I think I will be forever the queen of small kitchens! Anyone who visited my last apartment in Italy will tell you that it was a TINY kitchen with a tiny fridge and tiny sink and not an ounce of bench space. Our last apartment in Sydney was probably my biggest kitchen I have owned and I did not let that space go unused…that’s right I started up a catering company from home that went gangbusters in the end and I think I was pumping out food for 100 pax each week.
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t anything fancy; we lived in a two bedroom apartment in a nice end of town but the building hadn’t been renovated since the construction back in the 1990s. I did manage to get a new oven seeing as the original one from the 90s blew up (that was in fact a god send in the end!).
After working in lots of commercial kitchens around the world and making some of the best food I have ever prepared in tiny, shitty, old and rundown kitchens I am starting to wonder if size really does matter when it comes to food?
Of course I scan pinterest with the best of them ‘liking’ my favourite wooden bench tops, great storage ideas for dreamy kitchens but really, would I be cooking any more with a larger kitchen? I ask myself this question quite often and I am yet to answer it truthfully.
When I first saw my latest Italian cucina (not quite like the Vogue model in my mind), I was impressed at how modern it looked and extremely excited at the hide away dishwasher on the right. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to lose my dishwasher for a whole year. The first 6 years of married life were without a dishwasher and I wasn’t about to give it up so flippantly let me tell you!
It wasn’t until further inspection that I realised I had none, nope, zippo counter space…..hmmmmm this looked familuar. On further inspection I then realised there was only one cupboard for dry food, a cupboard for the bin, one for our dismal pots and pans collection and last but not least, a cupboard for the drying rack (this is something I really love about Italian kitchens, I think they are so cool!). Yep, back to small kitchens and I can only say small and not tiny because at least this time I have a teeny, tiny oven-thingy to cook in (I had a stove top only in my last Vogue kitchen).
With all that said, I am not sad or angry that I have moved back into prepping on top of the sink or storing my poatoes and onions in the third drawer where the tea towels should rightly belong, no I am actually looking forward to the adventure of what I will produce from this marvellous little cucina and what will be the maximim number of people I can feed from such a tiny oven and cook top…….a challenge I except though must make a note to make more friends with the locals!
The weather had a slight dip last week and took the temperature plunging down to a comfy 31 degrees so I thought it was about time I turned on my ‘oven’ and see if in fact it does work and the thermostat was accurate. What better way than to test it out with a chook (aka chicken for all my non Australian readers). The fennel is fabulous this time of year so I chopped up a couple of fennels into chunky pieces, likewise with a white onion and then smashed a few whole garlic cloves to line the bottom of my baking tray. With the chicken I went out into the garden and picked some lovely marjoram then popped it up into the chook’s cavity with half a lemon and a couple more garlic cloves; gently pierced the skin with the tip of a knife and put some butter under the skin (just in case the oven temp was right off and way too high, I didn’t want a dry bird for my first attempt). Generous amounts of salt and pepper were lovingly rubbed all over the chicken skin with olive oil. It was then placed on top of the fennel and onion and cooked in the oven on 170 for about an hour and a half; finishing off resting for 20 minutes while covered in foil on the stove top.
Potatoes were thrown into the bottom of the oven about half way to see if they would burn or cook and I then held my breath. After about ten minutes the kids were commenting on the yummy smells coming from the house (good sign) and by an hour they were doing the ‘when’s dinner ready, we are starving!!!’ chorus.
The oven works! I managed to cook our first roast without any hiccups and the clean up took all of about 5 minutes- EXCELLENT!!! There will be many more kitchen outbursts, this I can guarantee, however, there may just come a time when I need more bench space…….or should I say a bench?
So far it’s a positive for small kitchens.