Insert a Toothpick at 3 O'Clock
Perhaps it was my years of cooking in studio and bachelor apartments using a two-burner hotplate or little more, that attracted me to the book Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens, by Jennifer Schaertl. For years I lived in small spaces and served good meals to friends. Sometimes I had the luxury of a real stove top and oven, and our first house actually had about 15 or so square feet of counter space.
Schaertl's book tries to make the the challenge of cooking in small spaces (CLKs) easier by loading in hints on space saving tools and methods. She adapts recipes like her Better-than-Nookie Sweet Potato Gnocchi to work in tight quarters, which she accomplishes by piping them from a bag rather than rolling and cutting them in the traditional method. You can see a video of this particular recipe by going to the CLK website and clicking on the link for the original CLK video.
Some of the suggestions are quite practical. I had a "D'oh" moment (a la Homer Simpson) at the idea of using a measuring spoon in place of a melon baller. Every once in a while, I have need for a small melon baller, but then somehow I can never remember to pick one up. Reading Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens, I realized I have had a whole array of nice round stainless steel melon ballers hanging in my cupboard for years. I just thought they were used for measuring stuff and not much else!
Most of the recipes are easily manageable, although this is not a book for the novice cook. I found that sometimes you need just a little more knowledge. The Greek-Godlike Stuffed Tomatoes were a hit when I made them, but since feta is not a good melting cheese, I had to increase the oven temperature and move the dish to the upper part of the oven to get it to finish as described. Some recipes, like My Personal Wellington, may be a bit daunting for beginner cooks.
I admit I do find the title a little perplexing, since there is little said about how to put together everything for an entire meal in a small kitchen. Gourmet Food in Crappy Little Kitchens might have been a bit more accurate.
And the title of this posting? In the recipe for No-Space Meatballs, the instructions say, "To serve, arrange the meatballs on your serving tray and insert a toothpick at 3 o'clock." My perverse mind immediately went to the image of a bewildered cook scratching their head and thinking, "but company isn't coming until 5:30!" Okay, I knew that wasn't what the author meant, and you would have too, but I still had to chuckle.
Overall, I would have to give this book 3 1/2 out of five.