how to setup a minimalist kitchen part 1 – things to avoid

honey semifreddo-4

I’ve been meaning to write a post about setting up a minimalist kitchen for a while now – actually since I stayed in my fabulous little one bedder in Barcelona last December. But something has been holding me back. The other day I realised what it was. You see, I need to come clean – while I fully embrace the principles of minimalism and have challenged myself to not buy any new stuff for the whole year of 2010, I haven’t been able to actually get rid of all the non-essentials in my kitchen (or my shoe collection for that mattter).

I have had a few clean outs and even sold a few things on ebay but there are still plenty of items I haven’t used in the last month that I have no intention of parting with – yet.

So as the first step in my guide to setting up a minimalist kitchen I thought I’d share the things I have in my kitchen that aren’t minimalist and a list of things to avoid. Next week we’ll get into what I would include in a true minimalist kitchen setup if I was kitting out a kitchen from scratch.

Before I get into list mode, remember that I know that kitchen equipment is a very personal thing. This is just my guideline and its based on the things that I like to cook. So please take this as a starting point and adjust to suit your own preferences.

things to avoid in a minimalist kitchen

1. icecream machine
It’s no secret that I LOVE my icecream machine. But since it’s on its last legs and it’s pretty un-minimalist to own one, I’ve been looking around for good frozen desserts that deliver on the heavenly creamy texture of icecream but don’t need special equipment. Still not ready to part ways but one step closer with my machine-free honey ice cream recipe below.

2. microwave oven
I’ve gone with and without a microwave over the years and I’ve decided that while it can be helpful for defrosting things at the last moment and possibly melting chocolate, that’s not enough to justify all the space they take up. I haven’t had a microwave since November ’08 and haven’t missed it one bit. But if you’re using yours every day by all means give it pride of place.

3. stand mixer
A shiny, red kitchen aid mixer used to be high on my kitchen wish-list. Then I inherited my grandmothers gorgeous, retro sunbeam mix master which only runs at one speed – full blast. I haven’t been able to part with it for sentimental reasons but I am finding myself using it less and less. If I want to whisk egg whites or whip some cream these days I use a simple old whisk and think of it as a chance to give the old arm muscles a work out. For creaming butter and sugar I use the food processor which seems to work fine but probably does lack a little in aeration. If you’re a die hard baker or pavlova maker a stand mixer might be worth the cost and the space but for the rest of us mortals it’s not.

4. knife sets
While they can look totally styling, and it can be handy to have a couple of good knives in the house if there’s more than one of you cooking at a time – there aren’t many people that actually need 7 knives of varying sizes. Save your money and invest in one excellent sharp cooks knife for each cook in the house and spend the rest on a good sharpening system – like the furi fingers. If you’re a fan of rustic sourdough loaves like me, a bread knife is the only other one you’ll need.
This is one area where I’ve always been a minimalist.

5. bread machine
This trend should be well and truly past but I can’t imagine there are many people out there who actually get much use out of their bread machine. If you have an oven and a pair of strong arms to knead you have everything you need to make excellent bread – and it won’t be in a weird square tall loaf shape.

6. rice cooker
OK OK. If you’re cooking rice once a week or more – skip this point. But for the rest of us what’s wrong with a good saucepan with a lid.

7. pasta maker
I am guilty here. I go through phases making pasta but it’s never more than once every few months. If I had my time again I’d be struggling to justify my shiny, Italian designed pasta machine. Fresh pasta is pretty readily available to buy now and it’s not that expensive. If I feel like making ravioli I could always use chinese wanton wrappers or cut down some fresh store bought lasagne sheets to size. And I I really wanted to channel my inner Italian nonna – I could always use a rolling pin or make something designed to be formed by hand like these cute orrechette

8. toasted sandwich press
When I was in college I had a little breville toasted sandwich maker in my room and pretty much used it every day. I found that there was usually something in the uni dining room that could be half edible if put between a couple of slices of bread and given a whirl in the ‘jaffel’ maker. Roasted vegetables were a big favourite. I’d also use it to ‘fry’ an egg on the odd occasion. Since then I’ve hardly used one. If I want to make a toasted sandwich I employ my trusty frying pan and cook one side at a time, squashing down as I go. I find that toasted sandwiches may take a little longer this way but are just as delicious – even a little crispier because the steam is escaping as you cook – not being trapped.

