Simplify Your Stuff: Choose the Classics

In Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything, he says the best way to stir fry is to use a flat-bottomed cast iron skillet. “Though woks are marketed as the ideal pans for stir-frying, this is only the case if you have a special stove-top burner for accommodating a wok, which almost no one does.”

When I read that, I remembered how I gave away my wok months earlier. It had never worked well on my electric stove because it could never get hot enough, and I knew to me it wasn’t worth the disproportional amount of space it took up in my small kitchen. The next time we had stir-fry (made in the skillet) the results were so superior I had no regrets.

When I was growing up my family had a dustbuster. There was something so satisfying about sucking up spilled cereal and watching it disappear into the canister. We also had a broom and dustpan, but those weren’t nearly so exciting. We gradually used the dustbuster less and less because the battery wasn’t strong enough and it couldn’t hold a charge.

In college I had a sleek toaster, the pop-up kind for toasting bread slices, and then one day it occurred to me that I hadn’t used it in years because I also had a toaster oven that was so much more versatile.

I remembered an electric can opener that would have never worked in a power outage. It was mounted in a prominent place under the cabinets, when a lowly handheld can opener would have stayed in the drawer.

Or how about the paper towel holder? I used to think that was essential in a kitchen. Now we just use a rag to wipe up spills and a dish towel to dry our hands.

Do you ever wonder how we accumulate so much stuff? Or maybe some of it is given to us?

There is always a new and improved version of something. There is always an upgrade, and it’s supposed to make our lives better and easier, or so we’re told. Now when I’m presented with something new, I’ve started to ask, “What problem will this solve for me, and is it really that much of a problem?”

As my life becomes full with more responsibilities, I cope by having fewer things to keep up with.

I want more of my things to resemble a cast iron skillet, modest and hardworking. Fewer gadgets. I’m learning to choose the classics.

How are you simplifying your stuff?


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About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Oh, I remember the dust buster and the electric can opener too. :)

    Every once in a while, I go through and clean out cabinets, drawers and closets quickly and take out anything I haven’t used in forever or probably won’t ever use.

    The reason I do it quickly is so I don’t give myself time to think too much. If I think too much, I’ll talk myself into keeping stuff I don’t need. Once the decision is made, I’m fine.

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last post…Instilling Biblical Values in Our Children

  2. I just found your blog and it is a godsend! SOmeday I’m going to have to sit down and read all of it – yes, all of it! We have an income of $800/mo right now – cutting back has not been an option (we’ve had help with food, mortgage, and clothing our children). I’ve just put up clothslines – it’s kind of soothing to watch sheets blowing in the wind. I’m hoping to put in a very large veg garden, too, though the area isn’t tilled yet. Thanks so much for this blog, and I will be following!

  3. We rarely use paper towels anymore — why spend the money/waste when rags work just as well! Same goes for cloth napkins.

    Karen´s last post…five senses friday

  4. My husband is a minimalist. I’m wasn’t but am slowly converting. :)

    I’ve been purging our kitchen of items that I never/rarely use. And if I have two of an item, I ask myself, “Do I really use two of these?” It’s been fun to get more space and I admit, it does feel good to have less stuff to worry about.

    Lydia´s last post…End of the Month Coupon Reminder

  5. I threw out my electric can opener in favor of a hand-held one that cuts through the side of the can and allows it to reseal. It was a marvelous day- the hand-held not only worked for many more years, but also didn’t scare me, worrying about cut fingers.

    My big thing was the day I realized I didn’t need a ‘full set’ of kitchen knives when I only used three of the eight. So the other five got sent on their way, and I kept the three I use. It’s lovely!

  6. Oh, I LOVE this. Kyle and I are in purge mode, so I’m going to be pursuing simplicity even more in the coming month.

    We don’t even HAVE a toaster (toaster oven or otherwise). I just make toast under the broiler. :) Got rid of the electric can opener years ago, too.

