My little corner.

by Tokyo Terrace on August 31, 2009

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Everyone has a place in their home or apartment that feels like their own. A place where, no matter what the day has dealt them, brings peace, happiness and serenity. Perhaps it is a chair in the living room that is perfect for curling up under a blanket with a glass of wine and a book. Or maybe a sunny porch where coffee and the sunrise bring their warmth. Whatever or wherever you find these feelings, I would love for you to share them with me in your comments to this post.

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My favorite place to be in our apartment is my little corner kitchen. Small, a little cramped, and sometimes messy, this is my little spot. The table right next to the window, where I drink my coffee in the morning, is where I browse through my cookbooks and do most of my food writing. I can look out at the Tama River while soaking in the bright sunshine and writing about the creations that come from my kitchen or from our experiences in Tokyo.

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When I say that my kitchen is a little cramped, I’m not kidding. It isn’t so much that I don’t have room to move around, it’s just that everything is very small. And difficult to organize. Still, I do the best I can.

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My two-burner stove top is small but powerful. Being used to four burners, I have had to become more creative with “one-pot meals” and developing other ways to keep from over-crowding. My fish oven (a teeny tiny broiler type thing found just under the burners) has been an adventure as well. Figuring out the Japanese controls has been a challenge too! Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law, I now own a toaster oven that fits perfectly on top of our mini refrigerator. I can bake stuff now! More to come on that in another post.

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My cookbooks sit neatly on a kitchenette that Brad found at a recycle shop. These things sell for around 30,000 to 50,000 yen brand new ($300-$500 U.S.) but this one only cost us 4,000 yen ($40)! I was skeptical at first, as it was totally covered in dirt and dust. But once it was all cleaned up, it looked like it had never been used. This kitchenette doubles as storage for our dishes and our “bar” area. Talk about multipurpose!

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With all the frustrating, small and unusual quirks, my kitchen is still my favorite place to be. My chalkboard, an inspiration from my friend Jenn, displays our dinner menu. The pictures above the stove are reminders of home in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Overall, this is my sanctuary. No matter what has blemished my mood for the day, there is consistently something wonderful that happens in this little corner of the apartment.

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  • http://fromlaptoptostovetop.blogspot.com Melissa

    Wow. Now that is some kitchen. I almost want to feel bad for you…a food/cooking person with a small kitchen. Only two burners! Then I look at my kitchen, which is really good sized but my stove has only two burners and then the other half is a grill thing which I don’t use very often. So far in all my gourmet adventures, I’ve figured a way around zillions of recipes and only once was a stuck with only 2 burners…that was during canning. I’m cooking my way through Le Cordon Bleu at Home, a Marcella Hazan Italian cooking book and loads of other recipes, books, magazines and blogs. Give me a hollar if need ideas on the two burner stove. :) Although from the looks of your blog, you’re doing fine.

    What are you doing in Tokyo? I’m in Michigan.

  • http://thesophisticatedgourmet.blogspot.com Kamran Siddiqi

    Rachael, you have a great kitchen! It’s very well lit and well kept! I was waiting for a little tour. I have yet to post a tour of my new place, but I am working on it… Also, yay! Finally you can now bake stuff. Thanks Rachael’s mother-in-law!!

  • http://www.minnesotaimage.com Jenn

    Rachael, I like your post. Reading it, it makes me think about my favorite place to me in my home. Well, actually, my favorite place is not INSIDE my home but in the back yard. I love sitting on the patio, under the pergola Tim and his friends built, with a glass of wine. It is so peaceful back there. I just like to let my mind wonder. I just wish I had more time to enjoy my favorite spot.

  • http://www.southerngracegourmet.com Angelia McGowan

    Wow you are doing great with what you have. Your kitchen looks so cute and it looks very bright too! Mine is a good size, but I don’t have natural light:( I am definitely not organized enough to handle a smaller kitchen.

  • http://wasabiprime.blogspot.com/2009/08/happy-hour-haunt-to-naga-with-love.html Wasabi Prime

    Adorable space — I love your kokeshi doll by the tea set! I’m sure it can be a challenge, but in a way, the space itself is a cultural experience, since Japanese food is an adventure in minimalism. I remember a lot of simple meals made by my grandparents, and the main heat elements were the rice cooker, a hot pot of tea, and everything else was served cold, like the pickled vegetables. Nothing fancy, but it was always a simple and honest meal that when I make it now, it brings me back to my own personal comfort space, much like yours in your lovely kitchen.

  • tokyoterrace

    Melissa:

    I’m glad to hear there is someone else out there who is using a two burner stove top! It can be a challenge, but it encourages me to use creative thinking in my cooking. Not only do I cut down on electricity and gas, I also cut down on dishes that need to be washed. I hate washing dishes, so this is a good thing for me. Still, I will be happy when I am able to buy a stove that is a little more convenient. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! Good luck going through those fabulous cookbooks! You’ll learn a lot of great info, I’m sure!