9. any other ‘single purpose’ small appliances
Juicers, deep fryers, hot dog warmers, popcorn makers, milkshake machines, chocolate ‘fountains’. No explanation needed really.

10. wok
I have a lovely heavy cast iron wok that my mum gave me years and years ago that I hardly use but keep it for sentimental reasons. I tend to do my stir frying in my large frying pan because I find the heat transfer better than the wok – I don’t have one of those flashy gas wok burner thingies. Of course if you are cooking lots of Asian food a wok might be a better option than a frying pan.

11. griddle pan
Before I had a BBQ I got myself one of those cool cast iron pans with the ridges in the middle. I know some people swear by them but I always found myself with a kitchen full of smoke waving a tea towel in front of the the fire detector. I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the griddle pan ever again once I had the BBQ option. Sold the poor thing on ebay last year. Great decision.

12. saucepan sets
I have a 3 saucepan set with a matching pasta cooker sized pot and a larger stockpot. Now, I like to make stock and often cook for a huge crowd so can justify the stock pot. I love my pasta pot and it is easily the most used saucepan in the kitchen. But the 3 saucepan set – I only really need one of them – probably the middle child – but it feels weird to be splitting up a family like that. Save yourself the guilt and buy your pots individually.

13. cake tins and tart shells in every shape and size
Along with little ramekin-like pots, and white plates and wine glasses this is probably my weakest link in the minimalist kitchen. I’ll come back to you next week with my thoughts on what a minimalist baker would need but for now I’ll share what I have – this could take a while – 1 large metal muffin tray, 1 large silicon muffin tray (hardly used), 1 cupcake tray (was my Mums), 1 large rectangular tart tin with removable base, 1 26cm round tart tin with removable base, 1 20cm deep tart tin with removable base, 1 round cake cooler, 1 rectangular cake cooler, 8 individual pie tins, 8 medium individual tart tins with removable bases, 16 small individual tart tins with removable bases, 1 20cm springfrom cake tin, 1 x 24cm springform cake tin, a pair of sponge tins, a set of square cake tins in small, medium and large, 1 long skinny loaf tin, 1 fat (actually it’s more big boned) loaf tin, I also have 3 flat baking trays, 2 round ‘piza’ trays and 2 metal high sided roasting trays along with a cast iron enamel le creuset roasting tray that is my latest love.

14. anything that is only to be used on ‘special’ occasions
I grew up with multiple dinner sets and crystal glasses that were only used on a handful of occasions. Life is too short people if it’s good enough for Christmas day it should be good enough for a random rainy Tuesday.

15. mortar & pestle
Call me a mad scientist but I love owning a mortar & pestle as much as I love saying ‘mortar’ and ‘pestle’. The truth is that it mostly holds the matches and doesn’t get used often – it probably averages out to once every two months or so. I might keep it while I ditch my spice grinder (see 17.) when you feel like a home made curry from scratch – there’s nothing as good as a hand bashed curry paste.

16. anything purely ornamental
Useful kitchen equimpent can be beautiful and decorative in its own right – I love my jar of stainless steel utensils sitting on the windowsill. But it’s a working display.

17. a coffee grinder for grinding spices
I know I have raved about the beauty of freshly roasted and ground spices and it’s true – they are more fragrant and flavoursome. But I can’ t remember the last time I roasted and ground my spices. Unless you’re a hardcore curry head I think it’s better to just buy quality preground spices in small amounts so that you’re buying fresh. A big fan of herbies.com.au.

18. toaster
Potentially controversial but I much prefer to toast my bread under the grill so I can toast one side for the warm toasty flavours and leave the other nice and soft. If you’re using your toaster everyday of course it deserves place in your kitchen.

19. expensive coffee machines
They always seem like a good idea at the time but most people I know go through their home barista phase and then realise that part of the joy of coffee is the ritual of going out and getting it made by a professional and their expensive machine sits gathering dust. Although if one lived in the country it would make sense. Which reminds me when I shared a house with an ex-barista in the Barossa years ago. He had the real deal machine and grinder that took up a heap of space but I did get quite addicted to my morning latte and didn’t mind it hogging my bench space at all.

20. oven mitts
Oven mitts are for sissys – use a tea towel.

21. single use utensils
Apple corer, egg frying rings, lemon juicer, nut cracker, strawberry dehuller (no- I didn’t fall for that one) there are thousand upon thousands of little kitchen gadgets that may make life a little easier every now and then but in the scheme of things aren’t worth the clutter.

