I never thought my little kitchen would be worthy of any interest, but since a couple of people have asked about where all my baking happens, it seemed like it would be fun to give y’all a little tour. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, isn’t it? In Thai, the kitchen (hong krua) literally translates to “family room,” which is a sentiment I quite like.
So, welcome to my kitchen!
We have a pretty porch with big formal glass doors that open up to the living room…but nobody actually enters the house that way. In keeping with Thai style, everyone comes in through the side of the house, via the kitchen. Don’t mind our motorbikes. On the left, that’s a bike shelf Toby made. And, of course, we take off our shoes before entering the house. Except we keep the majority of our shoes on a rack in the kitchen because stray dogs in our neighborhood have been known to steal shoes. I lost a perfectly good pair of Rainbows thanks to Dot’s mom. (Admittedly, I did take her baby, so I guess it’s fair.)
And here’s the kitchen itself. The red is a color I would not have chosen myself, but I’m okay with it. The windows did have fancy red curtains to match, but after I took them down one day to have them washed, I discovered how much more natural light we get without them. So I never put them back up.
This is what you’d see from the vantage point of the rest of the house.
You might feel encouraged to pity us for our small fridge…
This is because, for the most part, it’s far cheaper to eat out in Thailand (or pick up food to bring home) — at restaurants, little street side carts, or open air markets — than it is to go shopping and make everything yourself. A lot of times, even if you do prefer to cook yourself, many items can be bought pre-cut or pre-prepared (freshly done that day), so all you have to do is toss it together in the final soup or stir-fry. If we want to, Toby and I can get by on less than $5 or 6 a day spent on food, eating at our favorite places (we’re not scrimping on taste here), whereas a meal cooked at home might run closer to an average of $20-30. So really, the only reason to cook at home is if you want something in particular that isn’t easy to get elsewhere.
Most of the time, if it’s just the two of us, I might cook at home once or twice a week, then we’ll go out for street food 2-3 times a week, spending about $2-3 for a meal, and then the rest of the time, go out to our favorite Burmese, Vietnamese, Mexican, or Thai restaurants, spending about $10-12 per meal at those.
Unless I’m cooking or baking more (as I have been since I got pregnant), the vast majority of our grocery bill goes to coffee, breakfast stuff, and snacks.
Speaking of coffee, this is our coffee making station:
All we need is good beans, a burr grinder to grind the beans, and that little tube thing there is called an Aeropress. I’m generally not a snob or judgmental about most things (at least I like to think so), but I am a total judgmental snob about coffee. I see people talking so much about their fancy Keurigs and k-cups and cannot fathom spending so much money on machinery when the soul of coffee is in the beans. In the States, we got our beans from Verve. We especially enjoyed Central American beans for their citrusy undertones. Here, we buy local, fair-trade Thai hill tribe beans, which are amazingly flavorful for being relatively new to the coffee scene.
And the Aeropress in which we make the coffee ran us about $35. It takes approximately 3 minutes to grind the beans, pour in the hot water over the ground beans, (which we always have at boiling point in a little counter-top hot water doohickey popular here in Asia–so you can always have Ramen at a moment’s notice), stir, then press into our coffee mugs, and add milk (and sugar for T). It takes me less time to do this from start to finish, including serving the coffee and washing the Aeropress afterward, than it takes my dad to just prep and set up his drip machine.
The Aeropress, similar to a French press, is popular with coffee
aficionados snobs like us because the process extracts all the flavor from the beans, but you stop just before extracting the bitterness. We also love it because it’s so small and easy to pack, so when we travel we can ensure we always have good coffee with us.
Anyway, I think part of why I’ve been asked about my kitchen is because ovens aren’t exactly standard features in Asian homes. But I cannot imagine life without baking, so we broke down and bought me this:
The oven won’t fit a big Thanksgiving turkey, but I do use it almost daily to toast sandwiches, roast veggies or lamb chops, or bake tea breads, scones, and quiches.
Especially since I got this shipped out to me:
But, if you’re not careful, also perfect for achieving floor tart. I once spent hours of sweat and toil putting together a treacle tart (in honor of Harry Potter Book 7 coming out, treacle tart being Harry’s favorite), and it came out so pretty and golden….but I forgot the pan’s bottom is designed to pop out, so when I pulled it out of the oven, I grabbed it from the bottom and not from the sides. It pushed the bottom up, the sides dropped down and burned my arms, and I promptly dropped the whole shebang right on the floor. I stood in shock and dismay for several minutes, then called Toby at work, tearfully relaying the whole disaster, and he insisted we could still scrape it up and eat the parts that weren’t actually touching the floor. Hence, floor tart.
I don’t recommend it. I also don’t recommend burning your arms.
Anyway, that’s my kitchen. However, I might be remiss if I didn’t point out that my beloved dish set that was a wedding gift to us is not actually kept in the kitchen. Nope, those babies are on display here in our dining room:
And that concludes our tour for today. Hope you enjoyed it!