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Sitting or Standing in the Kitchen?

Do you do all of your home cooking on your feet?

One of my favorite memories from growing up was of family members sitting around the kitchen table chatting while preparing food, mostly vegetables or baked goods, to be cooked.
My kitchen's too small to even think about trying to fit a table in, so there is no sitting while preparing food. Sometimes I really miss being able to sit while prepping.

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  1. Standing, unless barbecuing. In which case I'll sit on a stump and drink a beer or four.

    1. In the kitchen--almost always standing. Even though I have a bad knee, standing seems to be the way to go.

      Lots of summertime sitting on the porch, however--shelling peas, breaking beans, husking corn.

      1. my table is for eating.

        food prep is messy. i prep and stand at the counter, near the sink and the trash. i also wash my hands about a million times while i cook and couldn't do that if i was a few feet away.

        1. Standing, and because of that, I refused to put ceramic tile or porcelain on the floor. Instead, I went with a resilient surface that is commercial grade...looks apparently like cork and feels apparently like cork, but without the hassles of cork (everyone who comes in says I LOVE your floor so COMFORTABLE but you know I really HATE cork...LOLOL).
          However, DH DOES love to help with prep, and that's why I love my island.
          Perhaps the island with a sit in bar area has replaced the kitchen table in alot of kitchens?

          4 Replies
          1. re: freia

            Freia: I'm in the same boat...what specifically is the resilient surface that you chose?

            1. re: pine time

              Mannington Adura Magma, which is now called "sicilian stone" in the residential line, The industrial grade which is what the side of the box in my garage says. I'm not sure if it is made in this thickness anymore as we got this around 6 years ago. If you look on the site this is alluded to as the "colorway name" for Sicilian Stone is apparently "magma" but if you go to the Mannington Commercial site you won't find it there anymore.


              The advantages that we found were that the tile is quite thick but very strong due to a titanium layer (making it a bugger to cut LOL), and that it could be butt joined as the tiles were rectified, and that the way it was installed, if we drop something on the floor and the floor for whatever reason is gouged (aka a knife falls the wrong way), we can use a heat gun to lift up the tile and put a new tile directly down in its place. No fuss, no muss. And its cushy underfoot, too, making people think we have cork whereas in reality, it is a resilient tile.

              1. re: freia

                Wow--miracle stuff! Thanks for the detailed info.

          2. I do most prepping standing up, but if I have a lot of peppers or green beans to clean, I'll sit on the couch that acts as a "banguette" at our kitchen table. Very comfy.

            1. Stand. I can't even imagine how I could sit...too much moving around!

              1. I sit at the snack bar for two chores only: when I peel shrimp or clean off a turkey or chicken carcass to make stock. Otherwise I stand at the island by the window for the good lighting and the nice view.

                1. Standing, except when I am cleaning green bean (or yellow) bean sprouts.

                  1. OK, I'll be the exception here. Since becoming handicapped I have trouble standing for any length of time. I don't so much sit as perch on the edge of a stool. I have a small work area and most everything is within reach. DW also helps with some of the schlepping.

                    1. Sitting as much as possible, since I have mobility problems. I put everything I need for prep onto a tray and take it to the table (in another room). A mis-en-place approach helps a lot when one needs to minimize standing time.

                      1. I sit when I de-stem a bunch of flat leaf parsley for my chimichurri. It takes 28 minutes, and I play my 28 minute chimichurri CD - Natalie Merchant, Sinead O'Connor, Norah Jones, Kasey Chambers, Regina Spektor. Who says cooking isn't fun? Oh, and that includes a glass of wine.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          lol, how many pounds of parsley is that?

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Gee, I don't know. But it is usually around 2150 leaves.

                          2. re: Veggo

                            Ever think of just chopping off the stems up to where the leaves start and using the tender stems? It'll save you time. :)

                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              I have been saving time my whole life. This is how I enjoy spending some of it!

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I'm thinking that the music and wine is more important than the perfection of the parsley...and that's perfectly honorable.