22. electric carving knife
OK so It has come in handy, but since I’ve been keeping my cooks knife sharp, I’ve found that I usually couldn’t be bothered digging through the drawer to find the blades and the base and put it all together and just use the cooks knife to carve.

23. mandoline
OK I’m not about to throw out my v-slicer because I do use it frequently. But is it essential? definitely not – a sharp knife and a bit of patience will usually do just as good a job.

24. kitchen blowtorch
I LOVE that I have the ability to make a real creme brulee but to be honest I wish it had more power. If I could I’d swap it for a real blokey, full-strength blow torch that I could then use to brown meat and all sorts of things.

25. bamboo steamers
They were cheap. I’ve used them exactly twice since I picked them up in a pork bun steaming frenzy in 2003. I know, it’s time for them to go.

26. multiple sizes of wine glasses
Sure, it can be nicer to drink white wine from a smaller glass, or even go crazy with different shapes for different grape varieties – fun for a restaurant but not essential at home. I’m on the path to having a set of champagne flutes (just because I’m a big sparkling fan and drinking it out of normal wine glasses just isn’t the same) and a set of wine glasses that are on the bigger red wine side but I still have some stray white glasses but their days are numbered. I’m looking at a dozen of each because I sometimes have that many guests but you could just have enough for each wine drinking member of the household.

27. paella pans
They look so cute, but seriously, unless you are Spanish or desperately trying to become so, a large frying pan will do the trick.

28. tajine dishes
I do have a set of three terracotta tajines from Morocco. I did use them until the lid broke of the biggest one. Then I realised that the whole steam-swirling-in-the-conical-lid-and-condensing was a subtle difference I’m not sure I could detect. I now make my tajines in my Le Creuset dish and am happy to keep my tajines in the lounge room as a decoration.

honey semifreddo-2

[5 ingredients]
machine-free honey icecream

serves 6

If you’ve always been a bit disappointed by icy semifreddo and other machine-free frozen desserts I feel your pain. But trust me – even after sitting in the freezer for 24hours this baby is creamy, smooth, soft and seriously good – not an icicle in sight.

Delicious as a desert on it’s own, it would also be brilliant in all those places that icecream works so well – with hot chocolate pudding, apple crumble, bread and butter pudding. Yum. The only thing is that it is quite strongly honey flavoured which is great in most cases but could be a little overpowering as an accompaniment to something like a passionfruit souffle.

When I find a vanilla machine-free icecream that lives up to real icecream texture, i’ll ditch the machine. Until then – enjoy this little treat.

1/2C (180g or 6oz ) honey
300mL (1 1/4C) double (heavy) cream
300mL (1 1/4C) pouring (single) cream

Place honey in a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat until really runny. Remove from the heat. Stir though double cream until smooth.

Whisk cream until it starts to thicken and form soft peaks. Fold whipped cream through the honey mixture and place in a freezer proof container. Freeze until you’re ready to eat – give it at least 4 hours.

For individual portions line 1/2C capacity little glasses, ramekins, or cups with cling wrap and divide mixture between. Freeze for at least 3 hours.

chocolate mousse-2

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Still going well with my reading goal for the year. Have updates my Now Reading list – would love to hear any recommendations you have for both food and other books.

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{ 107 comments }

Marcia April 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

You lost me at bread machine. I think I could give up the rice cooker before the bread machine.

I mean, sure I could make bread the old fashioned way. But the bread machine means I go to bed and when I wake up, it’s done. Or I set it up before I go to work, and when I come home, it’s done. We love bread, and with two working parents and a kid…yeah. I think I could give up the crock pot before the bread machine.

I never use a stand mixer (but my hubby does), and I love the spice grinder for flax seeds…

only organic baby food April 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I don’t like to make anything myself but most like to eat first every new thing.

Jen April 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

Number 20 did me in – it should have read “Oven mitts are for clumsies”. I can’t remember how many times I burned myself using tea towels, until I finally caved and bought oven mitts.

Good list though!

Sunshine Conkey April 19, 2010 at 6:39 am

I live in dorm-style housing at the Grand Canyon National Park. I have “NO” kitchen at all…so whatever cookware people use in an oven or on a rangetop are un-needed by me.
I get to prepare my meals with a crockpot, rice cooker, juicer & microwave.

