Friday, December 14, 2007

Welcome to the Hallway

Some cooking blogs are really classy... full of beautiful photographs of delicious food, and ingenious, original recipes.

This is not that cooking blog.

Oh, make no doubt about it: we're very classy. However, my dear friend Allison and I are held back by our situation: we are college students. For the last four months we've been living in London, where the only thing more expensive than good groceries is real estate. Furthermore, we've been cooking in the world's tiniest kitchen:

We learned to cope with numerous difficulties: no counter space, no storage space, a refrigerator that is half taken over by ice crystals (Allison says, "It's more of an ice block!"), that then melted and flooded the bottom of the refrigerator with water.

At one point, the overhead light in our kitchen (which was already dim), burned out completely. It took a couple of weeks to replace it, and in the interim we had to bring a lamp into the kitchen so we could see. Unfortunately, the lamp took over the only available electrical outlet, which led to the invention of hallway toast:

While hallway toast is genius in concept, it is slightly less genius in practice--especially when your building is equipped with extremely sensitive smoke alarms. One late-night toast-making session may or may not have led to our entire building being evacuated out into the rain and cold.

Despite all these setbacks, Allison and I (amazingly) are still friends. And we even managed to cook some pretty delicious things in our crappy kitchen!

We've come to rely on basic dishes that satisfy us and our five meat-eating flatmates. Some of our favorite successes include pasta with homemade vodka sauce, eggplant parmesan, Thai curry with tofu (even though tofu is mysteriously difficult to buy in central London), and a particularly lovely sweet potato coconut soup (I may be biased--I made that one). Some nights, though, we just had to give up on pleasing our meat-eating friends and return to our favorite foods--which led an earthy and simple white bean and kale soup. Our flatmates retaliated and cooked sausage.

Even though we've had a lot of fun cooking this semester, we've also had (more than) our fair share of disasters. To start with, there was the time we tried to make rice in the oven due to a lack of available stove space. Um... it was a little crunchy. As I mentioned earlier, our fire alarm was a recurrent enemy. And the lack of counter space led to plastic bags of bread getting set down on hot stove burners... and then melting.

Now Allison and I are getting ready to head home to the U.S.--Iowa and Oklahoma, respectively. Although we'll miss London--and each other!--there are some things I can't wait for: huge American grocery stores, readily-available tofu (even in Oklahoma!), and cooking in my parents' huge, wonderful, amazing kitchen (well, after the kitchen in this flat, any other kitchen will probably seem amazing!). There are five weeks until Allison and I will be back at school and can cook together again, and in the meantime we hope to keep in touch and share recipes in this blog.

Always remember: there's nothing classier than making toast in the hallway.

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