Monday, March 16, 2015

Hosting in the Step-Aside Kitchen

 Here you can kind of see the distance between my working counter space and my dining table.

 I want to have more people over for dinner. I'd actually like to host a dinner party one of these days. But here's the thing: my kitchen is the "Step-Aside" kitchen. That was the name I gave it shortly after moving in, because it is true. If more than one person is standing in the kitchen area or dining area at one time, you very quickly ending up asking them, "Could you move please?" or "Step aside, just a second," or "Can I get in there for just a moment?"

I knew this when I moved in. In fact, my husband even said to me, "Are you sure?? The kitchen is awfully small...." But I was so smitten with my little cottage that I said it was NO problem. That's right. I accepted the wee space that sometimes makes me believe I am cooking or eating on a boat.

This gives you an idea of the space between the table and the wall and the bakers rack. The counter is also right where I'm standing with the camera. If someone is sitting in that first chair on the left we always need to ask them to scoot in when someone needs to walk through.

Really, it is okay. I have cooked in various sized kitchens over the years and I always manage to turn out yummy food. I think more than the cooking space (which is actually convenient, since everything is pretty much in arms reach, or at least only one step away) that is the challenge is the dining space. And here is where I lay my complaint to Mr. or Ms. Architect of 1953: Why is it that the rest of my house very comfortably suits this family of 4 - and could even accommodate a couple more children - while the kitchen and dining space, the most used space in the house, is the smallest, apart from the bathrooms? It's just a little odd.

You can see how quickly my counter space fills up. Also, here you can see the location of the bakers rack. I keep all my cookbooks and spices in there for lack of cabinet space, so I don't feel I can do without the bakers rack in my kitchen.
This is the only part of my house that I want to change. Someday, I imagine, that great remodeling project will be undertaken (I am not looking forward to it!). But until that day arrives, I don't want to miss out on having people over for dinner. I know the power of the table for relationships and I love that Jesus spent a great deal of time with people around a table. One of the descriptions of our heavenly home is as a great banquet. Also, I think it is interesting that we were made, as human beings, to need food. All of us alike, must stop a few times during the day to eat. I wonder how our relationships would be if we didn't have to eat? I know that there are days when I find having to fix a meal - even just for myself sometimes - an inconvenience. I want to remain in work mode or play mode and don't want to have to stop what I am doing to eat. Other times, though, the meal is the highlight of the day. I love that eating can be an event or just simple fare. And I love that no matter which of those it is, it is always better when done with friends.

I host Christmas at my house for my side of the family and sometimes my husband's side too. Like I said, the other rooms are nice sizes. But when it comes to having food, I always end up having to have the food served buffet style and people end up with plates in laps. It's fine. But it's not what I prefer.

July 4, 2013. You can see what one of the buffet tables looks like. We had a lot of family over on that day. Look how much room my brother and nephew take up just standing there! lol! 

We also have had couples join us for dinner a few times, as that's all we can manage around the table: one couple and us. And then the girls don't generally eat with us. We did have them at the table with us once and I had to sit in a strategic end spot (more like the corner of the table!) so that I could get up and down to fetch dishes, dessert, coffee, etc. But it was a lot of fun; I would like to do more of it. Ideally, I would like to have guests once-a-month. I don't know if that is realistic with my school schedule, but it's something I think about and would like to do.

I am hoping that this book, What's a Hostess to Do?, might help me out a bit. It looks like she might have some good ideas for unconventional dining arrangements (hopefully?). Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen inspired me to try again with this post and it's there that she mentioned the book. So, we shall see! I have requested it from the library and am looking forward to perusing its pages to see if there is some magical thing I can try to make having people over more often. In the end it may be that I'll just have to settle for one couple at time for intimate dinners until the day we say, "Westward Ho!" and expand the kitchen onto the deck!

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