Come behind the scenes at 30 Pounds of Apples for a #KitchenTour and see Kristi's kitchen in Westminster, Colorado.
There's so many things I love about my kitchen. It's bright, it had great counter space, decent storage, good air flow, the list goes on. But my favorite feature is that it opens up into the rest of the living area. In my many years of moving, I've marked literally dozens of apartments off the list because the kitchens were narrow, dark corridors hidden away from the rest of the place, and I spend way too much time in the kitchen to accept that. When we have guests, I love that I can participate in the pre-dinner banter while also putting the finishing touches on the meal. And when I'm home alone, baking or cooking or canning or what have you, it's great that I can turn on music, pop in a DVD, or simply wander to the couch for a break without leaving bubbling pots on the stove unattended. It's incredibly liberating.
Tell us about your kitchen?
I place pretty high demands on my kitchens. I basically force this room in my little urban apartment to behave like a fully-fledged farmhouse kitchen on a fairly regular basis, whether I am canning five boxes of tomatoes, baking a wedding cake, throwing a party, or breaking down a flock of freshly-butchered chickens for the freezer. With a basic galley shape, the kitchen is narrow but not uncomfortable. In fact, I like my snug little room: it's nice to have almost everything within arms reach. It has surprisingly decent pantry and cabinet storage, all of which I've meticulously and carefully organized to maximize all available space. It has ample counter space on both sides, including a large section that opens into the living room and is my primary surface for 99% of the my work. Colorado sunlight floods in from our western-facing windows to keep the kitchen fairly well-lit most of the day. There is not a dining room in the kitchen, but the open layout of the apartment makes the kitchen a social focal point when we have friends over for dinner. I probably spend more time in the kitchen than in any other room in my apartment, and that's just exactly the way I like it.
What have you done to make your kitchen cosy, functional, beautiful or inspiring?
Above all, I need my kitchen to be functional. Sure, I have added a few things to decorate the place: there's a happy little Christmas cactus, a few wall hangings, and a few other candles and knick-knacks scattered about to provide cheer and color. And my cookbook shelf (not technically in the kitchen, but certainly an extension of it) has plenty of froo-froo decor that flies in the face of my pragmatism. But in truth, I'm obsessed with keeping my counter space clean and as free of clutter as possible. To achieve this, I spent a LOT of time thinking through cabinet organization when we moved in to store things in a way that both maximizes the space but also does so in a way that keeps my most-used tools easily available. I employ quite a few cheap, white shelf dividers in various sizes in literally every cabinet to stack shorter objects higher than I could without them. And, though it's not my favorite aesthetic choice, I keep many of my larger pieces of equipment along the top of the cabinetry (and daydream about installing shelving in the laundry room, but that's another battle for another day.) In many ways, the layout of my apartment means that I don't have to spruce up the kitchen very much: the sunshine and house plants in the living room are usually inspiration enough as I cook.
How do you keep organized while cooking?
Ooof. Sometimes better than others! I try to wash dishes as I go (or put them in the dishwasher) rather than leaving them all to the end, which not only helps keeps the kitchen cleaner but produces a less grumpy me when I return to the sink after eating. And on that note, I work REALLY hard to unload the dishwasher as soon as I can after its cycle is done. I also am a huge believer in reading all the way through a recipe and getting all ingredients out before I begin cooking. This not only helps me make sure I have everything (even with planning I still sometimes forget to grab something from the market) but it also means fewer trips back and forth from pantry to fridge to stove to sink. Anything I've already used gets pushed to the edge of the counter so it's out of the way.
Any tips & tricks for organising your pantry, fridge and ingredients?
