In the belly of The Whale: My Kitchen

My dad, a fantastic chef, has asked me many times in the last few months (with some worry) “How have you been feeding yourself?”  What kind of food can I manage to eek out in our woefully tiny home? To ease his mind (and perhaps the fears of other food-lovers contemplating life on the road), I’ll show & tell you that we eat rather well – probably too well/much, given our expanding waistlines.

Grilled lamb with potatoes, asparagus, and warm spinach salad with sautéed mushrooms

But how can that be? In our 25-foot home, there’s a 4.5 foot galley kitchen that seems terribly teeny tiny compared to the wonders of an American kitchen, complete with dishwashers, double sinks, and Kitchen Aid mixers.  However, when you’ve spent the last decade living in China and Hong Kong, those 4.5 feet of kitchen seem quite workable, and the fact that the appliances actually work makes cooking here quite heavenly.

4.5 feet of kitchen

In China, I never had more than 2 burners, and most of the time had to make do with the 1 that worked, whipping out a separate electric hotplate for big dinners that needed more fire power. Here, I have 3 – so decadent, I feel spoiled.   People complain about the tiny Airstream ovens, saying it’s too small to use as anything but storage.  Are they kidding? This little gas oven is at least twice the size of the handy $20 toaster oven I relied on for 8 years of roasting chickens and fancy fruit galettes, making messes of bagels and other cooking mayhems.

Pizzas and ocean views

I feel sorry for those naysayers, for they are missing out on homemade pizzas, hasselback sweet potatoes, and taking advantage of the many Duncan Hines $1 cake mix specials we’ve stocked up at Walmart.

Hasselback sweet potatoes with maple syrup and pecan, roasted cauliflower and sausages

Oh, and that is the difference between my tiny kitchens in China, and my tiny home now.  In this tiny home, it’s not just a tiny kitchen, but a tiny pantry I need to deal with, so making cakes and breads from scratch is no longer a form of relaxation I can indulge in.   There is juusstttt enough space for me to pile in our necessities, and alas, that does not include food processors or immersion blenders, nor jars of different flours and sugars and baking supplies.  But that’s  small, small price to pay for making pizzas while overlooking the waters of Key West, or simmering a warming chicken soup to enjoy on a desert night among the Joshua Trees.

Shelving, stuffed almost full, but with room left to spare should we need it
Collapsible bucket and miniature trash cans, tupperware and garbage bags, soaps and detergent, all squished in. It’s amazing what you can stuff in any space once it’s all the space you’ve got.

So thanks, my little Beijing and HK kitchens, for teaching me less is more, and how to accomplish the kitchen acrobatics of cooking 3-course meals on two burners with 3 pans and 4 inches of counter space. Also, who needs a Maytag dishwasher when you have a Seth dishwasher?

Chicken soup



4 Replies to “In the belly of The Whale: My Kitchen”

  1. I love it, Seth! Would love to do it, in fact. When we came back from Thailand, we moved into a very small, but comfortable home. Then, to an even smaller apartment. After all that minimalism, wee’re now in a larger home but with a lot less stuff. It feels good. How about you? Do you have an idea of settling somewhere? Right now, here in Lincoln, I enjoy teaching an adult English class to spouses of international guest lecturers, researchers,
    instructors. Nice peaceful city, too–no one getting shot on a daily basis as in Milwaukee and St Louis.

  2. My HK place was 220 sq ft, but the kitchen totally worked. My big American countertop has a supernatural ability to attract clutter, and I think back fondly of my little HK houseboat in the sky. It looks like you guys are 100% enjoying both the freedom and the discipline of living on the road!

    1. Haha, HK is a great training ground for tiny living 🙂 We’re having the time of our lives, and can’t believe the year is drawing to a close!

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