Sunday, July 1, 2007

Welcome to My Kitchen!


You and I are entering at roughly the same time, as my husband and I just moved into our new digs -- all 700 square feet of 'em -- yesterday. This galley kitchen boasts adorable white cabinets, butcher block counters, no disposal, no dishwasher, and a 40-year-old 18 inch Hardwick/Robertshaw apartment range. Lucky me, right?

Fortunately, this dinosaur comes with low miles, as it appears that I am one of five people in all of Boston who ever cooks or bakes at home.

Getting started in any new-to-self rented kitchen can be hairy. The appliances never fit on the counter exactly as you imagined, the pots and pans suddenly forget how to nest, and immediately after signing the lease at least one funky quirk pops up -- ours being the fact that despite the appearance of under-sink storage, you can't open that (would-be huge, relatively speaking) cabinet.

Once you've got your shelves and drawers wiped and stocked, you've only come 1/3 of the way. The biggest question remains: What is the story with the stove? How does it perform? Any gremlins in there? Rarely does the landlord know, and few of us get the chance to talk with the previous tenant (in my case, he didn't bake anyhow). I've found that the best way to learn a new stove is to bake something familiar, both low-cost and low-effort, that will accurately display the heating pattern (does the back get hotter? the left side?), and temperature tendency. What better thing to bake then chocolate chip cookies?

Baking on a cookie sheet, particularly one that fills the majority of the oven, will show you where hot spots form, and choosing a relatively fast recipe prevents you from getting tired of monitoring the oven. At 9-11 minutes per round, I didn't feel compelled to run around the apartment settling other issues, and instead worked on becoming more familiar with where my stuff ended up. Also, baking a half batch does double duty as damage control (particularly if the oven doesn't heat at all) and portion control.

Besides, what else so easily makes a new apartment smell like home, than the fragrance of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies?

Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Apartment-style
Preheat oven to 375

1 stick butter (flatter cookies) or margarine (poofier cookies), softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/8 c. flour
1/2 bag (about 1 cup) of your favorite chips

Using a fork, in a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg. Add soda and salt, and mix thoroughly. Gradually add in flour, scraping sides until fully incorporated. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes, monitoring for doneness. Edges should be golden, but due to the high brown sugar content, these guys are a little more honey-colored than the usual anyway.
Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on wire racks. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!!

I was pleased to find that this little oven really does the job, only heating the back slightly more...but it shouldn't be a problem...

11 comments:

Marcie said...

Nothing could be worse than that tiny little range we had at 363 Meyran. The oven didn't really work and we had not one, but what, two red tags on that old thing? yeah...I remember those days. Sympathy to you.

S said...

I didn't get any chocolate chip cookies in the previous apt. Too bad I can't fly back up there and help with your quality control on the new oven. (-;

Ren said...

Ah, but you did! Recall the lunch I packed you when we went to the beach...

Ruthie said...

Fun blog! I'll have to add a link to your blog via ours. Love, Ruthie

Aaron said...

C is for cookie...and Cois...

Lena said...

Hey girl!! I've finally graduated to a full-size kitchen...but I vividly remember smaller spaces. Our first house was 782 sq ft...but I loved it!! Learned lots of new recipes in it too. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Jen said...

Hey Ren - nice blog! Your kitchen is SO much bigger than mine is. I can't wait until we redo it... Here's to small kitchens! (and small living spaces)

Lisa said...

The white color of the cabinets really makes the kitchen seem very spacious. It looks lovely. I hope I get to visit sometime soon and enjoy your baking again. ^_^

michigander said...

Love the kitchen, especially the white cabinets! It's our first "view" of your new place and it looks adorable. Is that a cathedral ceiling we see? Our first apartment kitchen was basically a hallway with appliances on one side and a counter with a sink on the other. Yours looks nice and open. Congratulations!

Laura said...

What a great blog! I will be keeping watch here for more great ideas.

We live in a decently large house, but since it's an "antique," the house is apt size. There are few fancy applicances here, although I do have a garbage disposal and a dishwasher. That means I should have everything I need to make whatever can be done in your kitchen.....oh yeah, except decent seafood.

Laura said...

That should read "the KITCHEN is apt size." Someday I will learn how to type.