I do own 4 coffee-mugs though, but 1 of them is used to hold all my pens/markers

Erica Tribble April 20, 2010 at 6:05 am

I use the dough setting on my bread machine and bake it in the oven. I have two reasons for keeping the bread machine. 1. A coworker gave me the bread machine because she didn’t use it. 2. I have three small children so kneading dough for ten minutes is nearly impossible for me!!!
Thanks for the ice cream recipe I can’t wait to share that with my family.

Lau April 21, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I have to disagree with you on the coffee machine, but that’s because I am actually a barista. Also it has saved me sooo much money.

I used to cook so many things on my sandwich press but not so much now. It’s on its last legs as a result.

I have a popcorn maker and a pasta maker. Both hardly ever get used and I really should get rid of them…

Carol April 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

[enabler alert!] On the mortar/pestle subject, you *do* kind of need someplace to keep the matches, right? So why not something you find so appealing and, who knows, *might* actually use someday?

Sandra May 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Good list – enjoyed reading … though I love my snazzy oven mits and surprisingly I LOVE my strawberry dehuller!!! When I just cut the green leaves off for my kiddos .. I waste strawberry by cutting some of the top .. when I use my huller then it gets ONLY the leaves .. and I’m left with more strawberry to eat .. so I think it’s a great little gadget to have in a kitchen! :-)

Karen May 6, 2010 at 1:56 am

Excellent list, but you’ll pry my big, red Kitchenaid mixer from my cold, dead fingers!

kathryn May 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I have a rice cooker and a coffee machine but I use them both a lot. Until I moved a few months ago, I lived in places with NO oven. I have also noticed that the more cupboards you have in the kitchen, the more you feel the need to fill them up!

elizabeth May 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

The rice cooker has to be my most minimalist appliance, I use it multiple times a week to cook white and brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth and breakfast porridge! What’s so minimalist about it is that unlike the saucepan with lid, it never ever boils over, so there’s no stove clean up and the device cleans up super quickly too. It allows for a lot of quick and easy cooking from scratch. You can’t get more minimalist than that.

Nicole June 23, 2010 at 4:35 am

I’m coming into this quite late, but a pretty darn enjoyable machine-free vanilla ice cream is Molly Wizenberg’s Vanilla Black-Pepper Ice Cream in her book A Homemade Life. It also has directions for those lucky enough to own an ice cream maker, too ; ). I made it without a machine and found it to have a texture that’s a mix between hard ice cream and custard. (Rather solid, but with a smooth, custard base).

Crystle S. August 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

I must agree with elizabeth. The rice cooker is a seminal part of the minimalist kitchen. My kitchen is so small I have to use a vanity for extra counter space, that being said, I will always make room for my rice cooker.

misty August 18, 2010 at 8:52 am

I have to say that many of your items listed I find quite necessary in my kitchen. My rice cooker, several different sizes of pots, oven mitts( I’m still suffering from a burn from using a tea towel), bread machine(only used on the dough cycle), strawberry dehuller are all priceless items in my kitchen. I have the steamers I could pass on. They were a purchase inspired by my Taiwanese friends that made the most delicious food in their steamer. My mortar and pestle (I have two) have hardly ever been used. And thankfully, I have not had a microwave for many years. Did you know that in the sixties, they were outlawed in Russia because of how dangerous they are. I would love to scale down on my kitchen gadgets but find that I use almost everything I own.

kitchen equipment August 26, 2010 at 2:07 am

I agree with most of those points but there is no way I’d lose the oven mitts! Call me a sissy but I didn’t use them this one time and it took two week before I could use my mouse hand again for regular net surfing… Darned blisters.

A good write up though, thanks for sharing!

John.

sarah September 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

It never ceases to amaze me how different everyone’s minimalist list is! Obviously, we all have different styles – but I find the oven mitts one funny. Hahaha! Our towels have never been thick enough, but to each his own. I don’t think two oven mitts is gonna kill me either.

And a rice cooker is a necessity for us – a saucepan? Yeah, recipe for disaster in my house. We gave up and bought those dumb boil-in bags of rice. Rice cooker is still better than that.

Slow cookers? Yeah, I hate those. With a passion.

We also have a popcorn popper. Wouldn’t give it up. Cost something like $10, and it’s used 5x’s a week. I’d say a keeper.

We have a microwave, but it’s built-in & we rent. so, it’s kind of stuck there. At least it isn’t taking counter space!

