I grew up learning and loving to cook in a kitchen that I took for granted. When I transitioned to living in Berkeley, I found that cooking had not only become a necessity but had become harder, as well. Visiting home for the holidays made me appreciate the little things that make working in the kitchen a whole lot easier.
Coming home from my small apartment, the most notable difference is the increase in room – counter space for prepping and fridge and cabinet space for storage. An extra-large countertop means I can work on multiple things at once – whether that means preparing a multi-course meal or simply having the room to cook while the drying rack is out. Also, I have a bit more freedom to cook things I wouldn’t have the space to do otherwise – recipes that might involve rolling out dough, for example. I don’t have to worry about fitting leftovers into the fridge or my overstuffed pantries falling out of place when I open the cabinet doors.
Extra storage and a plan to stay put indefinitely mean that my folks can afford to have ingredients that I don’t have when I’m away. Even though my personal spice collection sufficiently covers the staples like cumin, curry powder or paprika, I don’t have access to ingredients that I might use less often, like cardamom or fennel. Spices like these are pretty easy to live without, but having access to them at home opens up opportunities to explore new flavors or add that extra little something to a dish that’s been lacking until now.
The ease of a dishwasher feels like a luxury to those like me who have to hand-wash everything at their apartments. Making a meal seems much more approachable without the ordeal of washing dishes looming in the future. With a simple rinse, the dishes are put out of sight and out of mind until they are magically ready to be unloaded, even more spotless than we can do by hand. It goes without saying that I’m much more inclined to do the dishes now than I used to be, having realized how easy it is to do the dishes when a machine basically does the whole process for me.
A garbage disposal may be more hidden and used a lot less than a dishwasher, but I miss it just as much when I’m away. To me, there’s nothing grosser than fishing a glob of wet food out of the sink or watching in horror as the clogged sink fills with dirty water and the dregs of my last meal. A garbage disposal makes cleaning that much easier, not having to worry about clogs or scraping every plate clean before washing the dishes.
Abundance of dishes
Living alone in my Berkeley apartment, nearly all my sets came in twos: only two plates and two mugs. Everything else was hand-me-downs or recycled jars that used to be filled with pickles or marinara sauce. Having friends over meant a mad rush to clean any dirty dishes or breaking out the plastic utensils. Even so, I didn’t have the right tools – serving special drinks in milk glasses and soup in mugs, mashing potatoes with a whisk or storing extra rice in a yogurt container. When I get home, I feel like there’s a tool for everything. Need a little ramekin for a used tea bag? No problem. A mixing bowl that doesn’t have to double as a fruit bowl? You got it. Three sizes of spoons for every occasion? Eating with a teaspoon makes me feel like a giant. It’s the best.
Cooking at my parents’ house, in a totally outfitted kitchen, is good for more than just inspiring my dream home checklist. My favorite part, in fact, isn’t any of the little gadgets or amenities that make cooking easier; instead, it’s the company. Making a meal is so much more fulfilling when I’m cooking for my loved ones instead of just myself. Sitting around a table and talking about our day while eating dinner is one of those childhood memories I miss the most. While the fancy dishwasher or the extra storage definitely makes cooking the meal easier, I’d just as happily cook at home without these things if it still meant bringing together my family.