    I have a wonderful Cuisineart food processor my late grandmother gave me when we got married (almost 12 years ago). I think I’ve used it five times or less in the past 12 years. I hate to get rid of it though! Both for sentimental reasons and because I’m just SURE I should be using it somehow.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…A Slippery Slope, Indeed

    • Oh my goodness, yes! That food processor really can make your life easier. The next time you want coleslaw, put in the shredding device and pop your cabbage chunks, carrots, etc. through there. By hand, coleslaw takes me 10 or 15 minutes at least; in the food processor, it takes me less than 2. And that’s just one of many examples; I use my food processor at least 3 meals a week. Don’t let a good Cuisinart go to waste! :)

      Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last post…My New Project (and a fabulous recipe to kick it off!)

    • cutting down is def. a good idea, but if you threw away the toaster just so you could broil bread in the oven….. that’s actually incredibly wasteful

      the power used to heat the oven coil is about 25x as much as it is to heat a toaster coil.

      • I didn’t throw away my toaster, I gave it away to someone else. I now toast bread in a small and efficient toaster oven which we use to heat other food as well.

  7. I’ve been going through the need to purge lately. We have so much stuff, some given and some bought for reasons I can’t remember. This weekend we’re starting with our bedrooms going through toys, clothes and knick knacks to get rid of what’s not necessary.

    As far as gadgets go? I buy older versions at the thrift store or rummage sale to see if it’s something I’ll actually use before sinking big money into a new product. I did this with a 1970′s stand mixer and not-as-old food processor. Since I can’t get accessories for the stand mixer, I plan to buy a new one this year but I’m simply buying new accessories for the food processor.

    Jennifer´s last post…Springtime Fun plus a Dazzling Fruit Salad

  8. what is a good cast iron skillet? i need to get one and dont know which ones are the best

    • jackie – almost any will do. You can find good ones for dirt cheap at an antique or thrift store. A little steel wool, elbow grease and re-seasoning and they’re good as new! Here’s an article about it http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Care-for-Your-Cast-Iron-Cookware

      Kait Palmer´s last post…Okie Homie

      • I think the older kind you get tend to be of higher quality. If a thrift store purchase of it makes you uncomfortable for some reason, try an Army/Navy store. :)

        Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last post…My New Project (and a fabulous recipe to kick it off!)

        • Very true! I have my grandmothers. My mom used it when she died and then I got it when my mom passed. I love that skillet.

          Rana´s last post…Wordless Wednesday

          • Lodge makes the best cast iron skillets as far as I know. They are usually made in the USA and you can get them at Walm-mart, TJMaxx, etc. And they are pretty reasonable too.

          • jeannie says:

            The “BEST” cast irons are the old ones… Griswold is one of them. The name is stamped on the bottom. I got ours last summer at a yard sale from a cast iron skillet collector (seriously) and paid almost nothing for them. We have 3, I wish that I had a larger one and am on the lookout for that next. Personally, I would NOT buy a new cast iron skillet and specifically look for an old one. I think that the guy said that ours were about 100 years old. The newer ones (according to him) are not made out of as dense of iron so they’re not as non-stick as the older ones… So far, he has been right about everything else so I tend to believe him.

            The trick for us, as we don’t use them every day, is to season with olive oil. It doesn’t go rancid as fast as lard or shortening so the skillets stay “good” longer – and it’s an oil that I cook with anyways. Also, NEVER use soap to clean them with – use a bit of salt to scrub off stuck on stuff, rinse with water and wipe with a rag. Keeps them non-stick and rust free!

          • I know this is an old thread, and somehow I can’t seem to post this below Jeannie’s comment, but I wanted to add that one of the reasons that new cast iron is inferior is that it has a vegetable oil coating sprayed on. Olive oil is monounsaturated and does become rancid. Tallow or lard are much more stable, being more saturated, therefore less prone to oxidation. Tallow (beef fat) is the most stable. Palm and coconut oil are also fairly saturated and therefore less prone to rancidity (which is just fat become oxidized) Shortening is hydrogenated vegetable oil, so I wouldn’t use it anywhere near any of my food.

            I use a little plastic “pastry” scraper for really stuck stuff, or the edge of my “pancake turner” type of spatula. And, as Jeannie said, NO SOAP. Just rinse and dry is normally enough.

