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Addiction

Jul
8
2008

Some folks have a prediliction to addiction and others don’t. Those of us who are somewhat obsessive/compulsive have a particular problem with addiction, let this be a warning to you cooks about letting the genie of kitchen gadgets out of the bottle.

I’ve moved seven times in the past ten years chasing jobs – four times across the width of the country. And with each move I reduced the amount of stuff I moved. Early in the process I got rid of easy stuff, sheets and towels I hadn’t used in years, a futon that was simply taking up space, 20-year-old collections of bills and tax records. And a few cheap pots in the back of my kitchen cabinets.

On subsequent moves I dug deeper, disposing of my entire collection of science fiction and eventually almost all my fiction, pieces of furniture I’d rather replace than move, old computer parts, and kitchen equipment I used only once or twice a year. On my last cross-country move I even disposed of most my technical (programming) library, but by that time there was nothing else to get rid of. I was down to the bare essentials needed to recreate my home in a new abode and my kitchen was down to the bare essentials needed to comfortably and efficiently cook the way I cook.

Upon arriving here in Knoxville, I moved into an apartment and followed my usual move-in pattern: 1) Make the bed, 2) Set up the stereo, 3) Unpack the kitchen. Unpacking the kitchen is a three-day job both because I have loads of stuff and because it must be stored in the sanest, most-cooking-efficient way possible in that particular kitchen. This involves a lot of thinking about possible traffic patterns (yeah, it’s just me, but I can get in my own way), convenience to work areas, and considering equipment-use patterns.

I was fortunate in my apartment choice in that it had an area under the stairs, right next to the kitchen, suitable for use as a pantry. Then I moved into this condo apartment and gave up another 30 square feet of kitchen space.

Over a two-year period I went from a 150 square foot kitchen in California to the 70 square foot kitchen I have now. My dining area is larger than my kitchen, which is a good thing because I had room in the dining area to install a large low-boy to store overflow equipment and things like tablecloths. Still not enough.

While I was moving so much I managed to find the discipline to avoid buying much new kitchen stuff – or to at least to primarily buy better versions of what I had and get rid of the old ones. So a cheap stock pot that tended to burn on the bottom was replaced with a better one and my haphazard collection of flour containers were replaced with better (and more space-efficient) plastic tubs.

Then I became a personal chef. This meant I needed a portable “kitchen” I could take to client homes and the genie escaped the bottle. I essentially needed two of everything – two sets of mixing bowls, two sets of knives, two sets of pots and pans…

You get the idea.

Fortunately these duplicates went into three large utility tubs that I kept in my car so they don’t directly contribute to my kitchen space problems. But as I said, the kitchen djenn had been freed and has shown little sign of returning to its bottle.

Three days ago I bought a second grill pan. Why? It’s smaller than the cast iron Lodge grill I’ve had for years and so more efficient when cooking in terms of heating and cleaning for one. But the truth is it was on sale and I wanted it.

I also recently bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I’m not particularly an ice cream fan but it was only $20 – and I can use it to make desserts for clients. In between I ran across a silicon spatula with a steel core that I thought would work better than the pure silicon spatula I’ve been using. Then there are the products I’m occasionally sent to review. The cheap ones (under $25) I keep if useful or throw away. The expensive ones I return to the manufacturer – unless I love it so much I have to buy it.

I don’t anticipate moving again anytime soon, but before the summer is out I’m going to have to dig into that guest bedroom closet and find stuff I can throw away to make room for the genie’s stuff. Addiction is a terrible thing.

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