Baking In The Tiny House

Several years ago, even before we built our tiny house, we had heard from RVers, folks in mobile homes, and a tiny house person or two, that cooking – let alone baking – in a tiny house was next to impossible. It was discouraging news as both my wife and I enjoy cooking. I like to bake and she is nothing short of an epicurean wiz! We had seen the photos of miniature tiny house kitchens but figured the lack of ovens and multiple burner stoves was because of lack of desire. We felt like a tiny house design should reflect the person who dwells within and if you enjoy cooking that should be a priority. We therefore designed our tiny house kitchen to reflect our love of the kitchen space and found that cooking and baking was quite easy if you prepared appropriately!

Bungalow Kitchen

The above photo was of our first tiny house kitchen. ‘The Bungalow’ as we affectionately called it was our home from January 2011 until February 2012. It was where we lived, I worked, and our daughter was born. At just 180 sq.ft. it came with its challenges but we made the best of it and you can see from the image that we had a Suburban 3-burner stove and oven combo. More than a few meals were made in the oven and quite a few pots of grits were boiled on top. Fed by a propane gas line and using a push button ignitor it was a nice unit for us and for the space.

We we transitioned into our tiny house (240 sq.ft.) we continued on with our desire to have a wonderful kitchen but we decided that the RV style oven wasn’t for us. My wife had come across a beautiful Breville Smart Oven with Element IQ at one of the box stores. She fell in love instantly and with a 13″ cooking capacity (medium sized pizza or 6-slices of toast), 9 pre-set programs, a convection fan, and 1800 watts of cooking prowess (drawing just 16.5A on a 110VAC line), it was kind of a no-brainer. We would give ourselves more storage space in our kitchen cabinetry and use the Breville for cooking and baking using just a minimum of our generous countertop space. So we proceeded with the Breville oven (not shown in photo below) and a 2-burner, drop-in, gas cooktop by Suburban.

StoveBut how does this all prove that you can cook or bake in a tiny house? Well, it doesn’t really other than to say that with the right equipment, the right planning, and the right mental attitude, great dishes can, in fact, be yours for the eating in your tiny house. I don’t want to sound completely ‘raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens’. There are some downsides to cooking/baking in a tiny house.

  • SIZE - Ovens designed for recreational vehicles (often the go-to for tiny houses) are naturally smaller. A number of sticks ‘n bricks pans will be rendered useless. 99% of models are only 19″ deep and at most 21″ wide. You can definitely fit a 9×13 pan in there but you have to prepare if you want to cook two dishes at once. 
  • PROPANE – Just be aware. It is what it is.
  • HEATING ELEMENT –   For the oven to get hot the propane flame comes out from a steel bar that runs from the pilot light to the front of the oven. The bar gets incredibly hot but can make retrieving pans a little daring.
  • PREHEATING –   The oven itself is very analogue so there are no timers, buzzers, or beepers for anything. Therefore, don’t expect a preheating option. The propane runs through the bar, the oven heats. It is that simple.
  • LIGHT IT UP –   They do make electronic ignitors and even a battery ignitor model but 99% of the ovens fit for a tiny house have to be lit manually. In other words, you push the ignitor, lets gas fill up the alcove, hold your flame over the pilot light area, and wait for the bar to catch before your arm hairs do.

Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about a few tips that can help make the cooking/baking process a more enjoyable and more tasty one. Let me just say though that it has only been a few weeks since my wife and I successfully baked two pecan pies, one sweet potato soufflé, and a family size lasagna in our current setup.

Pie

  • Preheat the oven.  Unfortunately this act is seemingly a waste of propane. However, to get your cooking/baking right and to stick to your recipe you need to go through with it. We use the timer on the microwave oven or a simple kitchen timer and you can even add….well, next point.
  • Use an oven thermometer.  Coupled with a kitchen timer you can develop your own sense of preheating and how long it actually takes in your oven. Not to mention the dial on the oven itself is not historically accurate in my experience. Follow the thermometer and, again, you will develop your sense of cooking/baking times and temps.
  • Rotate your pan.  This just helps cook/bake evenly. With a bigger unit you don’t need to do so and with our Breville convection fan oven you didn’t need to. But with something like a drop-in Suburban oven you absolutely need to so that the propane doesn’t burn hotter on one side than the other.
  • Adjust your wire rack.  You have three sets of heights you can adjust your rack on. Use them. The higher up you can move the rack the less intense the heat is and the more even the cooking/baking is.

So what do you think now? Are you ready to get to cooking/baking in your tiny house? Do you have any small space tips to share regarding cooking/baking? 

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny House in a Landscape

Welcome November, winter is just around the corner. This weeks Tiny House in a Landscape was submitted by Candy and it sure looks inviting to me.

Candy says: I had this tiny house built in 2007. It is 320 square feet and is located in the Willow, Alaska area, halfway between Willow and Talkeetna. It is situated on a small picturesque lake with a view of Denali.

Thank you Candy for your submission, if you have a photo that fits into this category please email it to me at tinyhouseblog (at) gmail.com.

alaska cabin

Hotel Living As A Tiny House Option

You wake up, put on your house shoes, throw on last night’s clothes that still lay in a pile on the floor, amble down to the lobby (of course stopping to speak to the college co-ed manning the front desk), grab a paper from the lobby coffee table, and stop at the occasional table behind one of the oversized couches, just long enough to get a cup of coffee and say good morning to a couple other familiar faces. And so begins life as a full-time resident in a hotel. Okay, so the hotel sounds a bit more posh than perhaps what you or I may be able to swing. But it does sound pretty amazing, no?

