Customer Reviews: The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up and Cooking in the Most Ridiculously Small Kitchen in the World--Your Own
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on March 28, 2006
For those of us who choose to live in urban areas, it usually follows that we trade space for the excitement of city living. At the same time, the desire to have a warm, inviting kitchen even in a small space is natural--it's a hallmark of domesticity and comfort. Believe it or not, for many of us, the tiny kitchen is not where you make coffee, put take-out on plates or store sweaters in the oven. (All fairly common in NYC). The kitchen is the heart of the home. And even the smalled home needs that.

In his wonderful book, Justin Spring shows you how to make the most of even the tiniest kitchen with practical tips, great recipes and ideas about organization. (This is priceless advice even if you live in a mansion.) His gentle wit and terrific advice fill the book and make it a consistent pleasure. The drawings are great, too, and for its small size the book is beautifully designed...seems like there's a theme here.

Quite simply, Spring shows us that size doesn't matter. It's the intelligence, ingenuity and inventiveness that goes into the kitchen that guarantees what comes out--the warmth, care and great food that give even the tiniest kitchen a big and loving heart.
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on March 24, 2006
We never have enough space in Arctic Alaska, and we sure like to eat, especially when it is super cold and dark outside.

So this book, and the cheerful, upbeat way it is written, should help us.

But as Spring points out early on, the book can help anyone who has to deal with a hot, crowded and rather claustrophobic kitchen area ("something like taking a berth on "Das Boot."

The man speaks from experience, and shares 100 recipes, successfully done in his 45-sq.ft. New York apartment kitchen. Included is a recipe developed for a 25-pound Alaska wild salmon, caught and sent by his sister from the far north.

He shares the limited space in his 500-sq.ft. apartment with several dogs, who often stake out key locations in the tiny kitchen. Stay tuned for reports on who wins that battle.

The book can help you clean and prep your kitchen, select the right appliances (he loves his toaster oven) and get rid of the clutter many of us accumulate in our kitchen.

So get this book and then stretch out and read it, but not in your tiny kitchen, especially if you have dogs.
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on March 28, 2009
After having borrowed this book from the library at least 3 times, I am finally buying myself a copy. I have a galley kitchen with only three useable cabinets and they are all upper cabinets. Moving into this kitchen from a large country kitchen was a disaster. Not only couldn't I fit everything into the kitchen, I couldn't find the things I needed.

As I learned from this book, my real problem was that I didn't know what I really used versus the things that were "nice to have." This is the first and only book that I have *ever* read that helped me tackle the problem of how to actually cook in a very small (6 ft x 8 ft) kitchen.

What counts as small? If you have ever visited a New York City apartment, then you know that a kitchen can be inside a coat closet, share the sink with the bathroom or be approximately 6 feet along the wall of the only room. Often there are two burners, an easy-bake oven, and a dorm-size fridge. This is the kind of small that the author is talking about.

About half of the book is a discussion of what you as an individual cook need in your kitchen, accented with hilarious stories of mistakes made by the author's friends. The author's recommendations actually apply to every room in your tiny house, but they are invaluable for setting up a kitchen where you can actually cook. If you are looking for advice for living in a small space (really small, not 1200 square feet small), this book succinctly covers the concepts.

The second half of the book is recipies, which may or may not be of interest. Even if they aren't what you are looking for, they do provide ideas for how to adapt recipies--and cooking in general--to situations with a grand total of 3 square feet of counter space.

Even if your kitchen isn't all that small, this is a great book. I would also recommend it to college students, people starting out or starting over, and anyone who has to cook somewhere other than in a gourmet kitchen.
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on March 16, 2006
This is a gem of a book, suitable for anyone whose kitchen is smaller than ideal. In his humorous, easy-to-read manner Justin Spring provides numerous ways to get the most out of a tiny kitchen and entertain with ease.
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on April 4, 2014
I love this handbook. There are some great advice for how pick a basic set of kitchen equipment to help with lack of storage in small apartments. Even if you have decent size apartments, some of these basic equipments will help to keep your kitchen basic and simple. The recipes are also really great starting points for basic cooking. The Sunday Pot Roast recipe is fantastic.
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on February 19, 2012
The Itty Bitty Kitchen Book is an itty bitty book, but it's packed with good thinking and cleverness. You're not going to find a bunch of recipes in here, but you will find tips on how to organize a small kitchen, many of which are equally applicable in a larger kitchen. Common sense prevails, so many of the ideas seem obvious as you read them, but as you go along, you'll also find clearheaded thinking about how to deal with the realities of working in spaces that most people would consider too small.

