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This page will feature links to essays and stories on food-related topics. Persons not on our staff who wish to contribute one can contact us to get the article posted here. The authors' names will appear with every article unless they are shy and request otherwise, and attributed articles will remain the authors' intellectual property.

 

Why Cook? by The Happy Foodie

On Dream Kitchens by The Happy Foodie

 

Why Cook?

In my case, it's because:

There are probably more reasons, but those will do for a start. Why do you cook, or aspire to?

 

 

On Dream Kitchens

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -- Teddy Roosevelt

  A friend was telling me the other day that he would like to cook more, but his apartment kitchen is terribly small and cluttered, and he needs to move into a big house and set up his dream kitchen so he can really cook. It made me think.

  We all do this sometimes—not think, daydream. But it's profoundly limiting in this case. If you really want to cook, you can do it with a hot plate and 12 inches of counter space and a skillet and a saucepan and one spoon and one sharp knife. Sure, it'd be lovely to have tons of beautiful equipment and cupboard space and room to work. By all means, strive for that dream kitchen if you crave it. But don't let its deferral stop you from creating wonderful food before then. You may never get it, and what kind of fast food and poor takeout will you have lived on till then?

  A great kitchen can best be appreciated by someone who's cooked regularly long before they acquired it. Just as great cookware, while ironically probably most helpful to a beginner (because it reduces the chance of food heating unevenly, burning and sticking), is best appreciated by the frequent cook.

  Improve the kitchen you have now, no matter how defective, and cook anyway. If you're overcrowded, take everything out of the kitchen that you never use. Do you have duplicates inherited from your parents or grandparents or friends who were moving out of state? How about pieces you acquired more for decorative value than use? You probably don't need six teakettles or three coffee makers. Pack the extras in boxes if you're sentimental because they came from your Aunt Gertie. Otherwise, sell them on craigslist or ebay or dump them at the neighborhood thrift shop. Just get 'em out of there.

  Stuff you seldom use, as for the big Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, should go on high shelves or in less-accessible places. If you have to climb on a ladder every week to get at it, you're not going to be happy. If you don't have a dishwasher, include in this category plates and drinking vessels beyond the four to six of each that you normally use. This keeps too many dishes from piling up in the sink for a monster clean-up job, and frees up space near eye level. The rest of the set of 8 or 12 can be in boxes, awaiting the few times a year you actually throw a party and want them.

  What's left should be a relatively small pile of equipment that can be arranged logically. Dishes and glasses should be stowed near the drainboard if possible, considering they often need to be put away. Can saucepans and skillets be in a cupboard to the right of the stove, or hung on a rack above it? Mixing bowls should be by the counter you normally use them on. Frequently used utensils should be handy in a utensil holder on the counter, hanging near the stove, or otherwise readily accessible. I like my knives in an angled knife block to the right of my limited counter space. You know what you use the most and where, so position it accordingly.

  This takes some tweaking over time. Banished pans may make their way out of the boxes and back into the cupboards when you see you're fishing them out pretty often. That's OK. Focus every once in a while and move items out to the boxes or the thrift shop that you see you're not using. When done, your current kitchen should be like a drum set: everything most needful is right there, and nothing that isn't, so you can approach your task efficiently and with verve.

  Don't wait for your dream house. Go ahead. Start making your current kitchen into your dream kitchen today!

 

 

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