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Equipping a Minimalist Kitchen

The kitchen is a prime target for clutter.  With companies inventing a gadget for every little thing, anything that can make cooking a little easier.  In the end we find our kitchens filled with gadgets, multi-function counter top appliances and it all adds up to a whole lot of clutter.  Some time ago I realized one thing about all these things in my kitchen: they don’t add up to better food on the plate.  It was in that realization that it became clear to me, what really mattered in cooking was the initial ingredients and technique, very little relied upon the tools.

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With this realization I began to declutter my kitchen using my tried and true box method (read about how to do it here).  As I needed things, I would pull them out and after a few months I still had 80% of my kitchen things still left in the box.  During this time I brushed up on some of my knife techniques, read up on how professional chefs cook, and focused on simple.

A few things to keep in mind.  I have this setup for how and what I like to cook, I don’t like to bake much, I’m mainly stove top or grill.  I also am cooking for myself, maybe one other person.

In the end, I was able to whittle down to a basic set of tools in my kitchen all the while increasing the quality of my cooking/food.  So what does a minimalist kitchen have in it?  Glad you asked…

Two knives and one steel

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I see this all the time, you walk into someone’s kitchen and there is a giant knife block that contains 10-15 knives.  If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t know what half them are for and we only use a few on a regular basis.  Most of your work will be done with your 8 inch chef knife, it’s the workhorse.  Next to that I have a 3 to 4 inch parring knife for smaller, more delicate tasks.  Finally a honing steel, this helps re-align your edge between sharpening because as you use a knife, the fine edge actually rolls over, creating a less sharp edge; using a honing steel quickly un-rolls that edge and gives you back your edge.

If you ask me, put your money here.  A check knife in the $100-$200 price range with a full tang and good steel is something that is worth spending money on.  A paring knife for $50-$100 and a honing steel for $25-$50.

Two rubber spatulas and two tongs

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These two items are pretty much my go-tos when it comes to actually cooking on heat.  It keep two of each so that if I have to make things that can’t mix, I’m covered, or if I’m doing something with meat, to reduce risk of salmonella.  My tongs are a rigid silicone tipped, so they can be used on coated pans and on the grill.

One metal spatula

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I use this for grilling or if I ever use cast iron. This is a heavy duty metal spatula that is rigid enough to scrape, but flexible enough to wiggle under a piece of meat.  I’d use this a lot more if I was a big fan of cast iron, it’s not my favorite, but if you cook a lot with cast iron, this will be a go to.

Break apart scissors

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Sometimes scissors are the right too for the job, including cutting up chicken.  A solid pair of scissors that come apart so you can thoroughly clean the joint is very handy.  These can play double duty for a bottle opener.

Pot strainer (or colander)

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I use this style of a pot strainer, its very small, compact and doesn’t take up a lot of space.  If I was more of a pasta guy, I’d upgrade to a colander, but this suits my needs.

Pots and pans

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This is the pot set that I choose for my kitchen, it was the second place that I sunk most of my money into.  When you live a minimalist life, it makes sense to spend some real money on the few things you have.  For this set, I did my research and ignored prices, in the end this set cost me $600.  The large soup pot and the high side saute pan I use very rarely, but they are worth keeping on hand.  While I still keep these two, I don’t actually keep them in my kitchen of my tiny house, I keep them in my bulk storage area.  90% of what I cook is done in the small fry pan, the large fry pan or the medium sized pot.

Cutting Board

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The last thing on my list is a cutting board, I prefer a butcher block style myself.

Your Turn!

  • What else would you add?
  • What is your favorite kitchen item?

Ten Essential Kitchen Solutions for Tiny Houses

We demand a lot from our kitchens, no matter what size house they’re in. This fact is magnified even more in a tiny house, where storage and surface area are at a premium. But if you live in a tiny house, you don’t have to give up your cooking dreams just yet! Luckily for you, the Internet is a magical place with space-saving solutions to be found left and right. I gathered my ten favorite kitchen solutions in this post to share with you today. Links and images will take you to the web pages where you can buy each item. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Slide-out Trash & Recycling Bins

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I know that I always forget to add in space for trash and recycling when I’m drawing up tiny house plans. It’s so easy to forget! Take advantage of the full depth of counter space in your tiny house kitchen with a slide-out cabinet for your bins.

