THE SMALL KITCHEN SYNDROME


THE PROBLEM
THE SOLUTION

This section is all about the tools of the trade. And a few things that we use a lot in the trade or even in the home.  Where can you put it all?  I had to design and build a mini-pro NSF kitchen in my condominium. Condominiums have little space to waste, I travel a lot and lawns and maintenance is beyond me after doing it for years. 

Condos have small kitchens and  I need to make use of every inch since I delve in many different types of cooking.   I had to think more vertical than horizontal because countertops get loaded up and unusable real quick. There is also the problem of no gas, all electric. Had to work that problem out.

A Condo-minimum in a high rise, and mine is on the top fifth floor, is the developers slang for an apartment you pay too much for and he gets rich and minimum is a better description of size.  My kitchen is actually 8.5x14 according to the plans, before adding a refrigerator, stove, pantry, 24" counters and so forth.  That leaves me with 7 x 12 usable. I had to think out of the box and add duality, something that can do two jobs.  I went vertical on things.

I added two rolling tables with shelving for the pots, pans and tools, and a medium prep table I found at SAM’s to which I added a granite top I found. No room for a small eat-in table so I use the granite top.  Anyway, being used to larger restaurant kitchens, I faced the foreboding future of no room. I had to Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. Go Clint Eastwood and the US Marines!

FIRST PROBLEM
ELECTRIC COOKING

A Sears four electric burner stove didn’t appeal to me, I always had natural gas and no chance of gas since this is a very solid bunker concrete condo fireproof with computers linked to the fire department and maintained by stringent rules.  On the other hand based on my knowledge of some of my neighbors, some bordering “ Legally idiotic”  if this place had gas, the building would be gone by now.  

We cannot have any kind of cooking (gas, propane or electric) on our terrace since they will trip the alarm system. Nothing, Nada, no exceptions to the rules for any reason.  They can fine you because tripping the alarm   brings the fire department and a false alarm is 100.00 the first time.

I’m in hurricane country and live on the top floor (5) and I do keep a Sterno two burner propane camp stop in the closet for the eventual real emergency.   Being high up on a golf course, and basically on an island surrounded by water means the problem is access rather than survival.  My condo has bulletproof double windows.  If we go out for several days, I can still eat and boil water. I have a canoe in the garage.

SOLUTION FOR BETTER COOKING:  Four electric burners if you have mini pots sometimes don’t cut it.   And my solution was...  “drum roll” a pair of real Burton 1800 watt Induction burners  (Amazon - The real burners) and magnetic steel sauciers and pans (All-Clad and Tramontina). Plus a large Cuisinart electric skillet. (ƒ- Williams and Sonoma) medium size Rice Cooker, Electric WOK, and a Steel wok, with the Burton I can do outdoors.  I can multi-task now.  For no electricity I have the Sterno setup.


SECOND PROBLEM
STORAGE 

For the pots and pans, Herbs and Spices, tools, etc.  A Rolling Rack NSF also found at SAM’s made this part simple.  NSF carts made of chrome shelving and modified to what I needed. All on rollers so that I can slide them out of the kitchen for steam mop cleanliness.  For smaller herbs and spices, I mounted a small three shelf wall rack to the side under the handle. 

The other side is used to hang strainers and colanders.   Everything I need is outside on top and accessible with one hand.  I cook relatively fast and alone so this might appear to be a bit anal to some, but it’s my style and I hate having to look for things or dig things out of a drawer or closets. I keep dry foods in closets not tools.


BIGGER IS BETTER
The second or taller cart is two of these carts melded together. I had an extra I bought for someone who never picked it up and worse didn't pay for it.  I dumped her, took the wheels off the cart and off to the hardware store.

The internal measurements for the tubes were 1 1/16" exactly. I found some conduit that was 1" exactly and bought two feet of it and cut it down to four six inch sections.

