The Minimalist Cook’s Kitchen Challenge
A minimalist kitchen doesn’t have to be stark or reductionist. I want a kitchen which is a pleasant and nurturing hub for my home, and which is shaped by my own approach to life in general. Now that I no longer need to cook to competitive standards, I am free to develop my personal approach to food, which is about simplicity and breaking bread, not cooking for cooking’s sake. That is the point of this blog and my recipes: to step back from consumerist, keeping-up-with-the-trends cooking, and to work with simple core recipes, simple skills, to make comforting, sharable food. In the kitchen I don’t want to sweat the details, I don’t want to do information overload or to stress out trying to duplicate someone else’s perfection.
This approach is not for foodies or chefs or trendies or hobbyist cooks, but quite the opposite–those who are simplifying and uncluttering their lives, reducing busywork and consumerism. My kitchen should be an extension of this approach, and I now have an opportunity to make some needed changes in this direction.
The first prinicple is form must follow function. I don’t want my cooking to be shaped by the space, which is currently a traditional galley kitchen layout with banks of cabinets and a large island. I want light and air and surfaces that are easily cleaned, I want to be able to get at my pots and pans and dishes without straining. My current cookstove is a creaky 24″ electric range which has a spiky burner and a non-functioning self-clean oven. Now I can replace it with the 30″ ceramic-top range from the cookery, which has smooth clean lines and a large self-clean oven. This will require moving or cutting down cabinets and reducing the amount of storage space. The prospect of losing part of a base cabinet and a big chunk of wall cabinets is not worrisome. There will still be space for what I need to store.
Then comes the big sorting job, after gathering all my kitchen and cooking-related items into one place, from dishes and small appliances to can openers and crock pots. And yes, cookbooks too. By this point I will work quickly to pick out only the things I use every day or at least once per week. Everything I don’t keep will go into storage or sold or given away. My husband and I suspect that there will be a lot more unused storage space in the kitchen than the way it is currently arranged. Yes, my spouse is on board with the project–he cooks many of our meals, too, and loves the idea of a less-overwhelming collection of kitchenalia.
We are gong to do the work ourselves, bit by bit, with the goal of spending next to no money. There will likely be some plaster patching and painting, some minor electrical work, and a trip or two down to the hardware store. We will work carefully to preserve the existing stock countertops, the existing sink and faucet, etc. This is a very modest house–the previous owner bought it as a fixer-upper to flip. He did a nice job with basic materials, and this works to our advantage skill-wise and budget-wise. He also left quite a bit of leftover material, particularly the paint. I just checked it and it is still good.
This is going to be a fun challenge, one that goes a little deeper than simply uncluttering. A lot of us have discovered the residual benefits of reducing our possessions and clutter, how it lightens the spirit and frees us from impulsive acquisition and needless waste. The kitchen, and cooking in general, are my Last Frontier, so to speak. How about you? Have you done a kitchen uncluttering, and has it affected your cooking? Or have you determined your approach to cooking first and arranged your kitchen to suit?