provident living: creating a minimalist kitchen

04.09 531

We just returned from a wonderful break at my parents.  It took me most of the break to get used to cooking in my mother’s fairly new and ultra lovely kitchen.  It was nice to return and cook in a familiar place where I can find my favorite kitchen tools.

Vacationing is a great time to realize what stuff we really need and use daily.  Even before we left I knew I was ready for another home detox…being away gave me even more motivation.

I just read an interesting article at natural home magazine.com, where they interviewed one of my favorite current architects, Sarah Susanka, and Sherri Brooks Vinton, former governor of Slow Food USA and director of the Westport, Connecticut, farmer’s market.  Both ladies offered suggestions to Declutter your kitchen.  Check out the article to read Sarah & Sherri’s must haves and what they can do without.

Sarah explained that what most people want is a larger kitchen,

The attitude is, the bigger the better—and that’s absolutely not the best kitchen to be cooking in.  There’s an appropriate scale, and having more and more cabinets and space between countertops can make it feel unusable.

As I traipsed around my mothers kitchen, chasing around the extremely large island, actually, I found I was running in circles and that none of the essentials were easily accessible.  If my goal is a work out in the kitchen…this is a great way to go.  But I know it works for my mom.  I just need to create a kitchen that works best for me.  The key is to find out what you really use and throw out or giveaway everything else.

So here are my must haves and future dreams:

  1. a gas oven range (I’ve lost two of my favorite le creuset  to our flat electric)
  2. an accessible and working pantry
  3. cast iron pans and griddle (we use them practically every meal)
  4. slow cooker (a must for us all year round for tender meat and the perfect beans)
  5. blendtec (we’ve agreed that it is our best purchase)
  6. sharp knives, wooden & stainless steel kitchen tools (that we use frequently…the rest have been donated to the “kiddo kitchen” where they get used nearly every day).
  7. drying rack
  8. metal mixing bowls
  9. le creuset (I can make polenta, soup, stir fry…everything that can’t fit in my largest cast iron pan)
  10. recycle center
  11. compost pot
  12. my artisan mixer (it’s last because I can do most of it by hand, but it is so cute sitting there on the kitchen counter…it never feels like clutter) {too much Sarah? :)}
And here are a couple things we have found we can do without:
  1. the microwave (yes, I said it…we found that we were only using it to soften our butter)
  2. the dishwasher (I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the dishwasher, and there were never enough clean dishes until we started doing them by hand.  The kiddos love to help and I love knowing that everything is clean!)
Make your own list, find out what works best in your kitchen and see what you can do without.  By no means is there a good or bad list, the goal is to find out what you and your family use most and how to simplify and optimize your culinary experience!
And let me know…I’m dying to hear what is on your list!

With that said, I have a couple items that are in great shape if anyone needs or would like them: 

  1. an Oster breadmaker
  2. a roaster oven
If you’d like either and are local, let me know and they are yours!  

9 thoughts on “provident living: creating a minimalist kitchen

  1. My two busiest kitchen tools: 3-quart, cast iron dutch oven and Vita Mix blender. Both get used daily, unless it’s a “salad day” (90′ temperatures outside when I don’t turn on the stove.) After that it’s the”kitchen wand” aka wooden spoon.

    • Oops – forgot to add that I just donated my seldom-used microwave after completing my own kitchen down-sizing brought on by an exploded can of black olives. After emptying the shelves to clean up the mess, I decided not to put all that stuff back in there … and just kept deleting what wasn’t needed/used.

      • That’s wonderful Bonnie! I need to remember that sometimes big messes actually lend to a cleaner, more organized and more efficient area later 🙂

    • Vita Mix are fabulous…we were so close to buying one till we saw a blendtec…our friends make incredible ice cream in their’s. My husband would luv a dutch oven to cook inside and out…do you cook yours outside too?

      • Re: out door cooking with my DO … Nope, I’m not the outdoorsy type, but I braise, bake, stew ‘n brew, & steam with it on my stove.

      • Hi Katrina – No, I don’t use the DO outdoors bcs I’m not the outdoorsy type & I’d probably fall into the fire.

  2. Hi again
    I never did mention what’s otherwise useful to me. during the down size I kept my larger pots’n pans that were the same diameter so their lids and parts are interchangeable. My steaming pan fits both the skillet and DO. My stock pot is in the to-go box since I can use the DO. My old, scarred pizza pan serves as a baking pan. I don’t bake cakes but if I had to, I’d use the skillet. Those tempting deserts are best left at the store. I have a few recipes for making one cookie or cake in a tiny ramekin. Honestly, it’s the only safe way.
    As I was reorganizing ( never ending) one of the bains of my existence was the pet food. The four footed ones outnumber the two-leggeds, and we buy by the case. The canister of crunchies just didn’t fit anywhere until I had the inspiration to contain a mountain of tiny cans in a laundry basket under the counter & make room. Happy dance. Have you some sudden inspirations to share?

    • Hi Bonnie 🙂

      I luv your pet food solution. I need to do that with some of the kiddo snacks. They would love it. Right now they climb on top of the large bags of rye and rice to get into their favorite spots of the very small pantry. The pizza pan is one of my favorite bread pans. Another i’m discovering is my baking dish…I made Nigella’s chocolate loaf in their last and I didn’t have to worry about it spilling over. Now I form the bread and place it in the baking dish and then if it grows out instead of up I am satisfied. 🙂 Last week I found a pie safe on ksl classifieds (are you local?…if not it’s like a local craigslist) Anyways, the pie safe was only $85, lightweight and not too deep…I’ll have to take a photo so I can write about it. We’re all charmed. I’ve been sneaking food where the pots and pans should go now that I’ve downsized so many things. A place for everything we use each day: beautiful.

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