Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It took a while for me to decide what I was going to write about here. I am a funny person, but I just don’t translate to being funny in print. Some people just don’t, and I am ok with that. What about change? Well, a lot has changed in my life in the past year. I just don’t think it’s all that interesting to right about. However after perusing through several blogs I subscribe to, I felt that I could start one about baking.

“Oh no, not another baking blog,” you say. Sure, why not? I have acquired a new insight into cooking and baking, since abandoning the ‘normal’ world and relocating to one of the most remote places in the United States. My new situation has forced me to evolve from the comfortable existence I was accustom to ‘down south.’

While I have no pictures of my kitchen down south, it was well equipped, had plenty of counter space, gadgets and utensils galore, and tons of storage. Even if I did have pictures, I probably wouldn’t post them because I’d hate to perpetuate the fact that the 1970’s wasn’t a good era for color design or fashion (yes, I had the yellow/brown laminate tile, dark brown wall tile, and dark cabinets with wrought iron hinges that should have been left for fence makers).

When I accepted the offer of employment, I was told that I could move 1000 pounds of stuff to Alaska for free. Because I knew we didn’t need furniture, it did give me some leeway on what we could bring. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had collected in my kitchen. I cooked every day and baked several times a week, so I had the volume of equipment to show for it. Further, I would be moving from a two bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment with an EXTREMELY small kitchen. Sorting through everything came down to necessity:

Stand mixer – check
Pots and Pans – check
Coffee Maker – check check
Chef’s knife – check
Cutting board – check
Food processor – check
Manual can opener – check
Colander and one small strainer – check
Bread/cake/roasting pans – check (one 9x5 bread, 14x17 roasting, 8x3 round cake, 9x9 cake, two baking sheets and two cupcake pans)
Microwave - check
Measuring spoons - check
Dishes and silverware for 4 – check

Everything else stayed behind – my exhaustive selection of mixing bowls, my plethora of cake decorating supplies, variably sized baking pans, specialty cooking appliances (sandwich maker, crockpots, dehydrators, deep fryers, steamers, miscellaneous colanders, sieves, cooking utensils, etc). I figured I wouldn’t be cooking too much (as all my meals are provided for me) and since I still had to consider other things in the rest of the house to move (along with stuff my husband may want in Alaska), I decided took only those things I would figure would I would need.

Here’s a picture of my kitchen now:

My counter space was cut by 80% and my storage by nearly 60%. I have found that I cook more than expected (more for therapy than sustenance) so I have made one major purchase since arriving in AK: a pizza stone. Needless to say, I have a list of things I would like to order, but I made a promise to my husband not to acquire more than we can effectively store.

So there it is, I figure I could offer my experiences here for first time bakers, those with limited budgets for equipment, and those with limited space for gadgets. Do I miss having anything I wanted/needed for cooking backing just 20 minutes outside my door, a gas range, and an oversized refrigerator? From time to time, yes, however, I’d have to give up having some of the most breathtaking views that are only 5 minutes from my door!

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