A Tour of My Tiny Kitchen

Last week, a reader left this suggestion in the comments:

I would love it if you could do a tour of your kitchen in a future blog post. I would love to see which tools you find most useful and an annotated photograph of your store shelves and fridge/freezer would be much appreciated!

Thank you for the brilliant idea, Courte!

So let me start off by saying that these pics will not land me a spread in House and Home. But I think that’s a good thing. Long ago (over 10 years ago), I bought decorating magazines. I stopped because they:

  1. Made me feel inadequate.
  2. Made me want to buy stuff.

I think if I presented pictures of a huge dream kitchen filled with all sorts of fancy gadgets, I would have to rename by blog and sign up for Pinterest. I cannot keep up with social media as it is!

On with the tour…

kitchen size perspective

To give you some perspective on the size of my kitchen, here I am in my Vitruvian woman pose (fully clothed to the relief of all). My daughter MK, home from university in Canada, and I can crank out some pretty tasty meals in this small space.

west side kitchen

Here is one side. Sorry that it turned out all grainy and dark. The only way I could take the shot was to put my camera into selfie mode, for which it automatically adds a grainy make-me-look-ten-years-younger-glamour-shot filter.

east side kitchen

Here is the other side.

West-side kitchen

I’ll start with the side in the top pic.

utensils

Here you see some spices (I have more in a cupboard), some utensils and my knives (which need sharpening). I ate one of those pieces of sourdough after I took the shot 😉

I have several rubber spatulas. These are made of silicon, not plastic. If you make sourdough bread, these work so well scraping the sticky starter off of the sides of bowls and measuring cups. Sourdough, made of flour and water, sticks like, well, glue. Have you made papier-mâché lately?

You need only one good kitchen knife. I have a whole set of very expensive knives that an old boyfriend bought for me several years ago. I can only imagine what he felt so guilty about…

oven

My oven is teeny tiny. Because I have such little space, I leave some of my pots on top of the stove. I need a hook for the copper one, as I always move it when the oven is on to avoid discoloring it (not convenient). It’s probably not right to love an inanimate object as much as I love my 6 3/4 quart Dutch oven. I use it for baking my bread, making soups, sauces and stews, bean dishes, homemade broth—all sorts of food.

baking supplies

Next up, my baking supplies. I bake sourdough bread every week. The giant jar on the top shelf contains a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and white flours, which feeds my sourdough starter, Eleanor. I need around 50 grams each to feed my starter (pictured in the measuring cup on top of the counter above). Combining the flours saves a bit of time when I feed my starter. For a list of key ingredients I stock, go here.

baskets and bar

The hanging baskets and bar really help organize my tiny kitchen. I keep most of my favorite utensils on the bar and a few I use less often simply to help declutter my drawers. I use the colander the most, followed by the metal measuring spoons (they’re camera-shy) and the metal measuring scoops. I love my stainless steel funnels (wide and narrow neck). Jar hoarders need these.

The crock pot I usually store in my pantry but happened to start bone broth before I took these pics, so you see it here. It sits on a dishwasher that doesn’t work well (we wash by hand now) but I refuse to relinquish the extra counter space it affords. One day, I will replace it with shelving for my ever-growing glass jar collection.

diy gadgets

I’m so proud of these two little gadgets above that I had to include them. They work so well! I bent the tongs of an inexpensive fork to make the world’s best cherry pitter and the razor blade on the stir stick changed my life. If you want to score your sourdough bread properly, fashion one of these and go deep when you use it. This little tool took my bread to the next level. I would love to make more kitchen tools if I can think of any and write a post about them…

bookshelf

Finally in the east wing, leading out to the dining area, I have a bookcase with my cookbooks and food essays. When I use a cookbook, I set it in our music stand to free up counter space. I sometimes use the music stand in my room for reading large tomes.