                            2. Unless I'm doing something very time- and labor-intensive (cleaning green beans, making Christmas cookies (scoop, roll into a ball, roll in sugar, put on cookie sheet, press with a glass...there's a reason I only putz with that recipe once a year!) I stand.

                              But then again -- unless I'm doing something time- and labor-intensive, I've usually got a full meal going, so I'm multitasking between the main course, the salad, and the sides (we tend to not eat dessert at our house) -- so sitting still really isn't much of an option.

                              1. Oh I forgot, I sit down to make perogies and cabbage rolls. I guess chopping/prepping and putting a meal together is done standing up. Tedious tasks that take hours get the sit down treatment LOL. As I make 12-15 dozen perogies at a go, and its an afternoon process, I sit down to actually make them.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: freia

                                  tamales - ugh - I actually had to stand up and go walk around because my legs were going to sleep.

                                  (I made 150 appetizer-size -- two bites -- tamales for a blowout birthday party years ago. The native-born Texans at the party raved about them and took home copies of the recipe -- and I will never, ever make tamales again.)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Ugggh...no wonder your legs were falling asleep! I'll bet the tamales were AMAZING, but you gotta look at effort to reward ratio!

                                    1. re: freia

                                      that would be where the "never ever" part comes in. They were good, and I learned a LOT making them, including not to be stupid enough to do that again!

                                      It was my first attempt at catering a party by myself -- it was about 40 people, and I laid out a pretty impressive (if I dare say so myself) buffet, complete with rented chafing dishes -- tamales, chips and homemade salsa, steak and chicken fajitas, and individual caramel flans (took me 2 days to do the flans...)

                                      Upshot is that yes, I'd do pretty well as a caterer -- but I prefer to not go to that exhaustive level of effort if it's my party, simply because I threw a fabulous party that people talked about for years -- but I hardly talked to anyone, because I was running my ass off the whole party.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        And although it is fulfilling to throw a great party, being run off one's feet is certainly no fun. Props your way for putting it all out there, I'll bet it was AMAZING. And a learning experience to boot --- its a hard living, catering is.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Your tamales sound like trhey were spectacular. When I first started experimenting with cooking I found a recipe for "south of the border wontons". Not up to a proper tamal-making amount of time spent, but I spent hours and hours making enough for the party I was having, and like you, learned a lot and they were really good, but hell- they were gone in ten minutes, if that!

                                  2. Standing while cooking.
                                    Sitting (in front of TV, or outside in summer) while shelling peas, and other stuff like that.

                                    1. I always stand unless someone else is cooking and im talking to them.

                                      1. Always standing unless hand-decorating cookies.

                                        racer x: I'd be interested to know what your ethnic background is. Your post got me thinking and I can remember my Italian-American mother always sitting at the table when cutting up vegetables for soups, etc. She didn't chop the way most people do on a cutting board; she held the knife in her right hand and the vegetable in her left and cut up the vegetables with a paring knife using her right thumb to cut against. Although I never got to meet my grandmothers (they passed away before I was born) I bet they also did this. Funny, but whenever I picture my mother prepping food, it is always at the table. Thanks for making me think about this!

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          Sweet story, ttoommyy. (Good thing that there wasn't anyone around to criticize her "knife skills" then either, lol.) :)

                                          I will sit at table or living room coffee table (if want to see TV) while slicing/chopping lbs of raw veggies and fruits for the week.

                                          For the kitchen, I bought firm rubberized foam mats (nothing expensive, just interlocking tiles from Target that I cut down) and stack a couple in my cutting zone as needed. Saves my feet.

                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                            My Irish-German-American mother cut vegetables the same way, and I did up to only a few years ago. Maybe it's a European thing?

                                            1. re: MandalayVA

                                              could be -- my German-Swiss grandma taught me the same thing -- and I still do it unless I've got a mountain of veg to chop -- then the 8-1/2" chef's comes out.

                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                              African-American, ttoommyy. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother's older siblings (all born back when Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Teddy Roosevelt were president) when I was a kid. They had spent their childhoods in the Deep South, but lived all of their adult years in Chicago.

                                              1. re: racer x

                                                I'm sure you learned a lot from them, racer x. I'm a bit envious. 3 out o 4 of my grandparents were gone before I was born.

