Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Kitchens

Isn't it nice when a plan finally comes together.

I've always enjoyed cooking but I'm also a touch obsessive-compulsive about my environment and I've always had to make do with less than perfect cooking conditions. Just under two years ago I finally got round to replacing my entire kitchen. This was part of a larger refurbishment of my entire flat which is still ongoing but pretty much complete. The kitchen was always going to be the room I did first. It makes sense because I live in a flat with only one entrance and the kitchen is not accessed via any other room therefore would not be disturbed by any subsequent work. I also did it first because my existing kitchen was the room I disliked the most in my flat - hard to believe if you'd seen my bathroom (which you never will cos that's now also also been replaced). And also because the kitchen is always my favourite room in any dwelling.

I know I'm not going to do this very often so I wasn't going to do it cheaply and regret any decision later. There's nothing worse than tolerating something you don't really like and trying to console yourself that it was cheap but knowing, deep down inside, that if you'd spent a little more money you would have had exactly what you really wanted instead of second best. If you like something you soon forget how much you paid and you'll always get a nice warm feeling every time you use it in the years to come.

I won't go into too many details but some of the decisions I will never regret are -

  • solid wood kitchen units with soft-close doors/drawers
  • a double recessed sink
  • a fancy mixer tap that will never drip (German engineering)
  • a double oven (conventional and fan)
  • a five burner hob with a huge wok burner in the middle
  • lots of very powerful lighting
  • 4.5 metres of solid granite worktops (the best bit by far)

Now I could really start cooking. But having done all this and seeking out all those interesting recipes I wanted to prepare, I found I still wasn't quite as ready to rock as I thought. I needed more stuff. I had to build up that background of core ingredients that a good kitchen should always have in stock. Herbs, spices, dried fruits, six different types of flour (plain, self-raising, strong bread, corn, semolina and whole wheat if you're interested), other dried goods (rice, pasta, oats, yeast), assorted condiments, various tinned essentials. Also I'd been making do with a crummy selection of pots and pans which I've steadily been updating as and when a recipe demanded it (French cast iron Le Creuset casseroles are my favourites here). I got a rice cooker, a hand blender, a good lemon/lime zester.

In short, after nearly two years I'm confident of not only being able to try any recipe I like the look of, I'm also now reasonably confident my kitchen is perfectly tooled up to prepare and present it. The only thing I tend to need to buy are the fresh ingredients and to keep that background selection of essential ingredients stocked up.

I've also still managed to hang on to items I've known with all my life. I acquired a few things from my grandparents house so I'm still using the same cutlery I used as a child. A good mixing bowl will never go out of date and I still use the same one I remember my grandmother using to make cakes. I also got their entire twelve piece dinner service plus quite a lot of silverware they received as a wedding presents in 1936 which I admit I don't actually use but I have it in reserve should I ever entertain twelve people.

Sorted.

I know a good cook can make excellent food on a one-burner camping stove in the middle of a field during a torrential rainstorm (probably at night as well) but I'm not that good. I need the reassurance of the environment being just right as well.

Think of a recipe and I'll try and cook it and send you a picture. You won't get to taste cos I'll have already eaten it by then.

1 comment:

sabrina said...

You know i never though i would enjoy cooking so much but this christmas proved me wrong. Cooked for my friends and i found it soo joyful....and now i am trying to get the recipe for like everything....suddenly feel like a female! :p

I hope you'll cook for me one day :p