East-side kitchen

pantry

Here is my pantry. It looks like a bit of a jumble, but I keep grains on the top shelf, such as the rice, quinoa and sorghum you see at the front. Below that are some random short bottles and jars, MK’s pasta maker, my immersion blender and a grain mill. I store beans and legumes on the shelf below. You can’t see the whole thing. On the two lower shelves I store Booty’s dry cat food and some stainless steel pots. The shelf below that holds small appliances.

fermentation calendar

I hung this Humane Society calendar on the inside of the pantry to keep it out of sight (I hide my clutter). I track the feedings of my various starters on here.

kitchen sink

My sink (another grainy selfie cam pic) suffices. I would like a basin to rinse my dishes after I wash them to help reduce my water consumption. When I wash dishes there, I often look up at the two shelves of glass jars above and hope we don’t have an earthquake at that moment. I hoard jars and keep them handy for leftovers, shopping, mixing, storing, fermenting and more. I can never seem to have enough jars.

fridge shotI ranted quite a bit about refrigerators in my last post and would like a smaller one. Mine mostly houses ferments, dairy, leftovers (we don’t usually have many leftovers) and some produce. Again, you see many jars. And butter. I have written a few times that I refuse to give up butter even though I have to throw out the paper wrappers. I can return clean egg cartons at the farmer’s market.

freezer shotI store food in glass in the freezer too. I broke a nice glass bottle once a few years ago. It had a narrow neck and I froze liquid in it (broth I believe). When the liquid expanded, the top of the bottle snapped off. I now use only wide-mouth jars and leave at least an inch of headspace. I haven’t had problems since. I still have a plastic ice-cube tray. I would love an old-fashioned metal one.

table and painting

This large dining room table comes in handy when I have to clear off counter space. It’s also great for a huge feast 😉 My neighbor gave me the painting behind it. You can read about him here.

That’s it. Thanks for taking the tour!

46 Comment

  1. What a great post!

    Over the years as I’ve been trying to make do with less (and with what I’ve already got) I used to imagine that I needed certain products or pieces of equipment to make my life – or the job easier.
    I’ve definitely made the mistake of buying into kitchen equipment only to realize that those things often cause more time and effort in cleaning up and storage, so in effect not time savers. Live and learn.
    Glad to learn from you about the basics you teach which help to simplify life’s duties and in the process enriching the experience.
    By the way, I feel the same about those decorating magazines and Pinterest…Media, though an incredible outlet for the creators who are fortunate to make a living contributing to it, it can also be a powerful tool and not always for the better.

    1. Thank you! I think we all often think, when I get X, I will do Y but you can usually do Y now with less or as you said, with what you already have.

      My Kitchen Aid died a few years ago (I don’t understand because my mom’s lasted forever) and I haven’t replaced it. I realized that I cook differently now and most of the things I made in it actually weren’t very healthy (not that my diet is perfect). It was mostly a dessert-making machine.

      The magazines are beautiful, but they exist to sell ads. Except for some like Cooks Illustrated! My daughter occasionally buys that.

  2. Reminds me a lot of my tiny kitchen! Soul sisters! 🙂

    1. Three cheers for tiny kitchens!

  3. kristinespinasse says: Reply

    Funny, thoughtful, inspiring, and helpful. I love your kitchen and think the tools you created are so clever! Bon appétit and may you continue creating in your kitchen. Great photo of you, too!

  4. Love it! I’m fairly new to your blog, and really enjoyed seeing your wonderful little space. Though I have made many strides towards zero waste I am not there yet. But I love seeing someone else with a mish-mosh of collected jars. And I ADORE the concept of using a music stand for your cook books, only problem is that my daughter is often using hers to practice right while I’m cooking dinner! And now I must ask about the fork for cherry pitting, how do you use it!?

    1. Thank you, Amy 🙂 It took me a while to get to this point but it has been (and continues to be) a fun journey. You’re lucky you can’t get your hands on the music stand! Good problem to have! With the cherry pitter, you just plunge it through the bottom of the cherry until the little curved tongs reach the top of the pit (you can feel it) and then you pull the pit out. It’s incredibly easy and the pits come out cleanly. We will have cherries in a few weeks and I’ll try to write a post on the pitter.

  5. Love it! I have been following your blog a couple of months and have implemented several of your suggestions, including using jars for everything and trying to eliminate waste. I joined a CSA at the local farmer’s market and I make sure we eat it all – we usually have no problem. I made sourdough starter but then got bogged down in the bread making part. I also have gotten rid of a lot of plastic items. As you said, it’s a slow process. I need a stainless steel funnel :). I also made cloth produce bags! So as you can see, you have been a positive influence! You are making a difference!

