Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Jennifer Schaertl

The minute I spied the title of this book in a library catalog, I had to have it.  While I may be far from a gourmet, I love to cook/bake and I have one of the world's top ten crappiest little kitchens.  Imagine a box approximately 8'x10' with a tacky lowered ceiling and glaring flourescent lighting.  Now add the usual kitchen appliances - stove, dishwasher, fridge and sink - plus a few cabinets, one measly window and three doors (to dining room, to back porch, to basement).  What is left in the center is a 4x6 space with three spans of countertop - 18" to the left of the sink for dirty dishes, 18" to the right of the sink for coffee pot and cappacino machine, and the granddaddy of them all - 42" of wide open space which is not only home to my gorgeous purple mixer, a bowl of whatever fruit is waiting to ripen and any leftover baked goods that might be hanging around, but also operates as my work space for chopping, measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting, and any other chores required to prepare a meal.  While the cabinets and tile floor are relatively new, the appliances are younger than our children, and I've tried to add some personality with cute curtains and knick-knacks, it still adds up to one Crappy Little Kitchen.

Ms. Schaertl contends that "Crappy Little Kitchens rock, and if you give your Crappy Little Kitchen (CLK for short) half a chance, you'll be in complete agreement."  And sincer her first kitchen was a teeny sink, stove and motel-room-size fridge lined up against a wall, maybe she knows of whence she speaks.  "Whatever your kitchen situation - whether you have a miniscule space, ancient appliances, or a dismal appearance (or all three!) - you can still work wonders and create gourmet meals."  What follows these opening lines of encouragement are instructional sections on cooking in a CLK:  CLK Basics - "the must-haves (of pans and utensils) that will give you the most bang for your buck", and the best storage ideas; CLK Saboteurs - "unnecessary items stashed in every nook and cranny of your cramped space"; The CLK Pantry - hints for shopping and storing the necessary staples in the right quantities. 

And then, of course, are the recipes - easy to follow instructions, colorful photographs, and quirky names intermixed with handy tips and ideas.  I can't wait to try Great Guacamole, Batman!, BYOM (Bring Your Own Margarita) Mushroom Tamales, or Sweet Cheese Cranberry Purses, among many others.  You'll become an instant gourmet, even if you don't have a Crappy Little Kitchen.


  1. Oooo - you should leave a link to this post over the weekend on Beth Fish Reads - Candace hosts a food/cooking inspired meme each week there.

    As for CLK's, I've had my share. But I never really minded because I don't cook. We have a great one now and I enjoy watching Andy whip up dinner. But the worst of all the kitchens I had was in an apartment in college. The fridge sat next to the TV which was next to the bathroom door. Then on the other side of the door was the sink and a counter 2 cabinet lengths. Our couch sat facing the TV and the front door separated the couch from the kitchen counter. Good times!

  2. This book sounds funny, but I am sure there are some great recipes to be found inside.

  3. This post was fun to read and so descriptive. I can "see" your kitchen (and Molly's college apartment) in my head. I'll have to find this book.