Come behind the scenes at Big Red Kitchen for a #KitchenTour and see Robin's kitchen in Williamsburg, Virginia.
It's small. My former kitchen was huge- thus Big Red Kitchen. But two years ago we decided to downsize from our 4100 square foot home in Northern Virginia to our current 1100 square foot home called Manderley Cottage here in Williamsburg. We are a family of five, so we are definitely cozy. The smaller kitchen has made me focus on the kind of cooking I want to do. So in a sense, I downsized how I bake- no more cupcakes (too many gadgets!), and I had to ask myself which tools I use most frequently, and if it is something that is used only once or twice a year, well then it had to go. Smaller kitchens while difficult to cook large meals in, do lend themselves to clean up very quickly. Big Red Kitchen took hours to clean, and this little kitchen is almost fuss free.
Tell us about your kitchen?
The floor space of my current kitchen is the same size of Big Red Kitchen's pantry's floor space. Attached to the kitchen is a dining room which hosts large open storage shelving for dishes, pots and pans, crockpot, serving platters and other miscellaneous things. The kitchen is the heart of the home and with five of us cooking at varying times of the day, we have had to keep tight tabs on constantly cleaning as we go. Although small, everyone still wants to be in the kitchen!
What have you done to make your kitchen cosy, functional, beautiful or inspiring?
We have a large Ikea cutting board on the counter which functions as the work area. We also have the all important coffee station which holds our collection of coffee pots from all over. Chemex, Moka pot, turkish coffee pot, Polish pottery tea pot and a classic Brown Betty teapot, along with 2 sizes of French presses. These items are out and in reach at all times. It seems a bit fussy, but we like the lived in look of it.
How do you keep organized while cooking?
I do have to clean as I go or there is no counter space to continue. My spices are organized by region- Indian and South American together, European herbs together, and baking spices together. Certain utensils are kept in a crock by the stove for ease, and I have a big shelf of various glass jars for food storage, my Mason Jar Meals, or drinking glasses. The jars are the main characters in my kitchen since I started making Mason Jar Meals back in 2011.
Any tips & tricks for organising your pantry, fridge and ingredients?
I don't have much storage space, so an ingredient, tool, or food product must be pretty important for it to remain. Group like items together, do not over buy, label shelves to help the rest of the family to keep things in order, and use small bins to herd like items together. Go through your cupboards frequently to use up items that may go out on you soon, check expiration dates and buy spices in small quantities to insure freshness. Keep it real.
Do you do a lot of cooking and what are your favourite dishes to make?
We all cook at our house now that the kids are older. Two cast irons skillets remain on the stove at all times along with the kettle. No use in putting away the most used cook tools. I cook Italian meals often since that is my heritage. My Italian cook tools are the ones that remained through the downsize, such as my pizzelle maker and manual pasta machine.
Where do you turn for new recipe ideas?
Food blogs, friends, but lately I have been trying to go back and learn the basics- Mother sauces, and the such. Eventually all the trends swing back to the basics. It is important to learn how to cook everything, especially vegetables- no more overly boiled veg of my childhood. Roasted vegetables are fantastic. Really keeping things simple and basic is what I am enjoying.
Do you plan out your recipes for the week or do you like to be spontaneous?
Lately I am more spontaneous. Because the kitchen is so small, I shop almost daily picking up what looks good to me at the moment. We have our repertoire of favorites and don't venture too far from those. They're good. Why really change it too much?
If you had three wishes, what would you do to make this your dream kitchen?
I really thought Big Red Kitchen (you can still see photos of it on my site under the About Page) was my dream kitchen, huge, plenty of storage and work space, great for entertaining. But really I love my small kitchen. I no longer want to spend all day cooking and cleaning it. I have simplified my life since moving to Manderley Cottage, that was the point of leaving Northern Virginia for Williamsburg. We wanted more time doing other things that really mattered to us. My cooking has changed. I go with what I know, the classics, food of my heritage, and getting back to the basics. But I would like a nice backsplash! That's only one wish.
Whose kitchen would you love to explore? Send us a message!