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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

My Love Affair with Kitchens

As a house sitter, I’ve had the great fortune to call many kitchens my own. I didn’t know I would love them so much and indeed some folks have wondered how I could “put up with” all the different stuff people have, or how they arrange their kitchens. Here’s what I have discovered:

House sitting in Baltimore

~ New gadgets. I reject most but adopt some great ones – like my beloved microplane seen here.

~ Ingredients. All pantries are stocked with the homeowner’s favorite basics. I use them and learn.

House sitting iin Denmark immersion travel

~Spices. I try them all. See them in this photo lined up above the sink. One fabulous kitchen had seeds galore, so with their mortar and pestle, I discovered my appreciation for seed’s ultra-fresh and deep flavor.

~ Intimate connection. There’s something special about bumping around in another person’s kitchen – and their home – that connects us.

That last point is the biggest surprise of all. Homeowner’s take a calculated leap of faith having someone else look after their home. I appreciate that trust while I go about all the day-to-day stuff, like opening closets to look for a new light bulb for instance, or digging through the kitchen cabinets to find just the right size sauce pan. But it goes much deeper than that. No one else has such an intimate knowledge of the homeowner – perhaps not even their closest friends. I know how organized – or not! – their closets are and how crusted with gunk the espresso maker or lawn mower is. I know that the shower drain is plugged. I see how important organization is to them.

House sitting in Baltimore

I see how precious their possessions are, because even if broken, they save in a plastic bin like this one tucked under a table awaiting a fix-it job.

Kitchens are especially personal because it’s the heart of any home. I can really “read” what their life is like.

House sitting in Baltimore

The home I’m house sitting in now has lots of cute seasonally themed glassware for the kids, and one whole shelf devoted to cookie and cake decorating – all kid themed.

House sitting in remote Spain Off-the-grid immersion travel

On the other end of the spectrum, a remote home in the Spanish Mountains had a tiny kitchen – so tiny that the cutlery and dishes were housed in an armoire in the adjacent living room. There was no toaster, blender, or mixing bowl, and the five pots hung from screws in the adobe walls. I adopted a simple and rustic way of cooking and I still occasionally serve “mountain stew” while we reminisce about our sweet and challenging days there.

My life is richer for having known all those kitchens. And when the homeowners come home, I hug with a great appreciation for them that lasts long after we part company.

 Wishing you happy and safe travels always and all ways,

Josie

 

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27 Responses to “My Love Affair with Kitchens”

  1. I love that you are so appreciative of the quirky things people keep in their homes! I recently had a housesitter for the first time and I was endlessly worried about whether I had tidied up enough (even in hidden places, like the closets and cupboards) and what they would think about our house. Though they said they thought I left it immaculate and that they loved the stay, I still worried that it didn’t live up to their expectations. It’s not the biggest home and I’m certainly no Martha Stewart, but it is very comfortable and I love it. I’m glad to hear that other housesitters are so accepting of the homes they stay in.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:34 am Reply
    • Hey Cassie, So good to hear from the other side. Glad you enjoyed!

      June 1, 2012 at 7:04 am Reply
  2. Even the tiniest kitchen was functional and as most of the kitchens I have worked in I fid the gadgets etc in the third drawer and the tea towels in the bottom if there are four drawers.
    I am in a chef’s kitchen at this time and I honestly can’t believe it is! Where are the cookie trays? There are no utensil jars (all in a drawer- 8 of them) no knife block again in the drawers. I have seen a bigger extensive spice and herb collection in most homes. Lucky I carry many of my own favourites as well as my gluten free flours. I have a Thermomix which comes with me along with two favourite knives and my Aldi Coffee machine. Can’t do that when I travel OS though.
    Huge oven yes, and plenty of hobs but needs an instruction book left in a drawer.
    I have permission from many of the long sit owners to cull their pantry of out of date items. They love the clean and organised space, and I get my needs met. A touch of anal? Hmmm.

    September 10, 2014 at 5:25 am Reply
    • Ah Francien, I see you understand! And it’s so funny about you chef’s kitchen where nothing is in the right place!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Josie

      September 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm Reply
  3. I love the wide range of kitchens you’ve experienced! In Mexico and Guatemala I’m always amazed by the fantastic meals that can be turned out of a teeny tiny kitchen with even the most rudimentary of tools.
    Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel) recently posted..15 sure-fire sources for stellar press tripsMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 11:03 am Reply
    • Good point Michele — about simple kitchens. We sure proved it true from our little off-the-grid Spanish kitchen. The food just tastes different, you know?! I would love to have seen those places in Mexico and Guatemala. Thanks for stopping by!
      Josie

      January 19, 2015 at 4:22 pm Reply
  4. Since we travel full-time we try to alternate house sitting gigs with furnished apartments and hotels. It’s so fun to shop and cook with local ingredients and a fully stocked kitchen with GOOD knives as well as pots and pans enhances the experience. And, like you, we love to try out the new and different gadgets as well as the spices!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted..An Urban Garden in Getsemani: Cartagena, ColombiaMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 12:53 pm Reply
    • Hi Anita, For sure — the local ingredients from stores or street markets are so fun to try. And I totally hear you about knives. I have traveled with my knives before, because I get very grouchy if I have to smash through tomatoes or bread with a dull blade!
      Traveling full time — how great! Love that you are doing it and really immersing in the world!
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Josie

      January 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm Reply
  5. After a long travel, it’s always fun to go home to one’s kitchen and I also love to bring home some wonderful kitchen souviners
    noel recently posted..Gump’s shopping experienceMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm Reply
    • Ah yes, Noel, to get home to my own kitchen is indeed very nice. And yes too –the souveniers. Isn’t that why my “stuff” drawer is overstuffed!? My favorite is my microplane, (Okay I have 2!). What’s yours?
      Josie

      January 19, 2015 at 4:48 pm Reply
  6. Always nice to learn 🙂
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted..NONNA’S PINE NUT CROSTATAMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm Reply
    • Thanks Nat and Tim!