    1. Thank you so much, Kim! This is all great! I do love my funnels. I use them all the time. The narrow one has a small metal strainer in it that you can take out if you want. Very handy. As for the sourdough, it took me many months before I could consistently turn out a good loaf, at least six months of baking almost weekly. I’m so happy to hear you made the cloth produce bags. I sometimes have a hard time convincing people to try them. They’re just not used to shopping with them. Thanks for reading my blog 🙂

  6. Small by efficient! Just goes to show you don’t need a lot of space as long as what you have is well organized.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Organization is key I think.

  7. I loved seeing your kitchen – thank you!

    Madeleine.x

    1. Thank you for checking it out Madeleine 🙂

  8. Awesome kitchen tour! I also freeze my food in glass jars. No issues yet…

    1. Thank you, Erin. When people see my jars in the freezer, I often hear, “You can DO that???” and they ask about safety. As you know, it works well!

  9. Beautiful, yes, thanks for sharing. I have never pitted cherries, but the dough slasher is brilliant!

    1. I had wanted a dough slasher for a while but could only find them with plastic handles. I tried handling the blade with my bare hand but it made me so nervous, I couldn’t slash very deeply. This made a HUGE difference. The bread rises much more and with a nice ear.

      1. As an inexperienced bread slasher who has held the blade in her hand, I can tell ya I’m a grateful woman.;)

      2. Oh that’s what I had been doing. I held the blade between my thumb and index finger above a 500 degree cast iron pot–it’s a recipe for a trip to the ER! I was so nervous, I couldn’t score properly. With this, you just dig right in. I’m thrilled with this little tool!

  10. Thank you for the tour! I also have a small kitchen, and never enough glass jars, despite hoarding them. 🙂

    1. Thanks for checking it out, Bobbi. I have thought I should tell my neighbors to stop giving me jars but then I’ll need a large one for something and they’ll all be full.

  11. I’m also in a tiny kitchen. What kitchen appliances do you think are necessary? My boyfriend insists I need a standing mixer if I’m ever going to make bread. Is it true? I hate excess junk and I also don’t have the space, but he’s always trying to talk me into buying more crap. Funny, he bought me a knife set too. They’re second-hand so hopefully his transgression was small haha

    1. Hmmm that’s a good question. I use my food processor regularly for making things like hummus and aioli. But my friend Mrs M at Mrs. M’s Curiosity Cabinet makes her aioli with a whisk, so I don’t actually need it for that. The food processor has a shredder disk but I don’t use it or the parts that go with it much because it’s easier to just use a metal grater than have to clean all that stuff up. We have a blender but I prefer my immersion blender. I use that for soups and sauces. I could use it for my hummus and things like it. I use our waffle iron regularly but I don’t like the Teflon coating so if that breaks down I won’t replace it. If I didn’t have a kettle for the stovetop, I would buy an electric kettle. My stand mixer died 🙁 I used it for making bread but now I make sourdough bread only and you do so little to the dough. The microbes do all the work and you just babysit them. The kids like the toaster more than I do. So I guess on my list, I would include in this order: electric kettle, toaster, immersion blender/food processor. Thanks for asking me about this, it has me thinking more about appliances and how much I actually use mine (not much). I’m starting to wonder if any small appliance is really necessary. My daughter would love it if I gave her my food processor to take back to school with her…

      Second-hand knives sound much less suspicious 😉

  12. I find you need more than one good knife – a chef’s knife for chopping, a serrated knife for bread (which I also use to slash my bread), a smaller serrated knife, often called a ‘tomato’ knife, which is perfect for slicing tomatoes and a small paring knife. My husband found my a pot rack that mounts to the wall and I use that for my pots and pans, freeing up valuable cabinet space. I don’t have a food processor, but I do make room for a stand mixer as well as my salad spinner. I don’t use my mixer to make bread (and I do prefer to knead by hand as it’s very soothing) since it’s not a heavy duty model, but it is irreplaceable for all of my other baking needs.

    I think I’ve reached max density for glass jars – I recently freecycled a few cases worth that I realized I just wasn’t going to use. It felt good to pare down!

