandmother’s house had a huge outdoor kitchen and dining area. It was a corner of the house, and was included in the roof part, but it had no sides where the outermost walls should have been. I have so many wonderful memories of that kitchen, running around, or watching my mum, grandma some aunts and all the domestic helpers from our different households working together in the same kitchen. There was a big charcoal stove that would be taken out of storage during festivals to make big pots of soup. In Singapore, it’s warm year round, so such an open concept was possible. all one needed was roll down bamboo blinds to keep out the rain. Also, I have also seen a few homes with an external kitchen. Because its outside, its easier to deepfry or stir fry, and not have to deal with the smell permeating the whole house. That said its not so much another kitchen as a simple extension of the existing kitchen.

    Comment by DEe — October 16, 2006 #

  31. [...] Good Stuff Filed under: Links, Uncategorized — proactivebridesmaid @ 6:01 pm Have you ever read something and thought, “Damn, I wish I’d written that.” [...]

    Pingback by Good Stuff « proactive bridesmaid — April 17, 2007 #

  32. what is the difference between a gourmet kitchen and a standard kitchen?

    Comment by Candee — August 3, 2007 #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress. Graphics by Zak Kramer.
Design update by Daniel Trout.
Entries and comments feeds.