Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An old kitchen, nice for baking a cake

One of the nicest things about this new place (new to us, as of a few months ago), is that the kitchen is so much nicer to work in than the one I left.

The old one was built either in the 1960s or 1970s, depending upon who is doing the remembering, and it was based on the modern/efficiency/ergonomic model. You know the type. Everything is supposed to be within a few steps of everything else, and built-ins are the height of cool. This might have been fine in theory, and I suppose there are women out there who like that sort of thing, but in my case I'm not thrilled with a narrow alley with appliances either side. And, in this specific case, the built-in idea didn't take into consideration that the building might settle, a serious oversight in an area of town built over what was left behind when a gold dredge chewed its way through the valley. To make a long story short, the building did settle, which slanted the floor, which slanted the oven and the stovetop, and since they were built-in they couldn't be adjusted. Oops. I finally more or less gave up on making cakes. I'm sorry, but pans with much more batter at one side than the other just don't produce good results. (I suppose I might have invented some sort of gadget to prop the pan up, but it hardly seemed worth the trouble.)

The 'new' kitchen is from the 1920s or 1930s, depending upon who is doing the remembering, and it's got room to move around in. I've got a smallish, lighter-weight version of a butcher block table in the middle for an island. I've got what used to be my library hutch along one wall, providing drawers and shelves. It holds a microwave on what used to be a desk top, and my most-used saucepans and casserole dishes on its shelves. The hutch sits across the room from the painted floor-to-ceiling cabinets put in when the house was new. The painted cabinets have a real butcher block countertop. It's obviously been used as a cutting board more than once. (Not by me.)

The lighting can be a bit sparse, with only one ceiling fixture in the middle of the room, turned on and off with a chain pull that dangles from it. Electrical outlets are at a premium, especially three-prong. But those are quibbles. This is a kitchen to cook in, and slow down in, and enjoy, with its old-timey feel and roominess.

This is not to say it's a big kitchen. It's not. But it's definitely not an alleyway with appliances either side. Nicest of all, two people can work comfortably in it at once, and I suspect three or four could manage without a great deal of trouble. (When I was younger, I didn't like to share my kitchen. I'm not sure I remember why. But I've outgrown that.)

There are other advantages, this kitchen over the other. For instance, the oven is larger than the one I left. I don't have to be careful about what size pans I buy, because this will take all the standard sizes. A broiler pan, much liked, bought years and years ago, is finally out of storage and back in use.

And the list goes on.

The subject comes up because I am winding down from a busier than normal day by making a cake. A spice cake. Made with applesauce instead of oil.

Do you know that trick? I read it in some cookbook a while back, that you can usually substitute applesauce for any oil called for in a cake recipe. I didn't believe it at first, but I've had good results, overall. Supposedly it's healthier, but around here we like the taste and texture, too. Usually, it's not the least bit apple-y, by the way. Go figure.

I've reached the point where the cake is out of the oven and cooling. The smell is driving me nuts.

My husband has taken the trouble to inform me that the aroma is making him quite hungry. That, of course, was part of the plan. :)

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