    1. Well I would be lost without my bread knife! I use that one all the time. I do use all my knives but I don’t think I need quite so many. I would love to have a pot rack. One of these days. If I still had my stand mixer, I would use it. I killed it making bread. Or at least that’s what Kitchen Aid claimed. I called and they were like the Spanish Inquisition: “What were you making? Bread?” “What speed did you have it on? NEVER make bread on medium speed.” “What kind of flour? Did you say some WHOLE wheat???!!!” It said right on it “Heavy Duty.” I haven’t reached critical mass for jars yet…I do love to get rid of stuff though. It does feel good!

      1. I burnt out the motor on my kitchen aid, but luckily have a neighbor who knows how to replace those sorts of things, so I replaced the motor and it’s good to go. I know they make a mixer specifically for home bread making, but it’s more expensive. I’ve had mine for close to twenty years and when it’s time to upgrade, I might get that one, but so far, it’s still mixing.

      2. Maybe I needed the more expensive bread making mixer. I’m glad to hear your repaired mixer is still working. They are supposed to last for decades. I have a small pile of small electrics I’ve set aside, in the hopes that someone handy like your neighbor with fix them.

  13. Awesome! Great pics, thanks for sharing. I love the hanging pots and exposed shelving with the glass bottles also. : )

    1. Thank you for that and for checking out my tour 🙂

  14. Nice tour! Have you seen my tips for a tiny kitchen? I think mine is about the same size as yours; I have a larger stove with space in the middle between the burners, and a double sink, but I think I have less counter space. It works, though! I like your rail with things hanging on hooks. We have trouble attaching things to walls (and the ceiling is out of the question) because our house is not only 95 years old with real lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings, but also a rowhouse in the middle of the row, so the side walls have concrete immediately under the plaster; it’s difficult to drill, and then you’re likely to make a big chunk fall out instead of making a hole of the desired size. Sigh.

    1. Thanks for taking the tour and sending the link about your tiny kitchen. I was just talking to my boss today about drawers under the counters instead of cabinets. You can’t reach into the back of lower cabinets easily. She is having her kitchen done soon and wants to go ALL drawers. I bet your 95-year-old house has a lot of character 🙂

      1. My parents went with mostly drawers under the counter when they redid their kitchen, and they feel like they have more space now!

        Our house has character, yes. The kitchen cabinets and counters were installed circa 1955, so they’re not original to the house but are historic in their own way; we have the pink Formica with the boomerangs! 🙂

  15. Bloody amazing post ! A friend of mine referred me to it, specifically for the quasi-lame you’ve made for slashing your sourdough
    (http://wp.me/p5StpB-4eY was what set her off), the sight of which filled me with fear. Mine is ‘professionally’ made, and sits inside a housing; but I’m still fairly anxious about using it. In fact I think yours would work better because there’s more blade available; but oh, how I hate razors !
    You got guts, kiddo ! 😀

    1. Thanks so much! I had been using the blade without the handle, holding it between my thumb and index finger but that made me so nervous, my hand inside the 500 degree Dutch oven while holding that razor blade–I couldn’t score it well–kept imagining an ER visit. Then I attached the blade to a stir stick. It was life changing!!! I can score the loaf very deeply. I hope you get up the nerve to use yours because it really did take my bread to the next level. I swapped the blade out the other day and you do have to be very careful! No sliced fingers yet though. Thanks for checking out my post 🙂

      1. Mate, I was madly impressed ! You really know how to maximise what is almost zero space ! 🙂

      2. Thank you! Well it’s either use the small kitchen space wisely or chop vegetables on my coffee table 😉

      3. I shall never whinge about my little flat again ! [grin]

      4. Lol! I have done some good then 🙂

      5. Bloody woman of virtue, that’s you ! 🙂

      6. Depends on whom you ask 😉

  16. Excellent post! I especially like the hanging bar for utensils and colander and will be adding one to my own smallish kitchen. How about a wall mounted spice rack, to free up just a wee bit more counter space? ;-D I think I’ll be getting 2 or 3 of these…
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40070185/

    1. Oooh, that’s cute Michael. I have a spice rack that can mount to the wall but I never did put it up. I’ll have to do that. The bar is a big time saver–I don’t have to search around for stuff. And very inexpensive too.

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