Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Bare Minimum


nakji
 Share

Recommended Posts

The Minimalist himself weighs in on this issue:

"So Your Kitchen is Tiny. So What?"

It seems Mark Bittman has dealt with kitchen horrors such as electric stoves, microwaves - and - a classic in my life - the basement apartment; and has not let them stop him from writing cookbooks and a weekly column for the New York Times.

According to Batali in the article, "Only bad cooks blame the equipment."

In these straitened times, what sorts of things are you doing without?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kitchen paper - if you pull the coating film off the inside surface of an opened-flat milk carton, you have a nice, sturdy, absorbent surface for putting wet or greasy food on.

And if you don't rip the coating off, you can use them as disposable food prep surfaces, as Hiroyuki has mentioned in the past too.

Oil filters - used to buy the special paper filters to filter used oil after deepfrying, but these days I pull a tissue in half and use one layer as a filter. (A double layer takes too long to filter the oil).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

You mean I don't need my 27+ pieces of Le Creuset, All-Clad & Staub, not counting the Emile Henry tagine and about 15 pieces of LC and EH stoneware, in my small Manhattan kitchen? Sheesh!!! Now you tell me. I don't even cook that much. It makes me happy though ;-).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love kitchen gadgets but I always find myself coming back to my favorite basic things. I'm always amazed by how many little goofy metal thingies can be replaced with a good sharp paring knife. And a radio, can't cook without music!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Great post.

I'm living now, and have for nearly a decade, in a small house with a small kitchen. No dishwasher, no garbage disposal, two burner stove (there are four but only two have pilot lights installed). I have only recently started to acquire kitchen tools to replace those I got in college or for use when camping. And that was about 30 year ago. Just got my first blender. Still no toaster. I have a microwave and use it. So there's that. Most of my eating takes place out of a few nice bowls and lunch-sized plates except when entertaining and I feel like I should put the food on a dinner plate, even though it's the same food. The plates are very nice, but I don't eat large portions so why do I need a dinner plate is my thinking?

Now here's the rub. I'm currently building my first house and doing all sorts of Westernized material things like deciding which counter material to install and which brand of dishwasher even though I'm not convinced I'll ever use it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to sound critical of this discussion, but what this is really about is "how much are you willing to curtail your cooking and limit your eating?"

I can deal with one good knife, one spoon, one spatula and a wok, but I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner with that equipment.

If the question is "what's the bare minimum of equipment it would take for you to cook and eat the way you'd like to?", I think that would be an interesting discussion. But that's not the one we're having here. If you're doing bare-bones meals for two, you can get by with much less stuff than if you like to host dinners for eight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to sound critical of this discussion, but what this is really about is "how much are you willing to curtail your cooking and limit your eating?"

A good point.

When I first moved overseas and had to deal with a kitchen different from the one I grew up with, I felt my my cooking and eating were curtailed considerably. Then I learned new recipes, new foods, and new methods of preparation that expanded my eating options (and waistline :hmmm: ). I don't agree that having less equipment in your kitchen necessarily limits your eating, although not having an oven does rule out baking. Fortunately for me, Tokyo has some pretty spectacular bakers.

Not everybody has the sort of limitations that I do, of course, and there's nothing wrong with having lots of kitchen equipment - I'd love to have a kitchen full of le Crueset, silpats, and a Kitchenaid (blue, please). But I think I can still eat well even if I don't have all those things.

Over the holidays, I visited a couple of friends living in Seoul, Korea. I cooked a Christmas dinner in one apartment, and a New Year's dinner in another.

The first apartment had everything I've been missing for a few years - a large oven and four-ring gas range, a mixer, blender, food processor, all the pans and tongs and knives my heart could want. We made a leg of lamb and a pork shoulder, plus two kinds of potatoes, apple sauce, roast broccoli, squash, pies, cookies, trifle...and more. We fed 12 people well, and it was nice to work with an oven again. If I had this equipment, I'd be quite happy, but the reality is I have to do without it for while to meet some other goals in my life. I'm sure there are other people in similar situations.

For New Year's, I cooked a meal for seven using a single gas ring, one knife, a cutting board, a pot, a fry pan, and a microwave. I made mushroom maze gohan (rice with sauteed mushrooms), tofu steaks, chicken cutlets with ponzu and green onion, fried mushrooms and peppers, braised daikon, salad, and fresh daikon pickle. It was just as delicious and satisfying as the Christmas meal, but made with the sort of equipment I usually have on hand. Seven years ago, I would have had no idea what to do with half of those ingredients, let alone how to cook a meal for a large group using them and the equipment at hand. Of course, it's limiting that I can't bake or roast; but I'm still eating well without those methods.

That being said, there are two things that I'd really like to add to my kitchen this year:

A mandoline would really help out with all the vegetable preparation that I do. I blew out my elbow this year in a hiking accident, and chopping is a (literal) pain. I'll probably buy one, since it's small and portable enough for me to justify.

A dutch oven is on my want-but-cannot-justify list - it would be perfect for roasting large joints of meat on the stovetop, along with braising. But it would be too heavy to ship from country to country as I moved, I think - plus they're quite expensive. If anyone would like to make a persuasive case for buying one...... :biggrin:

And a radio, can't cook without music!

Absolutely, critically important. A must-have for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For New Year's, I cooked a meal for seven using a single gas ring, one knife, a cutting board, a pot, a fry pan, and a microwave. I made mushroom maze gohan (rice with sauteed mushrooms), tofu steaks, chicken cutlets with ponzu and green onion, fried mushrooms and peppers, braised daikon, salad, and fresh daikon pickle. It was just as delicious and satisfying as the Christmas meal, but made with the sort of equipment I usually have on hand. Seven years ago, I would have had no idea what to do with half of those ingredients, let alone how to cook a meal for a large group using them and the equipment at hand. Of course, it's limiting that I can't bake or roast; but I'm still eating well without those methods.

I would LOVE to hear more about how you managed this meal. A typical spoiled American, I can't even imagine trying to do all that with only that equipment.

Details, please!

You have my admiration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I lived on the road for several years. Cooks don't thrive in hotel rooms eating delivered pizza so I bought a hotplate, a pan, a wooden spoon, a good quality 8 inch chefs knife and a plastic cutting board. It is amazing what you can do with these 5 things and a little imagination.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<snip>

I don't agree that having less equipment in your kitchen necessarily limits your eating, although not having an oven does rule out baking.

<snip>

A dutch oven is on my want-but-cannot-justify list - it would be perfect for roasting large joints of meat on the stovetop, along with braising. But it would be too heavy to ship from country to country as I moved, I think - plus they're quite expensive. If anyone would like to make a persuasive case for buying one...... :biggrin:

There's your justification for the Dutch oven - you can bake in it!! - on the stovetop/burner. :wink::biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...