We finally moved into our new house last weekend, after 3 weeks of being homeless. The kitchen has all the things I want, and few of the things I don’t; living in 6 different rented flats in the past 7 years has given me a good appreciation for what I need in a kitchen.
Lighting is important, and this place has plenty, including 3 skylights which allow lots of natural light in – I’ve lusted after kitchen skylights since seeing Nigella’s on ‘Nigella Bites’. It also has a gas stove but electric fan oven, my preferred heat source combination. The hob has a central wok burner, which is not essential, but really does make a difference when you’re trying to stir-fry and not stir-boil.
I am gradually adjusting to the cupboard space, and working out how to organise the kitchen. My strategy (which has evolved from kitchen to kitchen) is to divide the kitchen up into major tasks (food prep, washing up, cooking on the stove, baking, etc) and designate storage space for each task close to where it will be performed. So, pastry items like cake tins, rolling pin, flour live near a piece of worktop suitable for rolling out pastry and near my KitchenAid mixer.
Here are some of the other things I have learned from my various kitchens:
- Spices work best in a drawer. I have some great little metal tins for some of mine, which live on their side so I can see the labels. Alternatively, label your jars on the top so you can easily see them all.
- I have a plastic drawer from Muji that lives in a cupboard and stores most of my baking paraphenalia (cutters, sugar thermometer, KitchenAid accessories, tart tins). This keeps them tidy and also makes them much easier to move house with.
- Cake tins can happily live somewhere fairly inaccessible. I bake regularly, but don’t often use the same tin twice in a row, meaning that each type of tin is needed fairly infrequently.
- Stack chopping boards and baking trays on their sides if you have room. This makes it much easier to get them out. Lakeland produce a specific rack for this purpose.
- Oils, vinegars and condiments like Worcester sauce are best kept somewhere near the stove, but should also be kept fairly cool and away from the light if you can – and it’s rare that you can find anywhere that fulfils all these criteria. I tend to go for close above the others, so I can grab something and splosh it in the pan in an instant. (By the way, sesame oil should be kept in the fridge – as with all nut oils, it can easily go rancid).