So important! I find I am so much more likely to cook at home and use ingredients before they go bad if I use the following tricks: - Buy meat in bulk and store it in divisions you'll actually use. Because I strive to buy as much of my meat as possible from local and sustainable sources, I STALK farmers market vendors and the local butcher for sales and fresh butchering. Then, I buy as much as I can reasonably afford and then break it down into 8 oz packages for the freezer. - Store ground meats and chicken stock in ziploc bags, flat, to maximize freezer space. - Wash greens, break down melons, chop broccoli and cauliflower, rinse berries, etc. as SOON as you get them home. I, at least, am way more likely to use them if they are ready to eat at a moment's notice. - Keep staples in stock. If my house is ever bereft of onions, garlic, potatoes, chicken stock, unsalted butter, dried pastas, rices, a full compliment of spices and seasonings, or a variety of cooking oils, then probably I have been abducted by aliens and someone else has taken control of the kitchen.
Do you do a lot of cooking and what are your favourite dishes to make?
I do quite a lot of cooking, but selecting favorite dishes to make is a difficult task indeed. On one hand, I love making complicated dishes with lots of elements, putting in lots of work for a delightful final product (Manicotti, Pork & Ginger Apple Potstickers, Chicken Pot Pie, Spiced & Smoky Sweet Potato Soup, to name a few examples.) On the other hand, I would NEVER eat before 10pm if I cooked that way all the time, so I also really like cooking on the quick (Classic Stovetop Mac & Cheese, Bruschetta Mozzarella, Three Cheese Pizza, and Easy Chicken Fajitas come to mind.) I also LOVE using fresh, local produce when it is in season, which often means my cooking habits bend to the will of the growing season. Mostly, no matter what the dish or occasion, I love the satisfaction of transforming a pile of ingredients into a meal in our table.
Where do you turn for new recipe ideas?
I am constantly on the look-out. I have a few go-to food blogs I look to when I'm randomly seeking inspiration. I also search openly online when I have a new ingredient I am working with and want to learn to use. I also really like browsing cookbooks, new and old, and I almost always have a stack of them from the library on the lower shelf of my coffee table. Sometime new recipe ideas find me: some of my favorite recipes are my attempts at re-creating fabulous dishes I've eaten at restaurants around the country. (I'm lookin' at you, Southwest Chicken Pasta, Maple Praline Bacon, and Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento & Mint Jelly.) I'm so grateful to live in an age when I can find recipes not only from books, but from all over the world through the internet. Hooray internet!
Do you plan out your recipes for the week or do you like to be spontaneous?
I'm definitely a planner. Saturday mornings are almost exclusively reserved for my weekly pilgrimage to the farmers market, the butcher, and a couple of grocery stores. I'm quite particular about my ingredients and want just exactly what I want. But, to keep myself from going BANANAS and buying everything that looks good at the farmers market (which is everything, all the time, always) I have to make a plan. Our evening schedules are seldom the same from week to week, and I hate wasting food or money. Planning is the only way I can ensure I waste neither. Occasionally, I'll make an adjustment or swap nights, but overall I stay pretty close to my plan every week.
If you had three wishes, what would you do to make this your dream kitchen?
Oh my gosh! Well, honestly, I think I might not be able to get my dream kitchen in an apartment, but I can easily identify three things that would make THIS kitchen more dreamy. The first one is EASY: what I wouldn't give for an over-sized gas range with six burners and a griddle. My standard-apartment-issue glass-top stove drives me up the wall. Frying pans spin around on the slick surface, each burner heats at different rates, the surface stays hot waaaay longer than I like, and I think people who say "they are so easy to clean!" must either cook way less or way less messily than I do. For my second wish, I'd really love a skylight. I find I can never get enough natural light in my kitchens, so I'd really love to just bash a hole in the ceiling and let it flow in from above. I do live on the top floor, soooo.... Finally, I'd love one of those fancy, gigantor refrigerators with double doors on top and a freezer drawer. I am always looking for more freezer space (see earlier comment about buying meat in bulk) and I've been impressed with the organization of the fridge sections I've seen at friends' houses. Having glass shelves instead of wire ones would be an added bonus. (Honorable mentions: bigger pantry and butcher-block counter tops.)
Whose kitchen would you love to explore? Send us a message!