life in a tiny apartment.

September 19, 2012


Tip #31: Don’t worry too much about cooking odors.

When people find out that we live in a tiny apartment, a common question is whether or not we cook. The question often stems from people being curious about whether or not we have full-sized kitchen appliances or whether we have enough counter space to chop and dice effectively, but a surprising number of people ask whether our tiny apartment traps cooking odors. It’s a strange preoccupation, but I won’t say that I’m entirely immune to the worry. I’m writing this in part because last night for dinner, James and I seared a cast iron skillet full of scallops caught by a fisherman friend and already this morning I have burned a candle, opened our window and baked a batch of muffins to cover the remaining hints of fishiness.  
Here’s the thing: the vast majority of apartments in this city–especially tiny ones–have no cooking fan, no kitchen vent, no real way of circulating air other than to open a window and pray for a breeze. I say, throw caution to the wind. Cook your heart out and make up for bad smells by cooking other things that smell better. It’s either that or deprive yourself just because caramelizing a few onions might make the joint a little more pungent one night. Not a good trade in my book.
If you really can’t stand lingering cooking odors, I suggest papier d’armenie. It works like magic. Warning: when the paper is first burned the smell can seem oppressive–like church incense gone wrong (which is usually the way, isn’t it?), but the end result is delightful. Within minutes after burning, the odor of the paper and whatever malodorous something it was trying to mask are both gone. Poof. If you know of a local spot that sells it, lemme know. I’m on the lookout. {Update: Brook Farm General Store has it in stock! Thanks, Amanda}

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  • Reply Amielle September 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Cooking something up always wins over the smell it might leave behind. We'd never cook bacon, otherwise!

  • Reply Amanda September 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Brook Farm, Stuart & Wright.

    • Reply Erin September 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      of course. thank you, amanda!

  • Reply Adriana F September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I love it when a house smells of good homemade food 🙂 Makes me a bit hungry tho!

  • Reply Lottie Simm September 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    some cooking odours are amazing though and they always remind me of a happy home where there is good food, laughter and great conversation 🙂

    • Reply Erin September 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      yes, exactly!

  • Reply Diana Mieczan September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I so agree with you! You can totally cover bad smells with scrumptious ones:) Have a wonderful day. xo

  • Reply la domestique September 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I live in a tiny apartment and am constantly cooking. My hope is that it's a welcoming aroma, but cooking fish or stock can really leave their mark in the air. I love the Voluspa candles from Anthropologie. They have an intense perfume that really seems to infuse the house, but it's not overpowering.

  • Reply rebecca September 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    you don't love making your whole building smell like fish?! our downstairs neighbors LOVE some brussel sprouts, which essentially smell like garbage when boiled. maybe i clue them into this tip.

  • Reply wind*up*bird* September 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Oh, the love of seafood in a vent-free kitchen. This is my nearly free, you may have this on hand, quick fix: when you use lemons for fancy drinks (or otherwise) freeze the discarded peels until it's seafood cooking time. I add them to a small pot with: 2 cinnamon sticks,a few cloves, some hulled cardamom pods, and boil whilst cooking. It masks fairly well, reminds me of autumn, and the remainder can be refrozen until the next seafood dinner 🙂

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic September 20, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I like your ideas for burning candles and burning that paper. I wish I could try it, but I have a very sensitive smoke detector; even when I am frying something on the stove the detector immediately goes off. I usually just use Febreze.

  • Reply Anonymous September 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I just burn a candle from Yankee Candle company. I keep a big one on the stove and it gets rid of the cooking smell while making the apartment smell good.

  • Reply Vanessa {Vanilla and Rose} October 2, 2012 at 3:06 am

    I would have never thought of this! I say cook away and deal with the possible smell later!

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