Today, I am thankful for big American kitchens.

I loved living in Japan, and sometimes I miss the food more than I can stand, but I hated cooking in my various tiny, tiny kitchens. In my first apartment, I didn’t even have any counter space. There was a sink, and next to it were the two elements, and next to that was a wall that separated it from the fridge.

My kitchen, leading into the living area. I'm standing in front of the entrance to the bathroom area (separate shower and toilet). The apartment entrance is two feet behind me.

My stove and sink. That was all the counter space I had.

Doing prep work was a nightmare. I eventually stopped trying to make elaborate home-cooked meals and just got stuff I could throw in the microwave (which sat on top of the fridge). I only lived there six months, but it was still a step up from my second Japanese apartment.

The kitchen was actually maybe a bit bigger than the previous one, but I hated that place. It was a dump, crawling with bugs, dirt and grime everywhere. And the neighbors (other foreign teachers who worked for the same company as me) were terrible neighbors. Perhaps it was not entirely their faults (the walls were about as thick as cardboard), but they also tended to have loud get-togethers in the “back yard” at three in the morning. I don’t think I have any pictures of this place, possibly because I moved after only three months, my decision this time.

I moved to Moriya, which was quieter, cleaner, and closer to my work. I no longer had a train ride of nearly an hour before and after work. I could jump on my bicycle and go! I loved living in Moriya, and I loved my apartment, even though the kitchen still wasn’t much bigger.

Yes, it's a terrible mess. This was before Geordie moved in with me; I rarely used the kitchen for cooking. It was more like a storage area. I later got a (free!) microwave and organized it some.

I managed. It wasn’t until Geordie started hanging around that I started wanting to make more involved dishes. It was tough for us to both be in the kitchen at once, so we didn’t do a lot of tandem cooking. Nor did we have a table to eat at together. Sometimes we shared dinner on the couch, but often, we ate separately: Geordie on the couch at his computer, me at the desk at my computer.

Moving to Susono changed that. We still had a small kitchen, but at least we had a dining area with room for a table and chairs. The table got a lot of use: I used it as my prep space then cleaned it all up so we could eat off it. It took a bit for us to get synced, but in August and September, we did a lot of cooking together. Part of my nesting manifested as a need to cook decent meals, and made a dinner menu for four-five days every week. I even did some baking in my little convection oven.

This is actually the apartment one floor above us (where Mom stayed), but the layout is identical to ours. Sink, small counter space, two-element stove (which is hidden behind the fridge). Mom took this picture while standing next to her table.

Cooking in our kitchen (dinner: pesto salmon, sauteed mushrooms, lemon risotto). I do nearly all the actual cooking. Geordie is an excellent prep cook and sous chef!

It was a still a little cramped, but it was comfy enough for two people. I had everything organized the way I liked, including a small bookcase I used as a pantry. For the first time, I felt really comfortable in a kitchen in Japan, and I enjoyed settling in and acting like a “normal” housewife. It was odd at first, but I’ve always loved cooking and that took over everything. I love cooking for Geordie! He’s pretty easy to please, as long as I stay away from what he doesn’t like (onions and peppers, mostly, which is fine because I hate them too). I can experiment with new things and new recipes, and he’ll give them a try. Because it’s so nice to cook for him, I eagerly anticipated our life in Susono, where I would stay at home and take care of Lauren and the house and be what I generally never expected I would want to be: a homemaker.

Now, I’m still eager to have my own kitchen. I love Mom’s kitchen. It’s big, it’s room, it’s got sooooo much counter space. I try to cook the weekday meals, which seems to make everyone happy, including me. I like to cook for people; it makes me feel useful.

So, with all that being said, I’m talking about kitchens today because his might be my last “blessings” post for a while. From now on, Tuesdays are going to be a day to talk about food, cooking, and baking. As much as I like to cook, I love to bake even more. And recently, I’ve felt the desire to bake more. I haven’t really baked anything since Christmas. And since so much of my life revolves around food, I know I’m going to end up posting about it. So, I’m just going to go ahead and reserve some space for it!

And, surprisingly, I actually don’t have much to talk about in the way of cooking and baking today. I’m going over to my brother’s place for dinner tonight. He, too, is a big fan of food and cooking, but I honestly can’t remember the last time he cooked for me. Could be interesting!