Saturday, February 11, 2012

Minimalist Kitchen

Sorry about the long wait between posts. I've been busy with work, then received Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Yule. It's an addictive game, let me tell you.

Anyways, on to the post itself. I believe in not having more than you use, so in a sense I've always been a minimalist, just never had a term for it. Here's my list of kitchen items, some of which also come in handy if I have to bug out.

  1. Knives
    You really only need three knives. One for chopping vegetables and fruit, one for slicing bread, and one for paring. That's it. Other knives just take up space. I actually have a small set (5 pieces, including the block), but I only use two of them. The other two have never even been pulled out of the block since the day I purchased them, except for dusting.

  2. Cutting Boards
    I only have one board at this time, but two or three would be ideal. One for meat, one for fruits and vegetables, and one for bread. And don't worry about the board getting cut up by the knife. This is normal, and the reason for having it. It's easier to replace the board than your counter (or whatever you prepare food on).

  3. Frying Pans
    I don't need more than two. I rarely ever even use both at the same time. I currently own two stainless steel pans of different sizes. One is for cooking large meals (one-pot spaghetti for example), and the other smaller ones (an omelet).

  4. Pots
    I have two stainless steel ones, and sometimes think it would be nice to have a third one. It's not necessary, but it would be nice to make goulash, mashed potatoes, and corn without having to clean one of the pots to cook the third item. If you cook for more than one person, unlike myself, it would also be beneficial to invest in a stock pot for cooking large amounts of food.

  5. Strainer
    While this is necessary for cooking pasta and vegetables, I found a work-around. My cooking pots were designed with pour spouts on two opposing sides. The lids that came with them have holes for draining the water without dirtying another item.

  6. Silverware
    For a meal, you only need one butter knife, one steak knife, one fork, and one spoon per person. However, that's not enough in my opinion. Even though I wash my dishes by hand in the sink instead of using the dishwasher supplied by my landlord, I still need several. Not just for eating, but for snacking (a bowl of ice cream), or if I drop one on the floor (grab a new one. I live with cats, and eating off the floor is asking for trouble). I would say two sets for each person, to act as back-ups. If you prefer chopsticks, I would recommend two sets of those per person.

  7. Cups/Mugs
    I would recommend at least three cups and a mug per person. I don't like to refill a used cup with a different drink, it gives it a funny after-taste. Water with a splash of orange juice is not appetizing to me. Or Soda with a hint of black tea. Plus, if you get sick, you don't want to keep drinking out of the same cup, and probably won't want to wash dishes while you're sick.

  8. Salad/Mixing Bowl
    I have one mixing bowl of medium size, and it works perfectly for pouring things out of it. However, it is horrendous for things like French Toast. I am looking into investing in a flat-bottom bowl for items like that, and probably larger if I decide to make home-made bread one day.

  9. Utensils
    Besides the previously mentioned utensils, I have two spatulas (one wide, one narrow), a spaghetti spoon, a whisk, a can-opener, scissors, a spatula, several wooden spoons of varying length, a ladle for serving soup or chili, several orange peelers, tongs, and a pizza cutter. Most people would say a grater is essential, but I buy my cheese already grated.

  10. Baking pans
    I own a flat pan for baking things like fries or potatoes. I also own muffin tins. This is the bare minimum for me. I don't do a lot of baking, so when I need a loaf pan or a cake pan I just borrow from someone.

  11. Knife Sharpener
    All knives get dull eventually, no matter what the commercials tell you. It happens when slicing something, and cutting into your board. Having a sharpener will extend the lives of your knives.

  12. Kettle
    This is one way of heating water, and is a traditional method. You could also heat water in one of your pots, or use your coffee maker without adding coffee. The third is my preferred method, but if you want your water a certain temperature (different teas taste better with the water heated different degrees), I would go with the pan method.

  13. Measuring Devices
    Measuring cups (liquid and dry) and measuring spoons are absolutely essential. I also have what I call a measuring shot glass. It's basically a shot glass with measurements on the side. I use it when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of olive oil or other liquids (since liquid measuring cups tend to be 1/2 cup or larger).

  14. Storage Containers
    I have all of my food stored in Lock n Lock containers, if they didn't come canned, as mentioned in a previous blog. They're easy to stack, not to mention insect proof. And they keep food longer. I've had the same brown sugar in one over a year now, and it just started clumping in the last couple months. Also, if you live in a humid environment, it will keep the moisture out of your food while the containers are shut and latched. I also have a Lock n Lock container set aside for left-overs (unless left-overs are stored in it, of course).