                                                Seems like a lot of food prep was done at the table up to a certain generation and then it all moved to the kitchen counter. I'm suspecting this may have to do with the way modern kitchens are set up and the inability to have an actual table in the smaller ones. When I was growing up, the kitchen was the largest room in our apartment and we had a big table in it. I really don't even know if there was any counter space at all. Also, we had no dining room. We always ate in the kitchen.

                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                  Unfortunately, being a kid (and a boy), although I watched a lot of food being cooked, and helped with some of the easier prep tasks, I never really paid enough attention to have actually learned how to cook well from them, except for the easiest dishes. I was always good at the eating, but not at the cooking. Now I really regret those missed opportunities.

                                                  There was a kitchen table for prepping and for eating casual meals. Fancy meals were always served in the dining room, with its huge dining table.

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    Ah, ttoommyy, you just reminded me: they didn't have counterspace! So they didn't really have an option other than to prep at the table. They had a large pantry, two refrigerators, two stoves (later, just one huge stove with two ovens), and a sink, but no countertops.

                                                2. re: ttoommyy

                                                  My great-aunts did that too. The only time the cutting board came out, as I recall, was for going at big hunks of meat with a cleaver.

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    Same here, ttoommmmyy, that's how I was taught to use a paring knife. Interesting.

                                                  2. I sit. As I'm 6-4, I can sit in front of the stove, counter, or the sink to cook, prep, or wash. No problems reaching. Just a pain to get up and down if I forget something before I start.

                                                    1. I've always found myself standing but spending long hours in a day to prepare a special meal of many items or even a regular meal for hubby and I, it's hard with my really ailing back.
                                                      so say I have to peel HBE for deviled eggs and there are 24 eggs, I put up a stool and sit there at the long bar or pul out bread board and work.

                                                      Our kitchen floor is 23 years old and a really dumb decision on our part. It's all thick tile and a bear to clean but worse to stand on for any length of time. Next house I'm thinking cork

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                        Have you tried one of those gel mats il Divo? It helps me a lot. Not only do I suffer with sciatica sometimes, I also have flat feet. I had a dinner party last weekend and cooked for two days. That gel mat saved me from a lot of pain. I still felt a twinge or two in my back now and then and my feet ached a bit, but it was nowhere near how I felt before without the mat.

                                                      2. Stand unless I am tending something on the stove with little other involvement. Usually stirring risotto is the only thing on that list. I will shell peas on the couch or porch.

                                                        1. Stand but on gel mats as we have ceramic tile. We have several mats in the kitchen - in front of the sinks, oven and island. Thankfully our island is huge so I have a lot of room to spread things out which makes me more comfortable. I need my room!

                                                          1. I know this is an old thread but I happened to be asking myself the same question as I uncharacteristically pulled up a chair to peel pearl onions today. Usually I stand all the time. But in a new home with NO counter space, my farmers table seemed like the perfect place to attack such a mountainous task. My homes growing up (plural because cousins, grandparents, and friends places count!) were always a blend of both sittint and standing, depending on the size of the crowd. When there were many cooks or many dishes, there was always someone sitting doing the major veggie prepping. Or the matriarch would sit at the head of the kitchen table to "help out" while the youngin's bustled around the kitchen. My favorite memory EVER was when my mom came and sat at MY kitchen table for the first time. I don't think I ever was as nervous as that moment in my life. Today cooking is not as traditional. My friends can, barely cook, so I spend a lot of time shooing them out of the kitchen because their "helping" is primarily taste testing evrything they can without pulling back a nubb! LOL!

                                                            1. No third choice: dancing? No one else plays music and moves in the kitchen while preparing food?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                Well, CHA!!!! But that is usually one of those private moments so no one sees me "playing" with knives!

                                                                1. re: FyreRayne

                                                                  Funny that! I find my cooking and baking results are much better when music inspires me. Hard to stand still but I gotta dance!

                                                                2. re: HillJ

                                                                  there's a whole thread around here somewhere of what music is the soundtrack to the kitchen. Fun.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Oh there's quite a few threads like that and I also recall participating.