  9. I finally got rid of my knife block this year and I have free up the space in the cabinet (I kept my block inside the cabinet so little hands won’t get to them). Now the short knives are on the counter in a holder and the long big ones are wrapped with a towel in the utility drawer.

    Ditto on can opener with the Pamper Chef one. The best kitchen tool investment.

    Although I use rags in my kitchen and around the house, I do have a roll of paper towel handy for some greasy or extremely yucky stuff. I am working on saving old T-shirts and cut them into good sizes to do the dirty work so I can be completely paper towels free.

    Also working on changing from paper napkins to cloth ones.

    One place I have to be very careful is the http://www.freecycle.com site. Since that program’s mission is to avoid dumping re-usable things in the landfill, I have to be careful for what I am bringing home too. Sometimes free is not necessary fulfilling a need.

    I do my minimizing on Monday. Very slow going but my goal is not just decluttering. Minimizing to me is not to ever bring back the stuff I got rid of without careful screening.

    Jenny´s last post…Careful!

    • Hard to find cloth napkins that actually work or feel nice for every day without spending alot so i took Large kitchen towels to match my colors and cut them in half, sewed the edges and they are the absorbant, the colors I want, cheap, wash great and last forever!

  10. vermontmommy says:

    Too funny, I too have been purging things from our kithcen. I actually used the recommendation you gave for the pan set and it arrived today in the mail. It was just $108 vs. the original $400. Yah! I actually don’t have a cast iron pan but at the moment I don’t think I need it.

    It also got me to go through my utensils. I got rid of this and that but I the one think I did keep were my cheap tongs from the grocery store. I use them for everything. I donated my salad tongs because the basic tongs work just as well if not better.

    We are toaster craze people. With a family of five I just splurged and got a great toaster that I can leave out all the time. It seemed a lot but it has been a great match for our family.

    I was just telling my 10 year old about the dust buster. Remember how that was the big craze? Made me chuckle.

    I love your blog. While I don’t always comment I do read it. Thank you!!!

  11. Simplifying Kitchen Gadgets and cookbooks is something I work on every year! First time it is tough but its gets easier.

    Keeping classic things and multiple purpose items is way to go in our kitchen. Good reminder, I need to declutter kitchen area again.

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…How to find your core values : Part 1

  12. Jacobsmom says:

    So funny to see this article! I just started spring cleaning today and I”m throwing out anythinng that I don’t use. Do I really need 6 cooking spoons? Probalbly not. I’m simplifying.
    Now if there was a list of those “classics” I’d be ecstatic.

  13. I love my cast iron skillet! I even cook cornbread in it!

    Lee´s last post…If you register your site for free at

    • Melody says:

      I make my cornbread exclusively in my cast iron skillet that was my grandmothers. In my opinion, it is the only way to make it, very southern just like she was! :)

      The only problem I have is that my husband has Hemachromatosis which is a genetic defect in which the body does not filter out excess iron so he cannot eat anything prepared in the cast iron skillet.

  14. I’m having a garage sale! So other people can have my junk… or because other people will find my trash to be a treasure:).

    Christine´s last post…Crocheting…

  15. Well said! Last year we moved our family of 6 across the country for 6 months while my husband completed some training. During those 6 months of living a very simplified, pared down life, in a rented house, I realized how many items I could live without. After returning to the house that we own, I cleaned out like crazy. It feels so good to only keep items that we actually use. I have cleaned out so much stuff and still, I find more things that we don’t really need. The awareness of that was just one of the gifts of those 6 months of simplified living.

    heather´s last post…The night before he came home.

  16. I have to admit I have a dustbuster and use it almost every day! Maybe I’m not a very good sweeper or don’t have a great broom, but I can never seem to get ALL the hair/dust/dirt off our laminate floors without it!

    What aggravates me are the things I know I need at some point during the year but take up space the other 364 days. Like a platter big enough for a turkey, or the large, heavy wood salad bowl used for company. Oh well, good friends are worth it!

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Okie Homie

  17. ‘Choose the classics’ is advice that works well in every part of life.

