The first step to better, happier cooking? Setting up a tip-top kitchen. We're talking one that's stocked with essential tools and ingredients, organized so everything you need is close at hand, and sparkling-clean from floor to ceiling. Food52 is here to make it happen. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks from the Food52 community and test kitchen to help you transform your space into its very best self.
Caroline Lange: Tell us about your kitchen. What do you love about it? Samantha Seneviratne: My favorite thing about my kitchen is the floor. The previous owner of my apartment put in these beautiful French tiles that make me happy every day. I also love the amount of storage I have. I own a lot of (too much?) cooking equipment and to have the storage for it all in a New York City kitchen is pretty exceptional. And lastly, I love my wine fridge. I don't have enough wine for it, so I use it to store things like nuts, coconut, and flour.
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CL: Has there been a tool that’s changed the way you cook? SS: I'm into my new Instant Pot. I've had a few failures, but when I nail it, I feel so pleased. Nothing is ever ready in an instant, but it does cut down time significantly. And being able to put food on and leave the house is always a win.
CL: Do you have a philosophy that guides you in the kitchen? SS: I don't believe in "guilty pleasures.” I never want to feel guilty for taking pleasure in food. Eating is a joy and I consider that every day.
CL: What do you eat when the last thing you want to do is cook? SS: Cereal. And my kiddo gets "snack dinner"—yogurt, fruit, cheese, nuts. When I don't want to cook, I don't. And I think that's perfectly fine. I don't want it to be a chore.
CL: How has cooking for your son influenced the way you cook? SS: It doesn't always work, but I try to have my [toddler] eat the same things that I'm eating for dinner. I want him to experience all the flavors and combinations that adults enjoy. I try really hard not to simplify my cooking for him. And sometimes he totally refuses and throws it on the floor, and I end up feeding him crackers.
CL: What is the best piece of kitchen wisdom you’ve ever received, or that you impart to other cooks? SS: It's just food. Don't take it so seriously. I know that feeding people is a tough job. I feel totally deflated when my toddler refuses to eat. But if I take a deep breath and relax, I remember it's all just food. And it's a pleasure. And he'll eat later. And so will I.
CL: Do you have a weekly cooking routine, or is what you cook always changing? SS: I have a handful of dishes I make regularly: breaded chicken, beans and rice, veggies and eggs, quickie paella, lentils, chickpea stew—but I try to get inspired by what's available at the supermarket every week. I belong to the Park Slope Food Coop and the vegetable and fruit selection really pushes me out of my routine.
CL: Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re in a cooking rut? SS: Food magazines. I used to work in magazine test kitchens and I know how hard those editors work to create new, innovative, and delicious recipes. I trust them!
CL: What about cooking energizes you? SS: I love a cooking project that forces me to slow down and just be in the moment. That energizes me and makes me feel truly grateful.
It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.