Cooking in a cramped kitchen

Cooking in a cramped kitchen

If you have a small kitchen and limited counter space, you can cook with ease. Kitchens are natural breeding grounds for gadget overgrowth. keep only what you use, and give away the rest. Less clutter and less frustration. Stow away rarely used items that you just can't part with. For easy recall, keep a list of these items and their locations on the back of a cupboard door or in a utility drawer.

Try to choose compact appliances as small appliances keep your precious counter space open. Instead of a gargantuan standing mixer, consider a handheld mixer. Go for an immersion blender rather than a conventional blender. Choose a handheld citrus reamer over an electric juicer. And a reliable chef's knife can often take the place of a food processor. Or choose a mini processor.

Keep cookbooks in the bookcases. If counter space is tight, why cram in a favorite cookbook? Instead, make a photocopy of your favorite recipes, then tape them up on a wall near your work space. Or use a fork for a recipe card holder. If you love working directly from cookbooks, consider buying a cookbook holder, which will prop it up and hold open the page, taking up less counter space.

If you don't have shelving in your kitchen, think vertical and put some up. Inexpensive units are widely available and easy to install. Use a cutlery magnet strip to keep knives at hand but up on the wall rather than in a block on precious counter space. Consider placing a peg-board on your wall to hang utensils, strainers, stainless steel bowls and even pans. Or use baskets or wall-mounted magazine racks.

The cardinal rule of cooking is to clean as you go even when space is abundant. Keep a large bowl of sudsy water in your sink (or fill the whole sink) and place dirty utensils, bowls and dishes there as soon as you're done with them. Position a trash can or bucket by your side so that any waste can be immediately removed.

Stack instead of spreading. When making batches of baked goods such as cookies, stack baking sheets or cooling racks, propping the racks on tin cans. Stack bowls too, whether they contain finger foods or the evening's side dishes. Place a plate in between each bowl and a thin towel on top of the plate if the surface seems slippery.

At the same time, try to create surfaces. Expand your counter space by sleuthing out hidden horizontal surfaces. Any unused tables nearby? Use them to set out food, equipment or utensils. Place items on the top of your refrigerator. Any unused burners on the stove? They make a great place to warm plates or hold platters. If you aren't using the oven, take advantage of the racks inside for extra storage (you might want to tape over the heat controls so that no one accidentally turns on the oven). You can also pull out a cabinet drawer and set a tray on top of it to hold foods or utensils. Straddle a cooking rack or baking sheet over half of the sink for added space. You can even open up a sturdy ironing board and cover it with a long cloth for a buffet table.

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