    Sandy´s last post…Homemaking Counts

  18. This post is so true… .. and applies to every corner of the house. The minimalist in me thinks a kitchen needs a knife and a chopping board and a hotplate. The father person in our house just adores gadgets and goodies and every couple of month when I whip through the kitchen and sort and declutter I find strange things like a garlic peeler (like what is that about!!!) and a spoon rest, not just a saucer but an actual spoon rest. I am in constant wonder at what he finds to bring home!!! And he is in constant wonder at the gifting i do with all our totally unused little gadgets!!!

    se7en´s last post…Se7en’s Virtual Voyage: A Trip to Australia and Lamingtons…

  19. A friend gave me an electric can opener, and I love it. I use it every day. My arms and wrists (arthritis and carpal tunnel) do NOT miss turning that other opener.

    • turning a hand-held can opener can be incredibly painful! we don’t have an electric can opener, but some days…!

    • AMEN! I grew up with an electric can opener and have only used on as an adult. I also have wrist/carpal tunnel issues and use mine often.

    • lee selkirk says:

      The solution to most physical limitations vis-a-vis mechanical can openers is to use the classic wall-mounted ‘Swing Away’. They are still being made today though i first used one over 40 years ago. The long lever arm requires very little effort to pierce and hold the can in place. The revolving ‘crank’ arm makes short work of cutting the lid. The best part is that they are cheap cheap cheap – under $15 – and they last forever. As the name suggests, when not in use they can be swung out-of-the-way against the wall or cabinet!

      … just got to love the efficiency of non-electric tools!

  20. Oh…I just love my cast iron skillet! It’s become well seasoned and I use it all the time. I love the idea of becoming a minimalist in the kitchen. My grandmother used to cook everything from scratch everyday of her life, and she didn’t have anywhere near the gadgets we have today, or a big beautiful kitchen like the ones in so many of our modern homes. It’s great to just get back to basics!

  21. Very timely! I just gave away my dustbuster today and the Hoover Floormate earlier this week and my electric screwdriver too in an effort to simplify…

  22. Denise C. says:

    As always GREAT post! I invested in some All-Clad cookware 2 years ago, and love that is has held up. I bought only the pots & pans I knew I’d use…no more. I donated my older ones.

    I have a basic can opener that I got 14, maybe 15 years ago. It still works like a champ! I went through my cooking tool drawer. I kept only the essentials. Tools I never used, or used once a year went out. A friend thought it was funny I did not own a potato masher. I’ve always used a fork, and the potatoes turn out fine. :)

    As for adding somethings, I plan to get a 2 slice toaster and blender. I’ve had neither. Two things I know would get much use.

    • Debbie M says:

      Yes, the fork! A great classic! I use it instead of a mixer for most things (scrambled eggs, cake batter). And I surprised my sister by using one instead of a fork to test whether the cake was done.

      I use a knife or cheese grater instead of a food processor.

      Two specialty items I do have are a blender (great for turning leftover fruit and dairy products into smoothies and milk shakes) and an electric griddle (great for making large batches of pancakes).

  23. I will be doing a lot of this soon. We are moving to Thailand and I am going to use it as a time to simplify my life.

    Bren´s last post…Thank You for Voting!

  24. Great advice as always Rachel! I had to laugh about the can opener though; growing up we only had an electric can opener and when I was about 17 and babysitting the Mom left me tuna to feed the kids for lunch. I actually had to give them something else because for the life of me I could NOT figure out how to use the manual can opener! LOL Now all we have is a manual and I think an electric one would be overkill for us.

    I think the other point about choosing classics is choosing quality. We got two sets of knives for our wedding – a cheap set and a really great set. It didn’t take me long to discover why the cheap set was cheap! I’m sure we will have the good set forever and passed on the cheap set pretty quickly at a garage sale!

  25. What a fun post! There is nothing better than editing out the stuff that isn’t needed. I’ve just finished my spring cleaning and decluttering…but this post is making me want to toss more stuff again. I think it’s contagious!

  26. This is great! Having lived overseas, living without a lot of stuff has become normal for me, and yet I still find I have things I really don’t need. I love paring down to the basics and “choosing the classics.”

    Oh, and Mark Bittman was right about the wok. Woks are meant to be used over a gas burner, one that has special metal holder-thingies (how’s that for a technical term?) coming up from it to hold the wok. You will never see someone over here using one over an electric burner!