Ralph December 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I don’t really need a rice cooker, lived without for a long time. However, they do save time and energy, which is the reason I purchased one in the first place.

Dave January 21, 2011 at 12:15 am

You had me until popcorn popper… One thing i took away from my “Serious Home Theater” days was a commercial type 8oz popper wit a heated tray… is it overkill? DEFINITELY but i LOVE popcorn, and this thing makes it awesome… ANd if i feel like being super-unhealthy, I can use coconut oil and flavacol and clarified butter..

My Kitchenaid would not be happy with the list, being red and covered in chrome flames, but sadly I must attest that it sits in the closet with about 5 other things that get no use… including my ice cream maker lol

Great list!

jules January 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

dave
if you love your popcorn popper than that’s the main thing.
you know it’s not the butter and coconut oil that’s unhealthy, it’s the corn…

Rebecca March 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

Fantastic list. Love the blog. Thanks Jules!

Krysta May 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

Totally disagree with the stand mixer. But I LOVE my stand mixer. If I’m able to have it out (in a flux period so everything is packed :( ) then I use it daily.
Plus…. kitchen aid mixers have pasta maker, and icecream maker attatchemnts… plus juicer attachments, grinder, stuffer… etc. etc…
I think they are totally worth the space, because you can have all your “toys” and use less space :D but I’m also a baker…

Penny Speers May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

The electric carving knife is only really good for cutting foam rubber!!

Penny Speers May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I hate the great hole in the bottom of the bread when using the breade machine so I let the machine run ’til it it knocks the dough one last time. Then i put it into an old (black) bread tin, place it into the oven on about 60 degrees and watch til it reaches the lip, then turn the oven to 220 for 30 minutes. Works a treat, the colour of the crust is better – and NO HOLE in the bread. Oh, I spray it with water just before turnng up the oven heat.

Nazaneen July 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Loved the list – especially the comment about the paella pans had me in fits of laughter.
I recently was forced into a minimalist kitchen when I emigrated to the otherside of the globe to be with my fiance – where kitchen equipment is either astronomical in price or just not available. I had a 60kg luggage allowance and so I had to focus on my ‘essentials’.
Crock pot
Magimix
Elec hand blender
Wet-dry grinder
9inch spring action cake tin
8-inch sandwich pan x2
Quiche tins – 2 sizes – x2 each
Baking tray
Roasting tin
Pyrex dish – rectangle – 2 different sizes with plastic lids for food storage
Pyrex bows with lids – 2 different sizes
Knife block – ok so I was naive on this one – see comment below
Salad spinner – We eat a lot of herbs and salad in my family which we grow ourselves – life is too short to be drying them with a tea towel.
3 wooden spoons (different lengths).
2 plastic spatulas
1 palette knife
2 ladels (one small and one large)
1 slotted giant flat spoon (for skimming and serving rice)
giant deep frying pan
3 pots – various sizes – medium, large, extra-large
Can opener
Peeler – yes people say use a paring knife – I seem to be incapable
Espresso stove top pot – no idea why I took it – but glad I did – saves oodles of space compared to those fancy machines and the coffee is just divine from it.

Dining-ware I just bought when I came here – much to my heartache – thought about ‘shipping’ but the cost-benefit analysis just didn’t add up.

Different cooking styles definitely warrant different ‘essentials’. As a middle-eastern you’d think a rice cooker should have pride of place in my kitchen. My husband was eager for one. My in-laws bought us one as a house-warming present. My parents kept trying to thrust me rice-cookers in different capacities throughout my life – counselling me about their essential nature. I still steam my rice on the stove top on a low heat. Perfect each time. Rice cooker currently gathers dust on top of the kitchen shelves. Can’t throw it out – would offend the in-laws.
Agree with you on the knife block – Out of a 16 piece set – I use 3 daily.
My crock-pot however, I wouldn’t part with – mainly because I’m a lazy cook who refuses to eat ready-made shop bought food. So I prepare it all the night before, and switch on my pot in the morning and have yummy food awaiting my return.
Disagree with the pan set, agree with the microwave (although I now own one after 10 years – husband’s wedding present to self), toaster, elec knife, tagine set and oven mits.
Still hankering after a kitchen-aid and the elusive icecream maker though. I wouldn’t be parted with my food processor nor my electric hand blender – owning those two should = no need for kitchen-aid – but they look soooooo nice. Sigh.
Electric coffee grinder – I have a ‘wet-dry grinder’ and its the business for making curry pastes as well as grinding spices and the like. A definite essential in my kitchen!

