I have enjoyed Ashley Rodriguez' beautiful food blog Not Without Salt for a long time, and suddenly it hit me that we live in the same city, the coffee capital of the US, Seattle. So the only natural thing to do was to contact her and see if she would be willing to let us have a peek into the place where she spends her time creating, inspiring and nourishing. And what do you know, she was!
Ashley struggles with the difficulties of having a space-challenged condo kitchen but she has learned to embrace and overcome it head on. When I walked in and saw where all the delectable food she makes and shares with the world comes from, I have to say I was all the more impressed. I guess I expected some big, fancy to-do kitchen and instead was met with a modest, normal, run-of-the-mill kitchen that I could relate to. It just goes to show it's all about the vision and the talent and not necessarily the biggest, best and fanciest.
So let's take a peek into the place where Ashley's lovely creations are born. Thank you for sharing your world with us Ashley!
Visit Ashley's blog: Not Without Salt
10 Questions for Ashley (and Her Kitchen):
What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
I had no say in the design of my kitchen but the first element I fell in love with was the sink. It's deep with a commercial style faucet.
Working in commercial kitchens I had to learn to work in tight spaces and use what you have so I find the lack of space a fun challenge rather than a burden. There are a few appliances, however, that I'm placing on my "someday" list for when cupboard space isn't quite so limited.
The seasons are the most inspiring part of my cooking process. I start with the ingredients I have to work with and create from there. I also love lingering in the pages of my vast cookbook collection. Other chefs and cooks inspire me with an idea and from there I personalize it.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My cutting board and knife. Those two items are the basis of nearly all of my meals.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Shortly after returning from Morocco I made a birthday dinner for my sister-in-law. There were 7 adults and 9 children eating in a space of about 200 square feet. The kids ate on a tablecloth on the ground and us adults sat around them. It was loud, crazy and fun. The food was studded with dried fruits, cinnamon and saffron. For dessert we ate a light salad of grapefruit, mint and dates with a scoop of sweet milk ice cream.
The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Space. We are partly to blame as coffee equipment takes up quite a bit of our valuable real estate. But we live in Seattle and good coffee is a must.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
As I said I didn't have any say in the general layout and feel of the kitchen but I wish, in general, that I was better with organizing. Trying to dig through the cupboards to find the right size baking pan is rather frustrating particularly when I haven't planned ahead and my batter is waiting on me. Of course I could reorganize it but I'd rather just bake. In my next kitchen I'd love to have pull out drawers.
Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
We don't plan on being here much longer as our little family has nearly outgrown our space so rather than thinking on how to improve this space I'm already envisioning what to look for and how to plan the next kitchen.
Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
My 6-quart Kitchen-Aid. Although it never crossed my mind as being a splurge but rather a necessity. That machine is used almost daily.
How would you describe your cooking style?
On a day to day basis my food is simple, fresh and heavy on vegetables.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I don't remember a specific bit of advice but I'm most thankful to my mom for teaching me not to be fearful of the kitchen. She cooked a lot without books and showed me how to actually cook rather than just look at a recipe. I took that fearlessness and ran with it. My kitchen doesn't intimidate me, it pulls me in and stretches my creativity more than any other medium.
What is your favorite cookbook?
I go through phases. Currently I'm in a rather long-lasting Nigel Slater phase and his latest, Ripe, is flooding me with inspiration.
What are you cooking this week?
This week is all about baking. I'm working on a large project that has me testing a lot of baked goods. Reading that last sentence just made me realize I have the best job in the world and my 9-year-old self would be so proud.
Images: Alysha Findley