LIFE IN THE APPLE
by Michelle Carol
|Baking is possible in a tiny kitchen–-credit|
It’s that time of year already–pumpkin pies and holiday cookies are among us. You may live in a space-starved kitchen, but with a few tips you can cook and bake like the pros in bigger digs. And the results may even be edible.
New York City is home to black & white cookies, rainbow layer cookies –– and me. Before I moved here, I asked my now-roommate if she had a muffin tin and a rolling pin. She said no, and laughed out loud.
“Why would I spend hours baking when I can go walk outside and get anything I want?”
|Black & White cookies are like staples in the world of NYC cookies|
|Rainbow cookies are too pretty to eat— well, not really.|
I agreed with her on that note, but I felt excited about the prospect of baking in my new apartment, even if it isn’t a full-sized kitchen. Why? Because I love to bake and a small space shouldn’t stop me.
For the past year, I endured a two-hour daily commute to work in the city. While I had little time to bake at home during those long days, the abundance of bakeries in Manhattan never failed to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now that I’m here, it certainly isn’t easy living a short walk away from Ladurée and having access to the best raspberry macaroons in the world.
Inevitably, I can’t eat biscotti and cake pops everyday. I wouldn’t be able to afford the bigger pants I’d need if I surrendered to Alfajores every time I walked by Aroma.
|Yum– Alfajores from Aroma!|
I love the idea of making and eating fresh pumpkin pancakes, cranberry orange muffins, and holiday cookies. While the cost of ingredients sure adds up, I’ve come to appreciate homemade desserts because I know there aren’t additives and mystery ingredients (or lard).
One positive thing about baking my own treats is that I can dodge $35 brunches by luring my friends over for coffee and muffins. In such a humble kitchen, I’ve learned the true meaning of prep, patience, and space. I’ve even premade dry mixtures for pancakes and sugar cookies (see #10 below).
I recommend inviting your friends over to make flourless chocolate cake instead of going to the local pub. Trying something new and different can be refreshing and budget-friendly, especially around the holiday season.
So put on some music, open up a bottle (or three) of wine, and get your apron dirty! Here are my dos and don’ts for baking in a space-challenged New York City kitchen:
1. DON’T apologize on behalf of the small kitchen to anyone.
2. DO take your pots, pans and shoes out of the oven before you turn it on.
3. DO use a (folding, storable) step stool to reach into the tall cabinets (unless you like Charlie Horses in your foot arch).
4. DON’T buy a big measuring cup. You simply don’t have space for it. One small cup will suffice, and if you’re really in a pinch, 1 shot glass = 1.5 ounces. And what about teaspoons? You have silverware, honey. That’s what grandma used.
5. DON’T begin a recipe if you’re on a time constraint. Stress = bad food = waste of money and time. (New Yorkers are always rushing from one thing to the next.)
6. DON’T begin baking if the sink is full. Clean up before you start. Wash bowls, pans and spoons as you bake to prevent your kitchen from looking like a natural disaster afterward.
7. DON’T be an obnoxious roommate by filing the kitchen’s only cabinet with bags of flour, food coloring and molasses.
8. DO stow baking supplies somewhere else in the apartment (out of sight–out of mind, and store far from the radiators!). Do you really want to be tempted to eat the bag of chocolate chips every time you reach for the box of Raisin Bran?)
9. DO look stylish and wear a cute apron.
10. DO prepare mixtures ahead of time to stay organized. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc). Put in an airtight container, then attach a label that reads something like: Pancakes – just add eggs, butter and milk.
|My favorite is the centerpiece apron from Anthropologie|