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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Behind the Cupboard Door (A Kitchen Tour)

I have decided to write a different type of post today, not a recipe, but a tour of my kitchen.  This is the place I spend a lot of time, obsess over and clean like mad.  My kitchen is my  tiny haven.   I would love one day to have a large space just like those celebrity cooks but for now I have to make due with this tiny, yet practical, room.

Four years ago I had the old kitchen ripped out and replaced with the closest thing I could get to my 'dream' kitchen.  A design based on space allowance and unfortunately limited  budget.  This post takes you behind the scenes, behind the cupboard doors, in the drawers and under the sink.  Full exposure.

For readers that don't know me - this is me!  For friends and family I feel you are about to get an insight in to my slightly OCD ways.

NOTE: The photos you are about to see have not been stage...yes...I am this obsessive... 

Lets start with the cupboard I seem to be in the most.  This is the plate and glasses space.  I have 8 of everything...not because I can seat 8 around my dinner table, but because I would just hate to have odd plates when people call round.  Also, if one should break you have a spare (although I would go straight out again and buy a replacement).  Most of my plates are from good old IKEA and as you see they are white (a trend you will see a lot).  White is great for any type of meal and I feel the plate should not draw attention away from the food.

As for glasses, well, rows make up my 'everyday' collection, again 6 or 8 of everything.  Mugs are basic black.  I am not one for random items.  It must be a collection and to me a collection means 4 or more.  I can appreciate other peoples collections of items, not all matching, or even collections of items where the colour scheme is the same, I do like it...just not in this house.

The cupboard above holds my collection of serving plates, dessert plates, cake stand and coffee item collection.  Ok, so here I do have a few stray colours that found there way in.   My coffee collection consists of espresso mugs, milk frothing jugs and sugar/cocoa shakers.  Stored carefully in its protective case is my mezzaluna, thank you Nigella, perfect for quickly chopping chocolate, herbs or nuts.  

I also converted the space under the stairs in to a small but useable pantry.  Here I store larger items, items I should not really have brought and those 'odd' things that would mess up the look of my cupboards if I attempted to squeeze them in.

The everyday food cupboard contains my tea, coffee beans (no instant in this house), sugar and seasoning items.  Bread, eggs and pasta can be found here too.  I tend to use fresh herbs where possible but I like to keep a collection of spices and some dried herbs.  You may notice a slight obsession with gravy (the result of a Tesco shopping error) and a range of packet mixes.    I use Maldon set salt in all my cooking, its perfect for sweet and savoury dishes.   I don't tend to eat much bread, often buying it for one or two slices and then finding a mouldy mound a week or so later.  This space also stores veg not suitable for storing in the fridge - onions, garlic and other items, but the Tesco shop hasn't arrived yet so  like Mother Hubbered the cupboards are bare.  

The baking cupboard.  Here I store, just like a supermarket, tins and jars, baking powder and flours, sugars and extracts.  I try not to allow things to hide away at the back but this cupboard has a bit of a mixture so I have to accept it won't be perfectly laid out.  The other half of the cupboard is tins and yes, behind the chopped tomatoes you will find another tin of chopped tomatoes  and likewise with the rest (it is my mini supermarket).  I would have loved one of those pull out larder floor to ceiling drawers but space just would not allow.

Normally I like everything to be hidden away, neat and tidy, but this open shelving area came about by accident.  It started with a single shelf for storing my cookbook collection.  I then added the next shelf down - a shelf to store my coffee presses, blender jugs and the odd cookbook.  After that I had an idea.  Due to my limited worktop space I thought it would be good to have a shelf that I could store my food processor and blender.  These two items are very heavy so under the shelf I added some brackets to support the additional weight.    Behind the fridge is  a range of plugs so both the processor and blender are always plugged in ready to go.  The only issue I have is the feed tube catches the top of the shelf above so I need to do some height adjustments.   Next shelf down supports some cocktail glasses (that wont fit in the cupboard), tabletop salt pigs, pastry cutters and scales.  The final shelf holds my pasta pan, immersion stick blender and there are two hooks to store my whisk and dough hook attachments for the Kenwood.  Hidden out of sight below is my Dyson handheld vacuum perfect for cleaning up after a messy cook.

Yes, I have one of those horrible hatch idea why...its not like my house is massive and requires quicker access from kitchen to table.  This hatch is not used, the other side has a bookcase covering it, therefore I decided to use this as a storage area for some utensils.  Measuring cups, tongs, microplane and candy thermometer are stored here.  Sea-salt pig and pepper always close at hand.    Sugar and milk jug ready for guests.  Digital timer is a must.  Next is my Voodoo Knife block, a present from a few years past, black to match the kitchen.  I could do with some new knives as the ones that came with it are ok but not really perfect.  I often have to get the knife sharpener out to take off the dull edges.

I only have three drawers in my kitchen.  I made an error when planning and instead of getting the five drawer I ended up with the three.  Top holds cutlery (8 of each...) middle drawer holds all the other utensils I can't hang (or want too) and the bottom larger drawer is my plastic item graveyard.  I would love more drawer space for tablecloths,  bits and pieces etc  but they would simply not fit.  I admit that the middle drawer is a mess - however its an organised mess and I do try and keep it tidy.

Between the cooker and sink is a corner cupboard with pull out shelfs.  You can't really tell from the photo but these shelfs pull out all the way so getting to items at the back is easy.  I   prefer to have stainless steel cookware and mixing bowls.  I dislike non-stick pans (the black coating always spoils it for me) and find that as long as you look after your pans they will continue to look great for years.  The little blue handle sticking out of the top pan is my single fried egg pan, I could not find it in black so blue had to do.  This space is also great for storing oversized baking pans and casserole dishes.  You may also spot my coffee bean grinder.  I would like a burr grinder for more precise grinding - its on my santa list.

I also have a drawer under the oven, to store baking sheets and parchment paper.

The extractor cupboard houses tall items like breakfast cereals and bottles.  Here I keep my collection of vitamin pills, plasters (hopefully I never need them), pens for lists and those little tubs of sauce you get in fast food chains - you never know when you need some BBQ sauce but don't want to buy a whole bottle.  I don't drink wine, but I do use it in my cooking, therefore I tend to by miniature bottles and keep them here for whenever they are needed.  This space also doubles as a drinks cabinet however its a little bare at the moment with only one tiny bottle of vodka tucked away.  I am not a drinker but normally  this space hides a few bottles of spirits ready for those nights when cake will not do.

And finally, under the sink, I did say this was an 'access all areas' post.  Most of the space under my sink is taken up by the waste disposal and a jumble of tubing from the washing machine, dishwasher and overflow pipes.  Nothing special under here, just the normal cleaning products and cleaning cloths.  I really don't like anything on display so I keep all the wash sponges, scrub brushes and other cloths hidden in this space, placed in a metal tub.  

I have an issue with power points in my kitchen...technically I only have 3 usable ones, with the rest taken up by appliances.  Therefore I decided to fix a four point extension lead under the sink (well away from water etc) and I use this for my stand mixer and other items.  Its a lifesaver!

So, that's my kitchen, behind the doors, the hidden world of slightly obsessive stacking, organising and displaying.  Tiny it may be, but everything is at hand, everything has its place and everything is useful to me.  Hoped you enjoyed being nosy.

Next post will be a recipe :-)