I had one goal for the next eight years – forever abandon the tyranny of house shares and find my own place. I’m pleased to say that after five months of searching and at least one resentful song about estate agents, I’ve moved into my shoebox in Kensington and met my new kitchen.
Considering that I wrote my first recipe book aged fourteen and now write a blog solely about food, you might expect my new kitchen to be the dominant feature of my flat. In a way it is, in the way that my kitchen is a cupboard. Not a very small room that I refer to endearingly as a cupboard, but an actual cupboard jammed in between my sofa and the wall.
As such, I’ve embarked on what might be the most terrifying culinary challenge of my life, and that includes when I lived in a student flat and had to make a roast dinner (plus trimmings) for eight people with an oven the size of a microwave. Roast dinners as I know them are now a physical impossibility. I do not have an oven, my ‘freezer’ is a slightly colder tray in the top of my tiny fridge, and I do not have enough space for my beloved food processor. I have every intention of eating just as well, and even more happily, despite the challenges of my new home. Due to the fact that I live in London, I cannot afford microwave meals or takeout so the stakes are high.
If you too have an impossibly sized kitchen, here are some things that I’ve learnt or found useful in my first few days of residency:
- You only need one really good knife and a knife sharpener. Mine is one that I ‘inherited’ with the flat and has an unknown language engraved in the handle. I adore it.
- When counter space is limited, find a large chopping board and fit it over your sink. Say hello to an extra 50cm of chopping space!
- If possible, get a slow cooker, and embrace the art of preparing in advance and coming home to a cooked meal. (Endless thanks to Phil, Sue, and Hadley who got me a Morphy Richards one for my housewarming present.)
- Invest in a small amount of really good cupboard essentials. These will go a long way without making too many demands on storage. I would recommend olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, salted butter, fine dark chocolate, greek yoghurt, tinned plum tomatoes, spaghetti, risotto rice, long grain rice, and oats.
- Make sure you install yourself with at least one bottle of wine and a litre bottle of gin for any culinary failures or life emergencies.
- If nothing else, have a tin of nice coffee and some good quality tea bags.
I’m sure many more revelations will come when I start to miss oven fries and venture into deep-frying territory, but until then, wish me luck.