Time to assess the kitchen cupboards. How many of these things do we actually use...anymore? Though the gnocchi board still has predetermining of place in my kitchen
It’s time to dig a hole and bury Norman Rockwell. Snuff out the candles. Put the tablecloths, the silver, the fine bone china and the leaded crystal in any yard sale that will take it. No one is dressing for dinner. Father need not hone his carving skills. Mother can hang up her fish forks.
Indeed times have changed. We’ve loosened our stays. Our way of entertaining has morphed into something resembling the hunt and peck method of free range chickens. Or Wolverines. Grab and go.
I’m not quite sure when I realized that my small, efficient kitchen had become a time capsule, a memorial to those lost days and ways. Marie Kondo might have something to do with it. Things that once sparked joy, tucked away in cupboards, have lost their sparkability while I wasn’t looking. Shelves and drawers are filled with things I haven’t used since I wore pearls. Oh, of course things move in and out of favour. Charger plates took a back seat to placemats for a long run, but now placemats are “out” and chargers are back “in”. Will tablecloths ever come back in favour? Only when ironing does- so don’t hold your breath! Old china and such can be reinvented for a bit of retro kitchy fun. Reuse. Recycle. Brilliant. As long as we are conscious. As long as we know what we’re doing.
One recent day in my kitchen, as I navigated a stack of cake pans to get to something I actually use, I paused to ponder whether half the stuff taking up valuable real estate in my kitchen should be evicted. It started, as avalanches so often do, with a small nudge that gradually, inexorably, took out everything in it’s path. Before long, the counters and eventually the dining room table were filled with the accumulated ebb and flow of trends of yore. I didn’t have to be ruthless. There was no question that easily half, or more, of the detritus could and should be moved along to spark someone else’s joy. I know, by now, how I operate, what I use, even occasionally. I know that my gnocchi board will stay put but the grapefruit spoons can pack their bags. Sometimes selection came into play. Which of these three tools do I like best for juicing a lemon? Making coffee? Whipping cream? Sometimes organization tactics were required. How should I label and store accessories that I never use for appliances that I do? (Old shoe bags, in my case). Once those were bagged and tagged and tucked away, dangling from the basement rafters, I started to see the light at the end of the project. Clever arrangements with efficiency in mind were a breeze in all the newly available bright and airy spaces! At the end of the day, as they too often say, but in this case, literally, I emerged, like Botticelli’s Venus on a half shell, reborn, victorious, (though fully clothed it should be noted). No more grumbling about having “a small kitchen” with “no space to store anything”. I still have two empty shelves and one empty drawer! Maybe I should bring some of the fallen back from the battlefield? Absolutely not!
For those of you who take on this challenge and emerge with your gnocchi board intact:
Gnocchi with Instant potato flakes – takes all the mess out of making great gnocchi! (Various sites. Just Google).
1 cup mashed potato flakes
1 cup boiling water
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 cups water
Pasta sauce of your choice
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Place potato flakes in a large bowl. Stir in boiling water; add egg. Stir in flour and seasonings. On a lightly floured surface, knead 10-12 times, forming a soft dough.
Divide dough into four portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into 1/2-in.-thick ropes; cut into 3/4-in. pieces. Press and roll each piece with a lightly floured fork.
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Cook gnocchi in batches for 30-60 seconds or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with sauce; sprinkle with cheese if desired.
This recipe can easily be double, tripled, etc. I make multiple batches, and freeze. To freeze, put on cookie sheets until frozen, and then put into plastic bags.
Serve with spaghetti sauce if you like, but I prefer a creamy gorgonzola sauce, personally.
GORGONZOLA CREAM SAUCE (KingArthurflour.com)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ pound Gorgonzola cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
fresh sage leaves
walnut pieces or chopped walnut halves
Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat and keep simmering until the cream is reduced in volume by about a third.
Add the cheese in pieces. Stir until all the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth.
Toss with pasta (adding pasta water to keep the sauce loose and creamy) and sprinkle servings with pepper and walnuts. Garnish with sage leaves if you have them.
Actually, for the minimalists out there, the back of a fork works just fine. Or simply cut and boil. No ridges required. For this project, all you really need is a fork, a knife and a pot of boiling water. Old Italians mix the dough right on the counter, so the aforementioned bowl is not even a necessity. Hmmm… Now I’m beginning to wonder why that gnocchi board made the cut…