jules July 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Nazaneen
Wow you did well to fit all of that!
Thanks for sharing your list

Jessica Ghig October 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

Great post! I think one of the biggest causes of clutter in our kitchens isn’t just the unnecessary equipment, but the every day items that we have multiples of. Like a family of four that has 12 soup bowls, dinner plates, salad plates and dessert plates. That ends up being a ton of dishes in the sink. I’ve put all my extra plates and silverware up in a closet, and my husband and I just use 2 sets. It has just made life so much simpler! And we still have a few extras within easy reach for company.

I also keep very few spatulas and wooden spoons… just enough to cook a single meal.

There’s no way I’m ready to part with my breadmaker though! I haven’t bought bread since I was given it. We have fresh bread at least twice a week. I know I could go back to baking it in the oven, but maybe I’m just lazy ;)

jules October 1, 2011 at 9:10 am

Great suggestions Jessica
And if you’re breadmaker is working for you… that’s awesome… and I don’t think it’s lazy at all.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Lara November 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

OMG – I think I’m a kitchen appliance whore – I own just about EVERYTHING on your NOT necessary list – argh!!! Whilst I practically know that some of these things are not necessary – I love every single one of mine and they make me enjoy cooking. Now as for the cleaning/ironing cupboard – that definitely needs a good cull….lol

Cher December 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

I used to be completely with you on the oven mitts thing. A while ago, though, I had a dear friend of mine who is a nurse over for dinner. When she saw me pulling something out of the oven with a towel, she said, “I work in the burn unit at the hospital every day, and all I’m saying is the next time I come over here I better see you wearing oven mitts up to your elbows.” I bought them the next day. There is no way I am messing around with the hospital burn unit. haha

Liz January 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Ditch the oven mitts?? Those are basic safety equipment! You might as well save closet space by throwing out your shoes and going about in stockings.

I never could get the hang of cooking rice on the stove (and my mother, tired of my moaning about the burned saucepans, finally bought me a compact little cooker-steamer which I love), but I learned the secret to making popcorn on the stove without burning!

Here’s how you do it: use a few spoonfuls of oil with a high “smoke point,” like grapeseed (NOT butter or olive oil), drop a few kernels into the pot with the oil, and turn the heat on. Put the lid on the pot and listen. When those test kernels pop, drop in the rest (replacing the lid) and immediately take the pot off the heat and start shaking it. WITH oven mitts on, if you please. The kernels should pop; if not, put the pot back on the burner for five seconds or so, then grab and shake again. After a few repetitions of this, there will be no more popping; then they’re all done!

Debra February 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Just found your site and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve just started planting my seeds (herbs, tomatoes, peppers, etc) for my container garden, and in my research for such a garden I came across a tip to use that (useless to me) bamboo steamer to plant my chives. One kitchen item down, many to go :)

Carlos Stracci Junior February 7, 2012 at 5:14 am

In that list, I only have the microwave. I didn’t even know what a rice cooker was, i had to google it…

Deb February 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

I have been on a clutter free mission for a few years now. I have recently tossed out my wok, rice maker, sandwich grill, hamburger grill, and waffle grill. Still to go is the microwave, coffee machine and bread maker. I would like to make my coffee the old fashion way, if anyone has something they use for making great coffee without the big clumsey machine Id like to know! The bread maker has not been used in years and I will have to make life style changes to do without the microwave.

Thanks for the ideas!

Tori November 13, 2012 at 8:09 am

I cold brew, using a gallon plastic jug, and a mesh coffee filter to strain out the ground when I pour the brew off. I store the concentrate in glass bottles (vodka empties) in the fridge. When I want a cup of hot coffee, I pour a bit of concentrate in with some boiling water.
Easy, low tech, coffee! I do up a big batch over the weekend so I don’t have to mess with it when I’m bleary-eyed in the morning.
http://www.ineedcoffee.com/06/cold-brewed/

jules November 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Wow Tori
I’d never thought of making coffee like that… thanks for sharing!

