Kitchen Tour: Jill's Small Powerhouse of a Kitchen

New York

This is my kitchen. Small but fully stocked and capable of producing dinner for fifty at the drop of a hat. Originally a 1980's galley kitchen with yellow wallpaper, laminate cabinets and linoleum, it is now more open, more functional, and, I think, more lovely to behold.
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Before I moved in, I engaged in a sort of barter arrangement with my tenant. In exchange for very cheap rent, he agreed to gut my old kitchen and redo it according to my specs. My goal was to feel less claustrophobic, bring in a lot of natural materials, create the maximum counter space possible, and to be able to store or display all the kitchen supplies I already owned.

Cooking is a big part of my life so I wanted to make sure I loved my kitchen and that it was conducive to preparing meals. What you don't see much of in the photos are the two stainless steel racks over the stove that hold all my pots and pans. I don't have any room for appliances (other than the immersion blender) so I don't own any. This is just as well because I prefer to do things by hand.

I liked the kitchen in my previous rental apartment, so I tallied all the shelf space as well as the kitchen sink width and volume and tried to replicate these measurements as closely as possible in the new kitchen.

The result reminds me of what stewardesses deal with on airplanes... many little compartments that together take up the least amount of room possible. In so doing, I was able to reserve enough space for a full-sized stove and a nice sized sink.

My only misgiving is how hard it is to chat with people who aren't in the kitchen with me. Sometimes, I have them sit on a chair pulled close to the entrance. And once in a while, they might brave the conditions, joining me to prep side by side. Very cozy. Very intimate.

Jill's Response to The Kitchn Survey

What's your cooking style? Simple ingredients. Good quality trumps quantity. I try to let the elements shine. I like to believe that if I have read many a good recipe, watched many a great chef, and then internalized it over a lifetime, I can step in front of the stove, start cooking and it will turn out ok.

What is your favorite kitchen tool or element? My Braun immersion blender. Why even look at a blender once you've gotten your hands on one of these lovely things. I make a lot of soups. I love to put the blender right into the pot and be instantly gratified with soup. Cleanup is a matter of seconds.

What inspires your kitchen? My love of industrial utilitarian relics, the ceramic and pottery trends of indigenous cultures of the countries I've visited, preserving convenience and full size tools in spite of the kitchen's small size, pragmatism, whimsy, and a love of cooking.

Best cooking advice or tip you ever received: Don't add salt to stewing beans until they are almost soft.

Biggest challenge in your kitchen: The occasionally luxury of two cooks in the kitchen at the same time!

Biggest indulgence: Bosch Oven with continuous grill on top, the kitchen sink faucet, and a new cutting board from Design Within Reach's Tools for Living

Dream tool or splurge: Beautifully sleek mortar and pestle that I saw in a precious food store in Hudson, NY.

What are you cooking this week? I cook almost every night. So far, I've made goat cheese, no-knead bread and an improvisational pasta fasole.

RECIPE for Jill's Pasta Fasole:
Baby Lima Beans
Collard Greens
Can of peeled plum tomatoes (use fresh during tomato season)
Oregano, Rosemary, Basil (dried or fresh when in season)
Small Pasta of your choice
Chopped Garlic
Grated Parmesan

Soak beans for at least 5 hours. Bring to boil, lower to simmer and leave covered for 2 hours.
Add tomatoes, herbs and greens.
Bring to a boil long enough to cook pasta.
Serve with garnish of freshly chopped garlic, freshly grated parmesan, and a swoosh of good olive oil.

What cookbook has inspired you the most? When I first joined a CSA in 1998, my mom's friend gave me Chez Panisse Vegetables. Each chapter is a different vegetable and its respective dishes. Perfect for learning what to do with all the familiar and foreign objects that I found in my box each week.

What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen? I cooked a meal for fifty people for my wedding. It included blanched roasted almonds with herbs, beets with pear/horseradish vinagrette, roquette and parmesan salad, haricot verts with lavendar, lentil pilaf, orzo with peas/caper basil, and a whole lot of smoked fish. Some dishes were made in batches but I used only what I had in terms of cookware. The results, gathered in large ziploc baggies were placed in a cooler, carried to a cab and whisked uptown to the apartment where the meal would take place. This all happened on the morning of the ceremony itself.

Resources:

Bosch Stove from Graingers Conserv Fridge, energy efficient (doesn't self defrost) with freezer below and fridge above from Bloom and Krup Soapstone counters custom made Glass shelves ordered from glass store in Midwood, Brooklyn Brackets from Sid's Hardware in Brooklyn Floor Tiles are African Slate Frames on wall are pages from an old British book about eggs Toaster is for decoration only and is a Czech toaster from the 50's.
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• Check out the rest of Jill's DIY project filled home on ApartmentTherapy.com.

• Kitchen Tour Archive: Check out past kitchen tours here.

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(Images: Jill Slater)

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