Archive for the ‘Kitchen Critique’ Category

A Work of Art

September 29, 2009

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The impetus to go to Governors Island was to see the multitude of art installed on the abandoned island.  Sadly, I found the houses much more intriguing than the temporary, more  cerebral art.    Frozen in time, these kitchens of yore were all function, and no superfluous form.  Streamlined metal cabinets had no extra handles, only recessed edges to grab at.  Well thought out details were saved for the insides – broom hooks, a towel drying rack, a pull out shelf.  I came for the art, but I would stay for the kitchen.

Nest 6

May 22, 2009

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When I oohed and aahed over the Nest 8, one of my reservations was that I didn’t need a large bowl and a strainer.  I have versions of both and space is a premium in The Littlest Kitchen.  It seems that Joseph Joseph have read my mind, and there is now the Nest 6, which do not have the two biggest concentric bowls.  Nest 6 is also almost half the price, making the dream a little more feasible.

Having a Ball

May 21, 2009


A melon baller seems so old-fashioned and formal, like who really needs to make their cantaloupes into teeny tiny balls?  I certainly don’t, but I use it for coring apples and pears.  In one fell scoop, the melon baller can take out the seeded middle, so much easier than navigating around it with a knife.  It’s a simple design without any complex parts, so it’s easy to clean and compact to store.  I used to have one in my possession at my old place, now I miss it.  Hopefully not for long.

The Good China

May 20, 2009


I absolutely love Lorena Barrezueta’s porcelain dishes fashioned after disposable containers.  Witty and well-done with all the intricate details of a real aluminum or cardboard receptacle but in a precious medium, it redefines “fine china”.  I am particularly enamored of the “classic” white pieces rimmed in gold, to push the chichi factor further.  The fantasy is to have a set for company, but the reality is the lack of room in The Littlest Kitchen to store such fineries.  Even to store the cute sectional TV dinner-like plate is a problem in tight quarters.  I’m better off with a mini container to serve as a catch-all and to show off every day.  But if I ever get a china cabinet…

A Rug in the Kitchen

May 19, 2009


I never would have wanted a rug in the kitchen.  Now, I’m having a change of heart.  Specifically, the tile junction to my wood floor bums me out.  I want to cover it.

I originally thought that I wanted a woven plastic Indian style rug, but I can’t quite find the size that I need, or for that matter, its official name to do a Google search.  Knowing that the rug will bear a fair share of abuse, I didn’t want anything precious or expensive.  I looked towards Urban Outfitters for something cute and cheap.


Another plastic option, is this “rag” rug made from plastic bags.  I love the patterning and how it shimmers.  To clean it requires hosing it off with water, but would it be a haven for bugs with all the nooks and crannies?  A catchall for crumbs and cat hair?


Maybe this kilim rug makes more sense, being a flat tight cloth weave.  Its thinness lends to an easy run in the washing machine, more my style of cleaning.  At less then $25 each, I can actually afford to try both.

The Handoline

May 18, 2009


The Littlest Kitchen has been somewhat erratic with the day job, out of town guests, and the season finale of Lost.  There hasn’t been much cooking, although plenty of eating as my waistline will attest.  Being out of the kitchen has provided an opportunity to see what’s out there and be open to new things.  It’s time for another edition of Things That I Think I Want, a way to rationalize my impulse to buy.

I like to keep my kitchen gadgets to a minimum, so I am surprised to find myself wanting a mandoline.  I’ve always been turned off by all the moving parts, such a bitch to clean for the sake of paper thin vegetables.  A knife will do for cardboard box width and less dishes.   But one night at a friend’s for dinner, she effortlessly wielded her OXO handheld mandoline, or “handoline”, a device that is barely more trouble than a grater.     Could I have my cake and eat it too?  Quick thin slices and a quick clean up?  She spoke highly of it, and if there was more prep to do, I would have have taken it for a test drive, but she was done in a blink of an eye.

The Eames’

March 3, 2009

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I will probably be persona non grata for taking photos of the Eames’ kitchen at their home in Pacific Palisades, but I like to see how designers cope with their kitchens.  The Eames’ is a simple kitchen, as to be expected from Mr. and Mrs. Mid-Century Modern, mostly in an era-appropriate enamel coated steel.  The counter top is a uniform stainless steel that tops off the shape of the galley kitchen, with only an interruption from the range.  Storage seems ample with the addition of the upper cabinets in the rear of the kitchen, which hover above a small cutout to the living area.  The stark white kitchen, including the breakfast nook table,  contrasts the organic wood interiors of the rest of the house in a complementary fashion, as it is re-introduced to frame the back of the kitchen.  Corrugated glass along the sink/range side allows for light to come through without competing with the panes all around the house.  Uncomplicated and untouched, it speaks more about the time and what was available to them, with a few thoughtful touches.

A Not So Little Kitchen

December 24, 2008


For my last entry of the year, I would like to pay tribute to Mark Bittman’s “little” kitchen.  A modest, normal kitchen at 6′ x 7′,  one would think that he would have a state of the art galley, being the esteemed cookbook author that he is.  Although I could only dream of having a kitchen like his, at twice the size of my own, with full-size appliances and a dishwasher, I am heartened to hear that he has a simple, no nonsense kitchen.   The lesson being that good cooks, not grand kitchens, make good food. This is my aspiration for The Littlest Kitchen.  Similarly, it is this lack of fussiness that draws me to the Minimalist’s recipes, basic with only the most key details.   I like that he works out of a plebeian kitchen.  Mark, he’s just like us.

Prefab Fab

October 21, 2008

When I dream of my fantasy house, I don’t think of sprawling mansions or country cottages, I often think of prefab. Practical and clever, I like to think that they are efficient in design, while elegant in installation. And I don’t mean double wides and trailers. The now passed Home Delivery show at MOMA offered a survey of prefabricated housing, past and present. Fulfilling the need for quick and easy housing, prefab homes have been driven by technical innovation and for the most part, good design. There are plans, models, short films and ads for the actual and unrealized, the most satisfying exhibit being a real (and slightly rusty) Lustron house, a wonder of enamel coated steel, like living in a vintage bread box.

Outside in the 54th Street lot, are modern renditions of the prefab archi-porn, more along the lines of my wee dream house. But not with these kitchens! The tiniest of all was the micro compact home , a bite-size abode more like a hitch-on trailer than a house. One couldn’t enter the diminutive house, let alone stand fully upright. The “kitchen” was barely a strip with an espresso machine and a two burner hot plate. There are a couple of cabinets, which is more than that of System 3. A bump up in size, maybe the size of a shipping container, the kitchen is a mix of surgery and sci-fi, whereas the bathroom embodies prison-chic. Clad in stainless steel the multipurpose peninsula is anchored by the sink from which extends the cooktop. Next to the sink are two Gaggeneau ovens stacked on top of an undercounter fridge. But no storage. I’ll stick to my tiny kitchen, but I’ll take their appliances.

Retiring George Foreman

September 19, 2008

I’m kind of over the George Forman grill. I feel like it never gets quite hot enough to make good char and the sandwiching action squeezes all the good stuff out the food. It’s also a pain to clean with all its nooks and crannies, and I don’t mean the grill ridges.

Having tried the Ikea Grill grill pan at a friend’s house, I’d trade in the George Foreman for this any day. It made great char, was easy to clean, and has a foldable handle for compact storage. The drawback is the Teflon coating, not a deal breaker, but not the best thing for someone who is already afraid of bisphenol-A. For $17.99, I can afford to take the risk.