Setting Up Our New Kitchen

The last time that you saw our new California kitchen was in this post, “Our New Kitchen.” But that was our kitchen the way it was set up before we arrived. Now that we’re here, big decisions had to be made: where do I put the plates? Where do I put the spoons? Where do I put my 80 tons of cookbooks? Let me show you how I sorted things out.

First things first: where do I put my stockpot?


You can see it there on the back burner. That thing is huge. I’ve made the executive decision to leave it on my stovetop because it’s a reminder that, “Hey: you have a stockpot!” And also, there’s really no room for it in the cabinets.

I also plan to keep my Dutch Oven on the stovetop too because it’s a pretty piece of cooking equipment and it’s also a reminder that, “Hey: you have a Dutch oven too.”

Notice that our landlords left us a huge map of New York behind the stove and now when I cook I stare at it and think, “I used to live on that street.”

Next to the stove is this cute, vintage cabinet that our landlords also left us and I decided to fill it with food that I purchased on that food shopping trip I blogged about last week:


Top shelf: oils, vinegars and honey. 2nd shelf: a random array of things like peanut butter, Tahini, Espresso powder, and green curry paste that my friend Patty brought back from Thailand. Third shelf: tomatoes, beans, chickpeas and tuna. 4th shelf: pastas! 5th shelf: rice! (And beans.) Below that: xanthan gum and guar gum for those nights where all I want to eat is just a big bowlful of xanthan gum and guar gum. And bottom shelf, oatmeal.

Now, then, as we turn towards the windows, you’ll notice I have an open shelf where I’ve placed all our pretty plates and bowls and Wonder Woman glasses:


(We only have one Wonder Woman glass and it’s Craig’s.) I think we’ll end up using that bottom shelf for wine glasses and maybe tumblers.

Below it you’ll see our coffee maker (the coffee pot broke in transit and so I bought a new one on Amazon) and our burr grinder.

These played an essential role on Sunday when I cooked our first official weekend breakfast in the new apartment:


Those are Eggs Adam Roberts with bacon and biscuits that I adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Around Our French Table.” I love cooking breakfast on the weekends and this was a very important test-meal. I’m glad it worked out so well; and cooking in that kitchen with all the sunlight streaming in is a real pleasure.

Can’t say the same, though, cooking at night. The light overhead is a garish, fluorescent light that makes me feel like I’m in a science lab. We’re going to tinker with it–perhaps find a warmer bulb or buy lamps. You can get a feel for that antiseptic aesthetic in this picture of the very first thing I cooked in the new apartment, our favorite pasta–Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes:


Ok, it doesn’t look awful because I tinkered with it in PhotoShop but, at night, I’d rather be developing film in there than cooking dinner. Any light suggestions you have would be much appreciated.

But back to the sunny kitchen and the question of cookbooks. Where do I put them all?

Our kind landlords also left behind this great unit that, miraculously, unbelievably, held almost all of my cookbooks when I unpacked them:


Top shelf you’ll find all of the food memoirs and works of non-fiction that I have in my collection. On the lower shelfs, the actual cookbooks.

There’s also a place to hang some stuff–I’m hanging a cheese grater, a ricer, corkscrew, plastic measuring cup* and pastry blender–and a spot for my cake stand and a few glass jars filled with vanilla sugar, wheat berries and popcorn.

* Don’t ask about my glass measuring cup. Last week, I stupidly placed it on the ledge of the top shelf in the leftmost cabinet and forgot all about it. Then, while putting a plate away in the next cabinet over, somehow I pushed against all of the plates behind the glass measuring cup and it came crashing out of the cabinet, smashed down on to our ceramic counter and sent shards of glass everywhere, including my leg and foot. I mean, I won’t be too dramatic–the shards only hit my leg and foot and caused a little bleeding–but then there was this enormous pile of glass to sweep up, all over the counter and the floor and under the stove. It was a bad kitchen moment.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. I like my new kitchen! I have a garbage disposal! The stove is just ok–a little dinky–but for the most part, I enjoy cooking on it. I have to figure out the feng shui of it all (right now my back is to the door while I’m chopping things) but that’ll happen over time.

So that’s our new kitchen and that’s how I set it up. And so my California cooking life begins.

Let's dish!

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