  • tokyoterrace

    Kamran:
    Thanks! I have been writing and rewriting this post for months now. I finally felt good about these photos and felt inspired to write about this space. It’s difficult to feel like you truly convey the special parts of a space you are so in love with.

  • tokyoterrace

    Jenn:

    Thanks for the comment Jenn! I’m glad you shared your favorite spot. It’s true- your backyard is a very peaceful place to be. I often day dream about sitting back there with you enjoying a glass of wine. There is never enough time to enjoy our favorite places, is there?

  • tokyoterrace

    Angelia:

    Thank you for the comment! It has taken me some time to get used to the small space, but I am beginning to feel very comfortable. Sometimes it can get cramped when there are a lot of dirty dishes. But, it helps that I have a dishwasher…my husband :)

  • tokyoterrace

    Wasabi Prime:

    I loved reading about your grandparents cooking. What a beautiful memory to have. There is always something about simple, comforting food that stays with you no matter where you are. And you are right- the kitchen itself is definitely a cultural experience!

  • Aunt J in Hendersonville

    Loved this post, loved that it made me stop and think about favorite places to relax.
    My first – and all time favorite – place to find serenity is on Mom’s front porch – in the morning, just Mom and me, strong, hot coffee in hand, listening to the birds sing, enjoying just ‘being’. When I need to center myself, I sometimes picture this in my head.
    Second – the many times I sat on deck, coffee in hand, watching the sea, truly appreciating God’s creation; feeling small but oh so blessed…
    And third – the moments (actually, sometimes hours) I rocked my ‘babies’. That was perhaps the truest contentment of all; all else ceased to exist, I had the world in my arms…

  • http://earlkai.blogspot.com/ cocopuff1212

    My sister in Osaka also has a very small kitchen, and I’ve always been amazed at the yummy things she creates in it.

    I’m about to move into an apartment, and the kitchen there might have a little more counter space than yours, but two peole won’t be able to pass each other in it. The refrigerator won’t even be there — it will be in the laundry space, separated from the kitchen by a wall! Oh, and the French controls…

    My favorite place, in the house we moved out of two months ago, was the counch in the space off the kitchen. It was by the fireplace and I loved sitting there alone with a book, or with my family after dinner. That comfy couch is now in storage in California, and there are fireplaces in the soon-to-be-our-home apartment but we aren’t allowed to use them.

  • Jan

    Your kitchen is just perfect and memories of it will dwell in years to come.

    Favorite spaces, for me, are seasonal. During the long Minnesota winters, I am drawn to the maroon wingback chair by the fireplace. There I read, listen to the crackling fire and sip tea. During the cool spring months, I move to the sofa to gaze through the window at the flowering crabapple tree and the weigela bush. Summer, in a perfect world, would find me under the pin oak tree, in the hammock, book and glass of lemonade in hand. Fall, glorious fall, is hard to pin down. Maybe under the apple tree. Maybe in a pile of raked leaves under the maples. Cider, apple pie, apple roll-overs … YUM! In years past, my favorite spot was on the business side of the kitchen island carefully preparing meals and delectables for my husband and children.

  • tokyoterrace

    It sounds like you will have some adjusting to do when you move into your new place! Good luck!

    I love fireplaces. That is one thing that I definitely miss here in Japan. That is definitely not part of the culture! Maybe with yours that you are not allowed to use you could light a couple candles inside the fireplace to give the illusion of a fire?

  • http://thewhitesintokyo.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/our-kitchen/ Our Kitchen « The Whites in Tokyo
  • http://www.lafujimama.com Fuji Mama

    LOVE your kitchen! I miss my little Tokyo kitchen, even though it was even more cramped than yours! (It was long and narrow–I could stand sideways and one hand on each wall!)

  • tokyoterrace

    Fuji Mama:
    Wow! Sounds like you were definitely cramped! Our kitchen is about the size of half of our apartment- so I guess we are cramped in other ways. I do like the face that I can move around in my kitchen though.

  • tokyoterrace

    Hi Aunt J!
    I have been thinking about your comment for the past couple of days- imagining Grandma’s porch and how much I loved when I was a little girl. Listening to the birds and various bugs in the summertime was a great comfort to me. I would give anything to have just one more day of being 7 or 8 years old with not a care in the world at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Tennessee. Thanks for bringing me back there for even a moment… I love you!
    Rachael

  • http://bonvivant.wordpress.com/ Danielle

    I can sympathize with a cramped kitchen – we moved from a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen to a 1-bedroom cottage with a counter and small stove so there was a lot of creativity involved in storing our numerous pots and pans :) But yours looks far cleaner and neater than mine, so a big pat on the back for that!

  • tokyoterrace

    Danielle: I’m glad it looks organized! Sometimes I feel like it is the most unorganized place on the planet! Thankfully, my husband is great at helping to keep the dishes done, etc, so it isn’t as hard as it could be to keep everything in tip top shape (especially considering all the messes I make!)

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