If you live in a postage-stamp apartment for any length of time, or on a boat, or in a motor home, and you want to cook for yourself, you need to take a look at this book. Likewise, if you live in place with a normal-sized kitchen but have no idea how to get it organized, this book can get your brain wrapped around efficiency and simplicity.
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on January 26, 2008
I am one of those who live in an apartment with a micro kitchen, and I also love to cook, so making it all work in a tiny space has been a real challenge. The recipes are fine, but what makes this book special are the great tips on how to make the most of your space and how to use as little equipment to make what you need as possible. I have lovely well-meaning relatives who know I like to cook and consequently give me lots of cooking equipment, small appliances, china ("here, take this, I haven't used it in years"), serving dishes, etc. that I have absolutely no room for. This is a situation he addresses with both humor and practical advice, and I found his suggestions on de-cluttering both tactful and helpful. A must for anyone who would actually like to use their small kitchen, and good advice for anyone on effective space use.
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on November 27, 2006
The recipes in this book tend to assume the worst about your kitchen, which is nice. Even though I do have an oven, it's nice to have a little book with microwave and toaster oven recipes.

The organizational tips are great for any size kitchen in my opinion. I also like how he lists the bare-bones kitchen requirements. This book would be fantastic for someone with a tiny kitchen or someone with lots of roommates.
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on May 9, 2008
The downside: The recipes in here are super-basic; if you're looking for innovative cuisine, this ain't it. Also, given the setups described here, I suddenly felt like my 10x10 kitchenette was the galley at Buckingham Palace by comparison.

The good side: If you ever have to cook in an RV, in a shared cooking space (think dorm), and are literally reduced to hot plates, a toaster oven, and one burner and one pot, this is your book. I could see this being a fantastic resource for a student living in a Very Tiny Apartment with a half-sized fridge and two burners. Some of these recipes could probably even be done with camping equipment. Also, the instructions are very good and it really does "start at the beginning," so if you're shipping off your kid to college and they can't boil water, they won't starve to death or burn the dorm down using this book.
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This book is appropriately on the small side, under 6" x 7", but it is very thorough and informative and fun to read. I have had a small kitchen for many years yet picked up some new ideas and also discovered that I am not the only one to do certain things that someone with a big kitchen would think odd, like relying only on short pasta. So this book is not only useful for people newly-adapting to a small kitchen but also for those who already have a small kitchen.

The author walks you through purging, cleaning, organizing and equipping your itty bitty kitchen as well as shopping for food, preparing it, and entertaining.

The book includes both specific details, such as recommending a particular brand of gadget and where to buy it, and the theory behind the information presented, which is helpful if you don't like someone telling you to do something without telling you why. For instance, should you keep your garbage under the counter or in a free-standing container? Pros & cons of each are discussed. The author clearly knows what he writes about from long experience and I frequently thought, "Geepers, finally here is someone who really understands."

The issue of true claustrophobia, interestingly enough, pops up several times with helpful advice.

I didn't expect the recipe section to be very useful but the techniques given and the reasons they are suited for small kitchens are quite helpful. Anyone who cooks with a toaster oven will find this section especially handy, itty bitty kitchen or not.

My only complaint is that the occasional sidebar with very small bright grass-green type on a white background is hard to read and those with white type on the grass-green background are next to impossible to read. The latter seems to vibrate and must be teased out word-for-word. I hope that in future reprints a darker shade of green, perhaps something like the avocado color of the 1960s, is used for legibility. (It is a much brighter and grassier green than it appears to be in the illustration here, and the orange much more vibrant.)

This book would make an much-appreciated gift for anyone living in or moving into a place with a tiny kitchen. Someone with an Airstream or a live-aboard boat would especially benefit. It is indeed a complete and useful handbook for the itty bitty kitchen.
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