March 22, 2019
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Tiny Homes, Tinier Kitchens
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When it comes to kitchen square footage, less really is more.

Tiny homes have become a fascination of design blogs and curated Instagram feeds, as well as Netflix series glorifying their complete lack of space. But for some home cooks, these close quarters aren’t about having a cartoonishly small vacation home or a weekend away at a cozy Airbnb. They’re just a fact of everyday life.

In The Tiny Mess, the tiny kitchens of converted school buses and former water towers are celebrated. Inevitably, they’ve had to adapt a bit, focusing on shortcuts, but never the shortcomings. “No one seemed to miss many of the niceties an abundance of space allows,” says the book’s photographer Trevor Gordon. “I think if anything, its slightly more worry free, less to clean and more time spent actually cooking and planning out your meal.”  In the book, together with Maddie Gordon and Mary Gonzalez, the trio takes a peek inside of their homes to get a better idea of what each person keeps close at hand. Bare necessities are a given, but everyday needs have a personality too. They take the form of ebelskiver pans, marble pastry boards, and meat grinders rejiggered for coffee beans. As Trevor puts it, “I think you can cook most anything anywhere with a little patience and planning.” Here’s a look at how three petite kitchens work on a daily basis.

Previously a water tower, Tyson transformed what he calls “The Barrel” into a home in Big Sur, California. Most of the space is inhabited by his greenhouse, where he grows vegetables (which he even lived off of for a year.)  His kitchen shelves are stuffed to the brim with cooking oils, spices, and of course, plants, but it’s not all about function and efficiency. Even in the confines of his cramped four-burner stove, Tyson reserves a spot for an ebelskiver pan—notably less useful than a traditional cast-iron skillet, but every bit as necessary to him. Breakfast calls for his mother’s old ebelskiver recipe, with each fluffy sphere of batter cooked in its designated slot.

When Lindsey and Zach bought their house on wheels, it was already move-in ready, with much of the interior converted into a living space by a woodworker. They parked their turquoise bus and decided to stay put on Lopez Island in northern Washington. The kitchen nearly takes up the entirety of the 30 foot-long bus, but for a baker (Lindsey) and fisherman (Zach), this seemed just about right. A cast-iron skillet and a sharp knife are vital, versatile tools, but beyond that, Lindsey and Zach consider their pasta maker and countertop meat grinder (which they use for coffee beans) prized possessions as well. After rolling out the dough on occasional pasta nights, the fresh noodles are strewn like string lights over furniture and wherever there’s spare hanging space. Surely, there are obstacles, but it’s not totally impossible. Trevor recalls, “It was just bustling with color and smell and was settled in a little forest near the ocean. A big pot of soup was quietly bubbling on the stove while the two chopped a mountain of veggies and rolled fresh pasta out on the countertop towards the front of the bus. It was just an idyllic setting and summed up everything we wanted to capture for this book.”

Marie and Dean’s two-story home in Skamania County, Washington is far from a conventional loft. The first level, a yellow school bus, houses their kitchen and wood-burning stove, while the upper level, a Volkswagen Vanagon they bolted on top, is where they sleep. With custom-built cabinets, ingenious storage systems under the floors, expansive countertops, and both a pull-out breadboard and marble pastry board. Marie and Dean have truly utilized every inch of space. For Marie, her trusty kitchen essentials include a single measuring cup with all increments labeled, a compost bin within reach, a few sharp knives, and a collection of well-labeled spices.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh blueberries, for serving
  • Whole-milk Greek yogurt, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving

When we showed up to Tyson’s place, we had no idea what an ebelskiver was. Turns out that he makes these little Danish breakfast treats using an old recipe his mother passed down to him. These are beyond tasty. In short, ebelskivers are small balls of light and fluffy pancake batter cooked in a special kind of cast-iron pan, and they require meticulous rotation to get their signature shape. Chances are you don’t own one of these specialty pans, so we’ve also tested this in a regular skillet. We baked it like a Dutch baby and topped it with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. It’s not quite a traditional Dutch baby, but it is light and fluffy and really hits the spot.