Adina Hotel

photo of the Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest in Baulkham Hills, Australia

I can easily think of a number of perks that living in a hotel might provide including free and reliable WiFi, on-site fitness room, access to a pool, fresh towels upon request, in-house laundry service, and even an on-site restaurant/bar! The idea of living in a hotel is not so far fetched either. In fact, a number of celebrities have called hotels home though the years.

New York’s Hotel Chelsea – a Queen Anne-style landmark that first opened as an apartment cooperative in 1883 –  served as home for the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Arthur Miller. Overlooking L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont has been home, sweet, home for people like Greta Garbo, Robert DeNiro, and Johnny Depp while the St. Regis in Washington, DC counts among its past residents, Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire. And those are just a few.

On a more practical note though hotel living is a style of tiny house living on its own. Most rooms available for long-term lease are only about 325 square feet according to BoardingArea.com and feature a small kitchen, a bathroom (usually with tub/shower kit), a master bedroom (2 queens or 1 king), a sitting area, and some sort of workspace be it a simple desk or a fully dedicated corner. It features the essentials; typically nothing more and nothing less. But is it feasible? Can one truly live in a hotel? Absolutely!

NOTE: The hotels talked about in this post are usually called “apartment-style” hotels. Rates are based on a minimum of a month’s stay (30 days).

POTENTIAL PERKS OF HOTEL LIVING

  • No long term commitment. Perhaps you have been bitten by the traveling bug and have a location-independent job? Maybe you don’t want to build a tiny house trailer or live in an RV or even sublet a room in a house. This might be the best arrangement. It offers privacy, small amounts of luxury, and a lot of freedom.
  • Choice. When I moved to Brooklyn some years ago I was limited to my budget in a major way. I could choose between a 7th floor apartment with only two windows and bathroom at the end of the hall or a garden apartment that literally faced The Garden; a sushi restaurant that was open 24-hours.  Luckily something else came along out of the blue. But when when you live in a hotel you can decide what you want to be close to, what kind of atmosphere you want, and how large/small you want your accommodations. Remember, this is not a long term commitment so it can be changed quite regularly with no penalty.
  • On-Site Services. While most full-time hotel dwellers don’t abuse this service there is still housekeeping and room service available. You can have fresh towels as you need/want them. You can have someone else make your bed. You can have someone replace your dirty dishes. The list goes on. It is important to note though that because you are living there you will gain some sort of reputation (be it good or bad) and tipping is STILL polite. Skipping this and doing things on your own could save you money and make you great friends in the building.
  • Free newspapers, coffee/tea and/or breakfast. This is typically included in your rate so feel free to take advantage of them. No more excuses for running late to your next appointment either!
  • Having your own kitchen. Just like a sticks ‘n bricks or your own tiny house trailer, with a hotel room/suite you have a kitchen or at least a kitchenette which – more often than not – comes with plates, bowls, silverware, glasses, mugs, strainer, chef’s knife, etc. You still have to grocery shop but at least you can cook your own meals whenever you like.
  • Front Desk Support. Looking for a donut shop in the neighborhood? Need a cab to take you to an event neighborhoods away? Waiting on a package from UPS that will arrive just moments after you leave? No worries. The desk clerk is there….24/7!
  • Handyman Support. Your coffee pot is not brewing? Your TV stopped turning on? No problem. Every hotel employs a small staff of handymen and service personnel. Call them. Tip them.
  • Security. This is huge! Between lobby cameras, hallway cameras, key card elevators, etc. security is usually top notch at a hotel.

UPS DeliveryUsing the desk services at a hotel will keep you from ever missing one of these again. 

POTENTIAL PRATFALLS OF HOTEL LIVING

  • Nowhere to call “home”. While it is true that home is where you park it or home is where you hang your heart or a number of other cliches living in a hotel means you won’t have a physical address. While hotels will allow you to have mail delivered there in care of their direct address they – nor the government – will allow you to claim the location as your permanent address.
  • Loneliness. Like living in a campground or other community-type setting there are in-seasons, off-seasons, perk weekends, and quiet times. On normal days and nights it is likely that you won’t see many guests at a hotel so you’re interaction will be limited. Living in a hotel may also keep you at some distance from friends and family unless you are huddled down in your home town.
  • Lack of personality. Don’t like the artwork on your bedroom walls? Does that picture over your bed make you think of clowns parading through lollipop factories singing a chorus of degenerate laughter? Too bed. Without causing damage to the room there is nothing you can do about the overall appearance. The colors, pillows, comforters, and dishware are there to stay. This is however a good exercise in adding personality to your surroundings. You can use colorful scarves, small houseplants, live flowers, digital photo frames, etc to add a personal yet portable comfort to your accommodations.
  • Space. A hotel room/suite is usually a standard, corporate design with furniture designed or purchased to fit in an exact spot. There are few options, if any. If you feel cramped with the desk in a certain spot chances are you can’t move it anywhere because there is nowhere to move it. The space is laid out for you. You are the guest in this situation. The furniture is there for good.

Living in a hotel room or suite is not conventional at all. It is not part of the American Dream so many of us grew up to understand and look forward to. But it is an adventure like no other and could possibly make your next tiny house. Don’t ever be afraid to hang your heart anywhere there is a good cup of free coffee!

 

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]