Last night, I made the Purgatory Eggs with Sausage. I posted images and a video of me cooking it on the Facebook page. I hope you'll check it out if you're not already there. And post comments and thoughts there as well as here. I love the interaction.
Anyway, in a prior video, I realized how dirty my stove was (whoops). But then I realized I was being silly. Ok, I did clean the stove a bunch before doing the next video. I'm a messy cook. I also have an electric stove from 1978 and Marigold Yellow counter tiles with brown grout. Some day, I'll remodel with granite and a gas range. But until then, I cook with what I have where I'm at.
And that's what I want to encourage you to do as well. Some kitchens are TINY. I know…I've lived in some places like that. When my husband and I first started shacking up in college, we had a small studio with the bedroom and bathroom in a loft above the living area slash kitchen area. I'll tell you my story at the end of this post. I used to call it my Worst Day Ever story and usually would get people laughing.
Gordon Ramsey goes over the basics in this video:
I have to agree. Just buy the best quality you can. But honestly, you don't need that much. I find I really only mostly use two or three pans and one pot for most of my work. I use ScanPans for my frying and sauteing. It has a lid so I can also do some braising.
I think you could get away with two knives: a chef's knife and a paring knife.
Do I ever really use my mortar and pestle? No. I need to get better about buying whole spices and grinding them myself. Also I want to get over my fear of toasting nuts and spices so I'm watching the videos in Cooking With Spices: Techniques for Big Flavor. I'm going to buy some star anise and try poaching apples since I have those in the house.
Worst Day Ever
It had an electric range and not a lot of counter space especially around the sink. To the right of the sink was just enough room for the dish drainer. The left side was maybe three inches. And no built in paper towel holder. We were afraid to screw one in under the cabinet for fear we'd get dinged on the deposit.
Let me just start off by saying it was one of those days. I got up early and turned on a burner to make some instant coffee. I thought I had the burner under the kettle but it was the one under the wooden chopping board. (small kitchen with little space for storage…I wasn't kidding) And it caught on fire and set off the alarm which woke my hubby up and not in a great way. There were pop quizzes. I tripped over roots. It was just a day.
I got home and made supper. I found cooking to be soothing even then. And it was my turn to do the dishes. A brand new roll of paper towels was kind of close to the edge of the right side of the sink next to the dish drainer. It kept getting moved around since we didn't know where to put it.
Then I turned to see if there were any more dishes and knocked the roll underneath running water.
I sighed. Turned off the water and put it in the drainer. Looking at my husband, I said “I'm going to take a bath.”
Back then, I used St. Ives makeup remover. The are squat wide-mouth jars. I should mention that as small as the kitchen was…the bathroom was even smaller. It had a tub and toilet. When I finished taking off my makeup, I put the jar and lid on the back of the toilet and finished my bath.
A Bath Solves Everything….Almost
I felt ready to take on homework! I picked up the jar. It had cold cream on the outside so when I went to put the lid on, it slipped through my fingers and landed flat on the floor. I heard a voice from downstairs asking me if I was ok.
“Bring the paper towels!” was all I could say. I saw cold cream all over the walls. Mind you, I had forgotten what happened to the paper towels. And being poor college students, we only had one roll at a time.
I used my towel to clean up what I could and grumbled wondering where my hubby was. He finally showed up looking unhappy with a soggy roll of paper towels. I sighed and looked up to heaven for strength, and that's when I saw the cold cream on the ceiling.
Naturally I did the only thing I could. I burst into tears. Husband tried not to laugh. I could laugh about it later. But at the time, I just wanted to go to bed and wait for another day. Which is what I did.
So In Conclusion
Not every day is going to be great. Not every meal is going to be perfect. Be gentle on yourself. Laugh where you can. Do the best job cooking where you're at.
If you don't have a lot of budget, go look for things at thrift and secondhand stores. You'd be astonished how many people donate their cast iron pans. Sure, they're heavy, but they're wonderful to cook on. They cook very evenly.
If you have one with rust spots, use steel wool to clean it up. Then it's time to reseason the pan. Rub the pan with a good high heat oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, peanut) and put it upside down in an oven at 350-400F for about an hour. Turn off the oven and let it cool down.
Keeping a pan well seasoned ensures food doesn't stick naturally.
Look for sales. Look for wood utensils. Start small and build it up. You got this.