  1. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk, maple syrup, honey, butter, milk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You should have a batter reminiscent of thick pancake batter. Add more flour if needed. Fold in the whipped egg whites until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  3. If you are using an ebelskiver pan: Lightly grease the pan and heat it over medium heat. Pour batter into each section, leaving ¼ inch of room. Add some fruit and a blob of yogurt so the batter reaches just under the edge of the pan. When the batter bubbles and browns at the edges, flip one ebelskiver half on top of another half to make one fantastic round ebelskiver! Rotate the little pancakes to cook the seam edge.
  4. If you are using a cast-iron skillet: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a large, well-greased cast-iron skillet in the oven for 10 minutes. Pour the batter into the heated skillet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until it turns a light golden color.
  5. Serve the ebelskivers or Dutch baby with fruit, yogurt, and maple syrup if you please.
Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
  • Olive oil

The making of this book dispelled the myth that you need a full-size kitchen to make homemade pasta. Not only
did Lindsey pull it off in her bus home, but Tommaso and Eva also made fresh pasta on their sailboat! When we showed up to Lindsey and Zach’s, they had pasta laid out over chairs and along their entire countertop (which runs the whole length of the bus). If you don’t have a pasta maker, don’t fret, you can do this by hand. In fact, we tested this recipe by hand and it turned out great—you just have to put in a bit more elbow grease. Fresh pasta is much more delicate than dried and is truly worth the extra effort required.

  1. On the countertop or in a large bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, and salt and knead for 5 minutes.
  2. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Work with one piece out at a time and leave the rest wrapped so the dough doesn’t dry out.
  3. If rolling the dough through a pasta machine, set the rollers at their widest setting, flatten the dough with lightly floured hands into a rough rectangle, and feed it through the rollers.
  4. Fold the dough into thirds, then feed it through the rollers again. Repeat the folding and rolling five times, using flour as needed if the dough becomes sticky.
  5. Turn the roller one notch thinner, only this time you’ll be folding the dough in half, not thirds. Remember to keep dusting with flour and repeat this step twice if needed.
  6. Turn the roller one notch thinner and feed the dough through without folding. Continue making the pasta thinner by changing the settings on your machine as necessary. The dough is thin enough when you can see the color of your hand through it. You may find that the dough is thin enough before you reach the last setting on the machine.
  7. Place the sheet of pasta on a floured surface to prevent sticking and start on the next piece of dough, repeating the steps above. When all the dough has been rolled out, cut each sheet crosswise into 6- to 8-inch sections and let dry for 10 minutes.
  8. Feed the pasta sheets through fettuccine cutters, turning the handle slowly and steadily, guiding the delicate pasta strands with your other hand. Lay the noodles on a floured surface and continue with the rest of the batch.
  9. Bring a pot of water to boil, add some salt and oil, and cook half the pasta for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pasta gently and transfer to a colander to drain. Let the water come back up to a full boil, then repeat to cook the remaining pasta. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 nopal paddle
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ¼ jalapeño, finely chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pinch of sea salt

If you like okra, then nopales are for you. They’re simply the roundish and lumpy paddles of the prickly pear cactus. If you live in an area where these are growing wild, foraging is a great way to acquire them. Remember to use gloves when harvesting, as those spines hurt and they will get everywhere fast. If you can’t harvest them yourself, check your local Hispanic market. In a pinch, you could substitute Persian cucumbers, green beans, or even green bell peppers for the nopales.

  1. Take a large knife and slice off the spines of the nopal under cool running water. Slice the nopal into French fry–size pieces. In a large bowl, toss together the nopal, radish, cilantro, and jalapeño. Add the lime juice and season with the salt. Serve the salad as an appetizer, or as an accompaniment for tacos.

Tatiana Bautista

Tatiana Bautista is an assistant editor at TASTE.

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