2. A Hanging Rail for Utensils6f28eac04d33428d14818b984029f083

Everyone has a crock on their kitchen counter stuffed with cooking utensils – save some real estate by hanging them from a rail with S-hooks. The Grundtal, while being a great name for a disgruntled bridge troll, is actually a rail system from IKEA that is affordable and very popular in tiny houses.

3. A Hanging Dish Rack and Paper Towel Holder

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Continuing the vertical storage theme, we have a wall-mounted dish rack and matching paper towel holder. The dish rack can hang right above your sink for drainage, and is pretty enough to store your plates and cups on all the time. Plus, I’m of the mindset that a touch of gold here and there makes any space better.

4. Over-the-Sink Cutting Board with Strainer

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I think this one is just so cool. Not only does the cutting board extend your counter space over your sink, you can slide your vegetables right into the strainer for rinsing. Genius!

5. Vertical Dividers for Flat Items

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Even if you rarely cook, you know the pure misery of stacking and re-stacking cookie sheets, muffin tins, or cutting boards to find the one you want. Storing them on their sides with vertical dividers solves this problem handily. The photo above shows how you can use simple tension curtain rods as dividers, or you can buy a divider made just for this purpose.

6. Square-Shaped Storage Containers

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Circular objects are a space-saver’s nightmare. These square-based storage containers, however, come in all sizes and stack up neatly in your pantry or fridge. Very important if your fridge is particularly tiny!

7. Collapsible Silicone Measuring Cups and Spoons

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I have these in my own kitchen and I love them. I can store four measuring cups on their sides in my drawer in about 2 inches of space. They’re easy to clean too. There are all sorts of other gadgets that collapse as well – colanders, washing buckets, top hats, and more. Okay, so no one really needs a collapsible top hat in their kitchen.

(Note: it appears that the cups pictured above are discontinued, so the link will take you to a similar item you can buy from Amazon.)

8. Adjustable Measuring Spoons

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I personally like having multiple measuring cups and spoons if I’m measuring several ingredients at once. But if you think having too many gadgets is a hassle, this adjustable measuring spoon could be just the thing for you. Three of these can take the place of eight or nine measuring cups and spoons, which means more space saved in your kitchen drawers.

9. Wire Under-Shelf Baskets

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In your kitchen cabinets, there’s often a lot of unused space hovering above your stacked dishes and mugs. Put it to good use and avoid precariously-stacked cups, plates, and bowls with an under-shelf basket. You can find these at the Container Store and other organization specialty stores.

10. Magnetic Spice Containers

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These are the best. You can decant your spices into these magnetic tins, and eliminate the mismatched jumble of spice jars cluttering up your pantry. The transparent lids also show you when it’s time to buy more turmeric or tarragon. Line these up on the front of your tiny fridge to put some otherwise unused space to work!

Your Turn!

  • What are some of your favorite space-saving kitchen gadgets?
  • What’s the one kitchen essential that you can’t live without?

Subversive Garden

This is an amazing video on the state of food and where we need to go with it.

Aquaponics 101

Recently I have been talking with several folks here in Charlotte about aquaponics.  It is essentially a production method to grow fish in an artificial setting, the benefit being you can raise the fish just about anywhere.  Today I found this video giving some of the basics, so check it out.  The one thing that I would like to figure out is how to reduce or cut out entirely any on going consumables from the process.  I know you can grow loofahs, perhaps this would be a way to reduce the ongoing impact of the system.

Farm Shop

This is a pretty neat store that has taken on the task of converting an old shop into a food producing business, with a cafe and meeting room.  All centered around food and connecting the community.

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