Our kitchen is Rabat is definitely bigger than our kitchen in Arlington, VA, but I’m not sure I actually have more working counter space. The kitchen here is long and narrow and we also keep the washing machine in the kitchen (All my housework in one centralized location?!? Yippee!). Perhaps what I love most about the kitchen is the little patio off of the kitchen because it brings in a lot of natural light and makes it easy to hang our clothes out to dry. The biggest change and challenge is definitely the stove and oven.
I’m grateful for a gas stove, but weary that a large canister of butane or propane (I don’t know what is in the tank) sits right in our kitchen, next to the stove. There are no gas lines in the building, which I understand to be the norm here, so almost all apartments have one of these tanks in the kitchen. I’m not sure if the common practice of keeping these fuel tanks in the home provides me comfort or more anxiety. Don’t even get me started on the lack of smoke detectors (what used to be a nuisance, now seems like a luxury?) Regardless, it’s the reality and I need to be at peace with it.
The stove doesn’t have a pilot light, which means I need to light the stove top with a lighter every time I want to use it. It takes some getting used to, but the real adjustment is the oven. The oven itself is substantially smaller than the ovens in the US and lighting the oven with the lighter is not my favorite task (did, I mention the tank of butane/propane next to the oven?). That said, I’ve gotten the hang of lighting the oven, but the kicker is the lack of a thermostat or oven thermometer.
Boy, am I glad I packed my oven thermometer! I thought I’d pack it for the convenience of having a Fahrenheit conversion, but as it turns out, without my oven thermometer I would have NO IDEA what the oven temperature is. None. All I have on the dial are these little rectangles of varying thicknesses. What do these even mean? Even with my oven thermometer, I’m still trying to develop a technique for keeping the oven at a steady temperature. Right now, this means turning the oven on, watching the thermometer like a hawk, turning it to the lowest setting/thinnest rectangle when I’m about 50 degrees Fahrenheit away from the desired temperature, and periodically opening the oven to let out heat if the I’m above my desired temperature. This adds a whole new dimension and challenges to baking, but my first batch of Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies seemed to turn out just fine. If you have one of these ovens and a trick for keeping the temperature steady, please send me tips! I’m all ears!
OUR KITCHEN IN ARLINGTON, VA (2011-2013)
One thing I hate about watching cooking shows is the kitchen and prep. Who wouldn’t love to cook in those large kitchens with granite counter tops, multiple sinks, multiple ovens, and pre-chopped, pre-measured ingredients? Of course it looks easy and delicious!
As a result of those glorious and glamorous tv kitchens, many people I’ve met tell me that their kitchen is “too small for cooking.” I don’t believe it. If you have a stove, a sink and a chef’s knife, you can cook. Our kitchen is 36 sq. ft. It is a tiny galley kitchen – a mere nine feet long and at the widest point, 4 ft wide. No stainless steel in my kitchen. We’ve got the renter’s white. Countertops? Don’t even get me started.
A small kitchen taught me the importance of kitchen cleanliness and organization. Take it out, use it, put it away. There is just no space to lay out all of the ingredients for prepping and measuring. I have room for a cutting board, a waste bowl and maybe a small plate on my counter top.
While I drool over and envy the luxurious kitchens in magazines and on tv, I must admit that I love the challenge of a small kitchen. That’s my competitive spirit. The limited space creates a challenge in and of itself. Homemade pasta? I’m not gonna let lack of counter space get me down! Italian rainbow cookies? Yes please! If I can make it in my tiny, out of date kitchen, a small kitchen is no excuse for eating out.
I’d love to see how a celebrity chef functions in my kitchen and challenge them to a small kitchen throwdown!