Snow April 12, 2013 at 6:21 am

If you have a kettle, all you need is a french press & some ground coffee.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_press

You can normally buy one at your local coffee/tea specialty store in single, double, or triple cup sizes. (Maybe even larger – those are the common ones at mine) In fact, most large supermarkets should stock at least one of those. You can use regular filter coffee for this method, or ask for plunger ground coffee if you buy from the coffee specialists. It doesn’t make much difference, but you may find slightly less “silt” at the bottom of your cup as your plunger ages if you use the latter.

It’s also really REALLY easy to use even half asleep, single scoop (usually a normal coffee scoop is the right amount, but if you like yours stronger or weaker you might want to choose your own specific size of scoop) of coffee in plunger pot, sugar in your mug/cup, boil kettle, add water to pot, put filter on top & slowly plunge it (ideally you want to put just the weight of your hand/arm on the plunger, while you hold the lid steady with the other hand & let it gently slide down evenly – the faster you plunge the more weak watery your resulting coffee, conversely if you like it strong, plunge it smoothly and let it stand for a minute or two after). Pour into cup/mug. Enjoy.

xander February 7, 2012 at 11:31 am

just as a thought- i’ve lived with only a wok and a bamboo steamer for ten years now, in fact, my wok is the only pot i have ever owned. Granted, i’m single, live on my own, but when you think about it, what can’t you cook in stove top that won’t go in a wok?

coffee ice cream recipe February 9, 2012 at 6:32 am

Great blog. Its nice to see that I am not the only one who hates the clutter that come with all the gadgets. I just went to my kitchen and discarded 4 extra oven mitts. I make a lot of ice cream at home. I wrote down some good ones feel free to come by.

Bz March 12, 2012 at 1:39 am

Xander’s wok is the equivalent of my dutch oven. I use it for roasts, braising veggies, cooking rice and steaming by using a pie tin punched with holes that just fits. It’s a three quart Lodge pot & I never even put it away. I can also bake bread in it, ‘tho I haven’t tried it yet. I’m cooking dinner in it right now – braised cauliflower and tomato with steamed corn on the cob.

Ezra March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Nice blog.Upon this information it will helps a lot of people.Many would still searching for this information.

Teresa August 17, 2012 at 1:15 am

As one just starting on the minimalist journey I find some of your ideas, well, extreme. I don’t think the point is to be as minimal as possible, but to remove the excess from life that serves no purpose. For example: removing the refrigerator seems like it would induce a lot of extra work to shop more often! Something that I want to minimize! I agree with removing the one use machines, the multiples, but when I’m cooking I want to have certain tools on hand. I guess the point is that everyone’s lifestyle is different. Thank you for your blog and for making me think.

Colette October 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Melbourne rentals being what they are (space at a ridiculous premium) I have an exceptionally cramped kitchen with a built-in behind the sink, housing a washing machine & dryer. For a while, I made like The Vapors and turned Japanese, taking inspiration from the Tokyo cupboard-sized apartment lifestyle. A rice-cooker was a staple at that time.
Now, a professional espresso machine (kindly gifted from family) engulfs a good third of my bench space and I have to say that the shots I pull are comparable to blend 43. I have to say that its more of a fashion accessory than anything else!
After reading your entries on minimalism in the kitchen, I’ll be drawing up a purgatorial list and giving my pantry/kitchen an uncompromising spring clean!

jules November 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Enjoy the spring clean Colette!

Sarai November 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

I have a bit of confusion on the recipe for the honey ice cream. The directions state: “Place honey in a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat until really runny. Remove from the heat. Stir though double cream until smooth.

Whisk cream until it starts to thicken and form soft peaks. Fold whipped cream through the honey mixture.”

Well, I heated the honey and stirred it through the double cream (heavy cream, as it’s labeled in the States). Then you say to whisk cream until it forms peaks and to add it to the honey mixture. I tried whisking the single cream, and it would not form peaks because it was too thin to whip. I tried whisking the honey/double cream mixture, but it also would not form peaks. I tried mixing the single cream with the honey/double cream mixture, and it would still not form peaks because it is so thin. I have a huge bowl full of delicious liquid, but nothing thick. The only way I can understand this is if you meant to mix the honey in with the single cream at first, then whip the double cream, then fold the honey mixture into the whipped double cream. Is that what the directions are meant to say? Help! I feel I’ve wasted a good bit of local honey and pasture-raised cream, since I don’t know what to do with it now.

jules November 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Hi Sari

So sorry for the confusion.

