Gallery: Behind the Scenes in Nick's Home Kitchen

  • The Kitchen

    The kitchen is kind of tucked away in the back of the condo, which isn't ideal. I'd love to tear down the wall, but that's where the water heater and furnace are located. Fortunately, the kitchen is decently sized and has lots of counter space. Oh, and that's Clinton wondering what the hell I'm doing. He doesn't hang out much in the kitchen, but he does like to lick the dirty dishes as I'm putting them in the dishwasher, which I realize is disgusting, but he's a dog.

    Hanging Basket

    I have to credit Blake Royer with this one. He had a basket hanging in his kitchen, and the moment I saw it I knew I had to have one, too. For awhile I worried about loading it down with too much stuff, but it's always up to the job. To the right and left are awesome hot dog prints by our own, Hawk Krall. I want more, but these will do for now.

    Ikea as Far as the Eye Can See

    I used to have an awesome chop block, but since I have so much counter space, I never really used it. And since storage is the name of the game, especially with a baby, I had to get rid of it in favor of Ikea everything. This bookshelf mostly houses cookbooks, which is probably more than any one human needs to survive. I just have a hard time parting with them.


    As I've already mentioned, I used to have a cool liquor cart, which I could roll around if I so wanted. But babies love shiny glass objects, so it had to go. Now my bottles just sit here, which is not ideal. I used to have a much bigger selection, but that pastime has become less essential over the past year. I do like to keep a few bottles of bitters around, which I often just mix with soda water.

    Booze Accessories

    Over the years I've accumulated some decent bar utensils. I have a flask, too, though I don't think I've ever used it. But I have one just in case. The check features the recipe for the Fitzgerald, which a bartender at Scofflaw once gave me.

    The Other End

    I used to keep most of these items on the counter, but in a fit of cleaning, I banished everything from the counter, so here they stay. I'm a big fan of my stone molcajete, which is so much heavier than it looks.

    The Clear Counter

    This makes me so happy. I'm an impulsive cleaner. My wife is one of those crazy people who simply picks up after herself. On the other hand, I usually wait until things get completely out of hand, and then I go crazy and spend a whole day cleaning a rearranging until everything is perfect. A few weeks ago I was so angry with myself I declared that nothing, save salt and pepper, will be left on the counter at the end of the day, so that I'd force myself to keep things tidy. This drives my wife absolutely bonkers, but I'm currently winning this argument. Doesn't it look good? Won't you tell me so in the comments so I use them against her?


    I suppose I'm a Wusthof knife guy. I don't have anything against Japanese knives, I just ended up with Wusthof and got used to them over the years. The cleaver in the middle was actually a gift from the Serious Eats office when I got married.


    I have more spices than I probably should. The spice rack really helped at first, but my stock quickly overwhelmed the rack, and now spices are kind of everywhere. You'll see more in a bit.



    I know this looks a little unwieldily, but the drawer on the left is actually a huge step forward for me. It used to be so full, I often had a hard time closing it. Plus, I had another, much bigger, drawer that had other tools. One day I got so frustrated I tossed everything into a large box, and only took things out that I actually needed. If I used it, it went back in the drawer. I probably copied this idea from a Real Simple article, but whatever.

    Food Cabinet

    I don't have separate pantry, so cabinet space is limited. I realize this just looks like chaos, and it mostly is, but I have tried to contain it. At one point, I bought a bunch of containers, and that did help. But it has slowly gotten messy. I, of course, know where everything is, but I can see how someone could look in here and not have a clue what is going on. Notice there is a whole bin of spices on the top left.

    Down Below

    I used to keep all the pots on my chop block, but I eventually had to clear out space in this cabinet. There's also a collection of odds and ends, including my broken burr grinder, pasta maker, wire mesh screens, and overflow ramen packets (I like ramen).

    More Stuff

    Up front are a bunch of bowls, which I use often. But there is also lots of room to the right, and that's where I throw all the stuff I don't know what else to do with. I couldn't tell you what's back there.

    The Oven

    This poor guy has been through a lot, but he still gets the job done. Note the missing button by the clock. It's an essential button for the timer, and it still works. But it did shock me the last time I touched it, so I'm a little worried about it.

    The Fridge

    My fridge is slowly filling up with pictures of babies. I guess that's what happens when you have a kid. The wok is on top of the fridge because I couldn't figure where else to put it. It's one of those last pieces of the puzzle, and it drives me crazy.

    The Freezer

    This one is completely out of control. Some day I will conquer this, but first I have to get up enough courage. I realize I have a bunch of ice trays, but I always forget to empty them. Plus, I also use them to freeze chicken stock in cubes.

    Chicken Rice

    I love Hainanese chicken rice. For the past three attempts, I've been reusing the same liquid to poach the chicken. I think I got the idea while watching the Singapore episode of No Reservations where a hawker kept reusing the same liquid to cook all his chickens. Since I only make the dish once a month or so, I have to freeze it, which is a bit fussy, but I'm pretty happy with the results. Some of it gets used each time to cook the rice, but the base has gotten noticeably more intense and darker.

    Inside the Fridge

    Oh, man. As I've mentioned, I like to wait until things get slightly out of hand and then do a big clean. This fridge is definitely close to the edge, which is really embarrassing. First of all, let me apologize for the Pepsi. It's probably been years since I had one, but I ordered a pizza, and I got one for free. I couldn't just throw it out, could I? So that explains that. Second, about the bottle of Barefoot. I like good wine, I promise I do, but our corner store doesn't exactly have the largest selection, and we just needed something to drink, and it's cheap and inoffensive. And I wouldn't drink that bottle of milk on the second shelf—that's for the baby. If you're wondering, the blue tupperware on the bottom shelf is full of cheese sauce. But did you notice the vast array of Asian condiments, or the local butter wrapped up in paper? Of course not. You're still thinking about the Pepsi.

    The Mantle

    These are mostly some things I've picked up while traveling. The green bowl is from Oaxaca, Mexico, while the utensils and mugs are both from Thailand. The tiki glass in the middle is actually a local item. It features the mug of Paul McGee, who runs the excellent new tiki bar, Three Dots and a Dash, in River North. But he used to be the bartender at The Whistler in Logan Square, which was the only place I could have ever been considered a regular.