Spotlight on Smitten Kitchen

Most people who know me know that I am obsessed with Deb Perelman’s blog Smitten Kitchen. Deb is perhaps one of the greatest examples of an amateur chef who gained world renown through blogging creative and easy-to-follow recipes. Though she doesn’t have a background in cooking, her epicurean appeal has spread to millions of readers online and her cookbook now a New York Times bestseller. Deb’s cooking philosophy is very similar to mine and is, in many ways, my inspiration. While she focuses more heavily on baking than I do, she proves that you can make amazing, gourmet meals in a small amount of space.

If you check out Deb’s blog, it will probably be pretty clear that I’ve taken some cues from her when it comes to my blog. But, in case you’re wondering what I think specifically makes her a great model for tiny kitchen cooking, here are a few tips I’ve picked up from Deb:

1) “Clear the decks”—In an interview with NPR, Deb says that one of the biggest keys to cooking in a small space is getting rid of extra stuff. While it would be great to have all your spices and flour canisters out, it’s not practical in close quarters. Leave out a few essentials (I always have my olive oil, salt, and pepper on the counter) but put everything else away to give yourself room to play.

2) A good recipe should be easy to replicate—This goes for everyone, from world-class chefs, well-versed amateurs, or first-time cooks: if a recipe is written correctly, anyone should be able to follow the instructions. Deb’s recipes are easy-to-read. She tests everything she posts on her blog (as do I) and anticipates any little quirks that might throw off another cook. She’ll let you know if a batter will seem too thick, and lets you know that that’s ok.  Little tips, tricks, and guideposts as to how things should look, taste, and feel help a cook keep on track when trying out new techniques.

3) Give and take from other cooks is key—While reading through comments after finding a recipe (or, if you’re blogging yourself, responding to reader comments) might seem like a chore, it will make you a better cook. Everyone has different cooking methods, different access to ingredients, and different palates. Reader comments will give you new ideas, inspire you to try things different ways, or warn you of a failing in the original recipe. Deb credits the active community on Smitten Kitchen as having made her the cook she is today, and her participation on her site shows she’s still learning from her active comments sections.

The list of tips and tricks I’ve learned from reading Smitten Kitchen could go on and on, but I think those three epitomize what makes Deb’s blog great. Hopefully, I can take these, run with them, and figure out new ways to make apartment cooking easy, fun, and accessible for all of you.

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