Heavy cream in the US is what I would call single cream or whipping cream (it usually has 35% milk fat). What we call double cream here in Australia is more like 50% fat (it’s divine!) when I was living in California you couldn’t get double cream except for a specialist cheese store which stocked some cream imported from the UK.

If your ‘single cream’ isn’t whipping then it doesn’t contain enough fat.

So I think the problem is with the cream labels – I know it’s confusing.

If you were brave enough to try again – just use heavy cream for everything and it will work.

Good luck
Jx

Sarai November 10, 2012 at 7:03 am

Thanks, Jules! We ended up with a very sweet ice milk type of drink, which still got consumed :). I think I’ll try it with just heavy cream as you suggested.

Also, we scraped just a wee bit of vanilla bean into the mix- absolutely delicious!

jules November 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm

So glad it didn’t go to waste Sarai!

noboni November 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm

In our country everyone eat rice 2 times a day. And most of them don’t even own a rice cooker. So rice cooker is not necessary for cooking rice.

jules November 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Thanks for sharing Noboni

Alison Casey November 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I love the minimalist idea, I don’t have a food processor and only use a fork for all the baking I do. I’m not surprised Russia banned microwaves in the sixties, my great uncle has one from the seventies and I’m pretty sure you’d get badly burnt standing in front of it. They’ve improved the technology slightly since then. I’m putting in a word for the apple slinky maker, my kids use it all the time, and it gets them ready to chop up for muffins or cake. I just made a really creamy banana ice cream thing because I don’t have an ice cream maker and have just started to experiment with that kind of thing. It’s on my blog today.

jules November 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Wow Alison
I didn’t know they banned microwaves in Russia.. there you go :)

Patty November 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

The one ingredient Banana Ice Cream is really good. Healthy and truly minimal (I like to mix nutella in mine :)
I use a french press for coffee, I have a plastic one and can have coffee while I am camping.
My one thing I cant live without is my electric griddle I use it every single day, sometimes twice a day. I am about to ditch the electric griddle and buy a four burner steel griddle for my gas oven the save counter space. I have learned how to cook everything on a griddle ( weird right :P )

jules November 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Patty
LOVE the idea of nutella in the Banana Ice Cream – thanks for sharing!
You know since I wrote this list, my Irishman (who isn’t a minimalist) came home with a cast iron griddle pan one day and I do love it.

Ian December 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hi Jules. Thanks for your great site. I was directed here from a US site on Tiny Homes, so obviously the subject of gadget minimization and simple food preparation is a big topic for them. And I’m so glad to find this is an Australian site. No need to try and convert to metric and wonder what the names of ingredients are down here – but obviously for our American friends, they now have to translate our measurement and ingredient names.
I moved into my new place, and there is just not enough storage. So the old Breville Kitchen Wizz will soon find another home. As will my 30cm Jamie Oliver giant (heavy) whopping wok, which for 1 person is just overkill. I just bought myself a smaller one and it’s far more appropriate and easier to handle. I have a rice cooker but it always seems to want to boil over so have to move the lid slightly off on so that extra steam escapes. It also seems to me that it operates better when it’s full rather than for 1 cup of rice. I do have a slow cooker which gets used some in winter. Also a turbo oven, which although I don’t use often, nor my main oven, is so much easier to clean. Use my micorwave a lot but would like to start cooking fresher. Regarding the Russians and microwaves, I think the health warnings were because they didn’t make them very well, so microwaves leaked out…
Looking forward to checking out this site more extensively. Thanks for a good start.

jules January 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Welcome Ian!
And thanks for enlightening the Russian microwave situation…
Good luck in your new small space :)

Sophie February 11, 2013 at 12:36 am

Hello there! First of all I wanted to tell you I liked your article. I think your tips are indeed quite useful when one has a small kitchen. I have read a couple of the comments below and I think it would be useful to remember one of the rules of minimalism: if you DO use it often, if the item is perfect for you and your lifestyle, then it is unquestionably an essential for you. So keep it! :-) My grandmother gave me her bread machine last Christmas because it was collecting dust. I use it at least once a week. It helps me keep an eye on the ingredients we use, and it contributes to our zero-waste lifestyle because we no longer buy bread, pizza dough, and so on. Same for the coffee machine: we are saving loads of money, and sparing ourselves loads of chemicals and refined sugar by making it at home. Thanks for sharing your list with humor! :-)

meena February 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

i enjoyed u r list.too tempted to get lot of kitchen stuffs we rarely use.

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