      January 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm Reply
  7. What a great subject for travelers. I love staying in Airbnb places and while not as intimate as house sitting they always reflect the owner’s taste.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted..Zipline adventures in Maui’s UpcountryMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 6:12 pm Reply
    • Yeah Elaine, Airbnb kitchens do indeed reflect the owner’s taste — and sense of hostiness! I love when Airbnb hosts stock the kitchen with basics such as olive oil, salt/pepper/oregano/cinnamon, condiments, butter, and perhaps an onion and cloves of garlic.
      Thanks for that insight!
      Josie

      January 20, 2015 at 8:05 am Reply
  8. Absolutely loved this post. You sound like a “kitchen psychologist” who has taken a peek inside the psyches of these homeowners 🙂
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Cabernet season in the Napa ValleyMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm Reply
    • Haha, thanks Irene! Hmmm, my new title, perhaps — Kitchen Psychologist! I like it!
      I appreciate your visit here.
      Josie

      January 20, 2015 at 8:09 am Reply
  9. Must say I envy a nice, big kitchen. Still love to cook, but the kitchen in the RV has changed the style drastically. Hard to say I love it, but it gets the job done.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted..Stockholm Syndrome: Captured by SwedenMy Profile

    January 19, 2015 at 10:25 pm Reply
    • Thanks Dave and Veronica,
      Oh boy, an RV kitchen must be a challenge with its limited space. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced one myself, but I do remember a lot of wilderness trips. And as a whole, I think avid hiker/wilderness-types take the challenge of food very seriously! The best example I remember was a hiking trip on Isle Royale in the middle of Lake Superior. One of our small group of 7 revealed — after dinner one night — a carton of ice cream out of his pack. He had devised a special, and very light-weight and compact, system to keep the stuff frozen. That slightly runny ice cream tasted like heaven out there under the stars! After that, I’ve always felt anything’s possible — plus have discovered a world of fabulous ingredients. I’ve been known to spend upwards of 100 bucks on balsamic vinegar because its sublime flavor is well worth it! And as someone pointed out to me — unlike a fine bottle of wine, (at about the same cost), the vinegar will take 6 months to use up!
      Sorry for my lengthy dissertation here, but as you can see, I like kitchen talk!
      Wishing you safe, happy, and good-tasting travel,
      Josie

      January 20, 2015 at 8:26 am Reply
  10. We agree! House sitting with different kitchens is a great way to get to know a new area, as well as learn new ways to cook and enjoy the local cuisine. Still, we travel with some basic herbs, spices and even Pete’s favorite grater! Good stuff!
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..Story, Memory and the Intransigence of ListsMy Profile

    January 20, 2015 at 2:31 am Reply
    • A fellow spice packer! A fellow kitchen gadget packer! It really makes a difference doesn’t it? Here’s a funny thing that happened on my recent two-month trip to Spain. I packed more spices than ever before. I put each spice in its own zip-lock, and had about 12 different ones. Then all the little bags went into one big zip-lock. When I unpacked the spices, they all smelled like cumin — so much so that I couldn’t even distinguish the others from cumin. Paprika, cayenne, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon — all smelled like cumin! Never would have guessed cumin to be so overpowering!
      Thanks Betsy, as always for your visit here and comment! I appreciate you.
      Josie

      January 20, 2015 at 8:35 am Reply
  11. There’s not other place like a household’s kitchen where you can learn about so many new things! From new spices and herbs to surprising ways to organize the space and workflow, tools and gadgets you never knew existed (and probable won’t dare to use without clear instructions)…
    Juergen | dare2go recently posted..Living Fossils at Nahuelbuta National ParkMy Profile

    January 20, 2015 at 7:53 am Reply
    • Hi Juergen,
      I’ll second that . . . !!! But I have to encourage you on one point — trying the new and unknown gadgets in someone else’s kitchen is part of the fun and challenge. Please dare to try!
      Seriously though, I thank you for your spot-on viewpoint — and welcome!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels.
      Josie

      January 20, 2015 at 8:41 am Reply
  12. I very much enjoyed reading about the various kitchen styles you have encountered. How interesting. Made me think of my own long double-decker spice rack and my drawer filled with broken china. 🙂

    January 21, 2015 at 6:39 pm Reply
  13. My sentiments, exactly. It’s fun, voyeuristic, and dangerous cooking in unfamiliar places! I was just looking at some old house sitting posts of mine on my old site, http://www.HMSHenning.com, this morning, planning to move them to our current site…three years later! You’ll like the one about my burning up a rice cooker. oops.
    Kristin Henning recently posted..Guard at the Treasury, Petra, JordanMy Profile

    January 23, 2015 at 7:40 am Reply
    • Hi Kristin,
      Haha, you captured house sitting perfectly in your article. There are pros and cons — and it’s not for everyone — but the pros are sooo great, especially immersing into the culture of a place. Falling in love with kitchens seems to resonate with a lot of house sitters, too!
      Thanks so much and welcome!
      Wishing you happy and safe travels,
      Josie

      January 23, 2015 at 8:18 am Reply

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