Thursday, February 4, 2010

A stranger in a strange kitchen

Well, here I am in paradise! Who knew I would call this place home?

To be honest, I feel more like a stranger in a strange land than I thought I virtue of dialect, culture, and finding it impossible to remember street/place names correctly (is it Lili'uoKUlani Street, or Lili'uoKAlani? Kukui Market, or Kokua Market?). That aside, I have also discovered how cooking in someone else's kitchen can feel a bit like a foreign country as well.

You see, through a stroke of luck and good timing, Tyler and I are living in the apartment of two friends who moved to Mexico. Because of the nature of their move (and ours), they left much of their stuff in the apartment for us to use - everything from furniture to linens to office supplies.

It goes without saying that I'm thrilled to have not just a full kitchen (with four whole burners and an oven!) but a full array of utensils, cookware, and staple ingredients.  While I'm waiting for my crate to float in from San Francisco, I am quite happy to make use of Scott and Nina's water kettle, wooden spoons, silverware, and plates...their dried pasta, condiments, and even powdered green shake mix (integral to my special morning cocktail). And although I'm glad to have use of these things, it has also made me acutely aware of the fact that one person's "must have" items are not necessarily the same as someone else's. Some things in the cabinets I simply have no use for, such as...
  • Perforated plastic jar lids used for sprouting seeds
  • Lots and lots and lots of bagged tea
  • Oat flour, rice flour, nutritional yeast, and pancake mix
  • A half gallon of Grade B maple syrup (hmm, someone did the Master Cleanse!)
But more baffling are the things that, to me at least, are sorely missing:

How can you have a full array of specialty baking ingredients, and yet have no mixer of any sort? No electric mixer, no hand-cranked egg beater, not even a whisk! I wonder what kinds of things they did bake, and how they managed to pull it off without some of the most basic equiment.

And I took my OXO grater for granted until I struggled with the barebones version pictured here. Not only does the tiny grating surface double or triple the work, but it doesn't stand up on its own, and it's difficult to keep it in place while you're grating. So frustrating. I long to grate on my own securely anchored tool and enjoy the efficiency afforded by good design.      

Lastly, an ode to the cast iron skillet...Actually, I look forward to cooking on any non-nonstick surface. But mostly I miss the heft of the cast iron, its ability to hold heat, and the fact that I can use it in the oven. But the fact that it won't give me cancer is a nice bonus.

The good news? I just found out that the crate containing all my earthly belongings has finally landed on this little island. Next Tuesday I'll start unpacking my cooking goods, and that's when it will really start to feel like home.


  1. Very exciting, Dabney! On which island are you living? If my husband had his way, we'd be living in Hawaii, too. So beautiful... I'm sure you'll find a good use for that maple syrup. It's good stuff. Good luck with everything! Hope that you enjoy your new home!

  2. Congratulations on starting your blog Dabney! And grade b maple syrup is the very, very best! Willi uses it in a sauces he makes with sriracha for bacon quinoa cakes, here's the recipe: :)

  3. I'm on Oahu, Sarah. And I didn't mean to discredit the maple syrup - it is indeed good stuff. It's just that there's so much of it!