A quick gradient with a file to the edges on the small tubes to  make them go in easier, and hammered them gently into the top section, bottom end. I installed two pop rivets through both the tube and the splice part so it would not move.

I placed the top unit on the bottom and using my rubber hub cap hammer motivated it to drop it in place with a touch of silicon spray and installed two rivets on the bottom.  You can't even see the seam. VOILA!

I now had a four shelf double cart that can roll in and out for cleaning hosting a second microwave, storage and plenty of hanging space. The magnetic knife holder I had to remove from the cutting table when the granite arrived is installed where the two bottles of wine are I use a lot Creme Sherry and the Marsala.  For Sushi and Sashimi I just load those knives on the magnet, the rest of the time it holds tongs, bar stuff, bottle openers etc.  Magnets are cool and versatile in a kitchen.

These two units fill up the corner nicely and give me free work space in the kitchen. I gave up using the kitchen in conjunction with eating other than just the two of us or snacks, as it’s laid out really bad for consumption of real guests or larger meals.

The taller unit also holds an assortment of graters and tools, food processors and blenders, a 2nd Microwave and the Sushi and Sashimi knives out of their case I travel with when needed, magnets are great... I know I said it before.

I used spacers and 1/4 inch fender washers to bolt thru to the back of the grid on the rack. Nifty and safer on the higher vertical storage shelves out of reach of a 18 month old inquisitor visitor who likes shiny things and doors at her height.  When little ones are here the knives are put away.  I own over forty custom and higher end knives and they are beyond sharp.


SOLUTION
BARSTOOLS

Thus the next step is to get two bar stool adjustable height chairs for the table when it is not prepping for two. Bed Bath and Beyond had perfect barstools, highth adjustable. Cushions that match the granite, will be perfect as I can use them at the table or at the pass thru to the dinning room.  Makes Sushi and fast stuff easy to handle, just turn around and you are there. Great for teaching and the making of short YouTubes.

THIRD PROBLEM
WORK ROOM
The third most common problem Condos present is surface or counter top area and this part of the deal will cost a few dollars. The other surfaces, countertops are all Corian so thats OK,  but I wanted something I can "dough on".  I took this table, courtesy of Sam's Club, an NSF prep table, and found a vendor with small ends of Granite remnants. 

I wanted dark granite so dough shows. Much of that stuff goes for about thirty-five dollars a square foot. And then there is delivery and installation.  I managed to get a piece fifty-four inches by twenty-five inches wide. 

Add polished, rounded edges and corners, delivered for under two hundred dollars. It will cover the top completely and installation is easy with plenty of silicon caulk. Took ten minutes, let it dry for two days and it isn't going anywhere. 

In the photo on the shelf is one of the 1800 watt induction plates and my larger 14.5-inch WOK and the beauty of the Burton burner is that it provides ample heat for the bigger WOK. 

Don’t try this with those two for 99.00 dollar “But Wait” Chinese lookalikes as shown on TV. There is a world of difference in these heaters.   It also stores my Rice Cooker and Crock Pot  when not needed.

Every inch gets used but used well, thats the mantra. The wok can go on the induction burner since it is steel and the burner reaches to 400 plus degree easily.  It is lightning on this Burton. The other half can then hold the Cuisinart 15 inch electric skillet and thats double what the stove can do.  I still have four burners for smaller jobs.


MORE STUFF
More stuff to store and I have a lot of knives. Good ones so the knife blocks handle that. I call them "East meets West”.  It’s Wustof vs. Shun, Ken Onion and Bob Kramer. Yes I have and own a Kramer. No you can’t borrow it!

They stay on the back counter away from helping hands.  Meanwhile the magnet gets the travel stuff, a lender group or, a helper knife (white) and a Nakiri, a Santoku, a Sashimi and a thirty year old light cleaver (more a Chinese Chef Knife) from Chicago Cutlery thats been in my bag for four decades.   And then I needed something for travel to keep this in.  I found it at Sears.



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