Tiny kitchen, big problems

Tired of never having the right tools to make that perfect meal? Well, settle for microwave dinners no longer! Here are seven tricks and cheats to make your culinary life easier.

Woman in tiny kitchen

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been halfway through a recipe, covered head to toe in flour, counters in a state of disgrace and all of a sudden, I need a double boiler. A crock pot. Seafood scissors. Some fancy-shmancy cooking equipment that costs an arm and a leg. Or I need six extra feet of counter space to roll something out, or dust it in flour.

It’s too late to go back now — I’ve already diced the onions! So how can you cook without these high-tech, high-price accoutrements and endless miles of kitchen space? Easy. A little out of the box thinking and no recipe will be out of your grasp. There are ways to make delicious and nutritious food in a kitchen more than a little starved for space and specialty tools, and best of all, they’re quick and easy. Say goodbye to frozen pizza and boxed mac and cheese and hello to one-pan roast potatoes and chicken and soup that’s (almost) from scratch.

Do not judge by the size of the kitchen, but by the contents of its pantry.

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Compounding your cooking equipment will save you a lot of time on clean up. Cook the chicken in with the sauce and use the fat from the bacon to fry your eggs.

Don’t have a skillet? Hungry for grilled cheese? Turn that frown, and your toaster upside down. Lay your toaster flat on its side and use it like a grill.

Don’t toss your takeout. Take the cold rice or noodles, add a drizzle of soy sauce and a handful of the frozen stir-fry veggies we all have lurking at the back of the freezer and you have a whole new meal.

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I love baking. But I do not have a drawer in my kitchen big enough to keep a rolling pin in. I do have plenty of wine bottles though. If you wrap one of those in cling wrap, it works like a charm. To prevent the bottle from warming up too quickly and getting sticky, leave it in the fridge until you need it.

Double boiler? Bah. I most often find that baking recipes call for that to melt chocolate or to make cream-based sauces. You can just pop chocolate in the microwave, but if you leave it in too long, it can burn. Instead, fill a pot with water, and use a heat-proof bowl that fits snugly into the pot, without touching the bottom. A metal bowl or a Pyrex one will work fine. It does have to be heat safe — please don’t melt any of your kitchen utensils together.

To make quick steamed veggies, you don’t need a steamer. They’re expensive, and they only really do one thing. Put your veggies in a microwave safe container with a little water at the bottom and stick it in the microwave for a few minutes. If you have a metal strainer that’s heat safe, put your veggies in the strainer and put it on top of a pot of boiling water.

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If you’re roasting chicken in the oven (which everyone should do at least once, it’s delicious) you don’t need a roasting rack. Put your veggies on the bottom of a pan and stick the chicken on top. This one does double duty: It will roast the chicken nicely, leaving enough room for the air to move around, and roast your vegetables.

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