  27. Recently my simplifying has involved cleaning methods.

    You know… Those items you thought were great and convenient but soon found that they were impossible to clean.

    My first thought when I buy anything for my home now has to do with how to clean it.

  28. I choose my kitchen gadgets very carefully now. Although I loath storing my breadmaker and the space it takes up, I use it at least twice a week still so it’s worth it. I treat my kitchen gadgets like my wardrobe – if I haven’t used it in a year, it’s given away.

    Thanks for the inspiration as always :)

    Sarah @ Mum In Bloom´s last post…Recipe: French Country Bread (Bread Machine)

    • Colleen says:

      I’ve just decided to donate my bread machine (sniff). I used it religiously for the first few years, then went on one of those low-carb diets, and even though I’m not doing that anymore, I just haven’t gone back to using the bread machine. I am in the midst of packing up to move, and well, that’s one big machine that won’t be taking up space in my new (smaller) kitchen.

  29. I love hanging my laundry. Especially the cloth diapers. On that note, I love using cloth diapers. It feels so good to just walk right past the diaper aisle at the store each week. Even the simple act of reusing our bath towels for several days before washing them lightens the laundry load. And the bread maker. I sold it the last time we moved because anytime I make bread I typically make 2 or 4 loaves…so the breadmaker just took up space in my cupboards.

    Thank you for helping me rethink the paper towels…I’m still not positive I need them…

    Katie´s last post…Reusable Produce Bags Tutorial

  30. reading the complete vegetarian kitchen a few years ago helped me to rethink my pot collection. she says you only need 2 or 3. I have a small stainless pot, a pressure cooker (which is fine for other stuff too just don’t use the lid) and a cast iron dutch oven. I do have one nonstick pan too but if I’m good I can just use my cast iron pot too its just a little more work…its true of clothes too. while I can spend less on basics (tshirts from walmart) I found they don’t last as long (just threw one out with many holes I used it under another shirt) and it was less than 2 years old. some more substantial but pricier ones have lasted me 10 plus years. of course for a growing child that doesn’t work but for an adult its a good idea.

  31. Melinda says:

    My partner and I call this living analog :) We try to use as many “old fashioned” things as we can and are much happier without all the gizmos and one-use wonders :) I will say, I haven’t used my cast iron pan to make stir fry…now I’ll have to try that :)

  32. SavvyChristine says:

    Question: are you and your family sensitive to gluten cross contamination? I’ve been dying to cook with a cast iron skillet, but I’m nervous about it for that very reason. I’d love a little advice on avoiding any food sensitivity worries with cast iron!

    • Rachel says:

      Yes, we’re really careful about cross contamination, but I switched our family entirely over to gluten-free at home several months ago. I just wanted everything in our home to be safe, and I can eat bread or something when we go out to eat.

      While we were trying to do both gluten-free and non I cooked everything with stainless steel, and I wouldn’t try cast iron for that reason.

  33. The things I use the most in my kitchen?
    1. Stainless steel slotted spoon – $1 from dollar store (10 yrs ago)
    2. Scissors – $1.25 from dollar store
    3. Serrated knife for slicing bread – $1 from dollar store, (also 10 yrs ago.)
    4. Cleaning rags made out of old clothes

    To me these are the greatest “gadgets” ever! Take them away from me and I can function in the kitchen but I will be grumpy.

  34. My grandmother gave me some cast iron but I had no clue how to care for them so I GAVE THEM AWAY!! I can’t believe now how stupid that was. I still haven’t splurged to replace them (yet).

    I haven’t had an electric can opener for years. I hated the sound they made. lol

    I recently splurged and bought both a convection toaster oven and a good breadmaker. The breadmaker because I’m tired of all the preservatives in our bread products so I’m going to make them myself and a convection/toaster oven because it’s chaper than having a new oven installed in my kitchen. I hate having to wait on rolls or having to heat up the entire kitchen in the summer when I just want to cook somethign small. It just makes too much sense. I love the rotisserie feature too!

    April Driggers´s last post…iGoogle Reader…

    • Rachel says:

      One of the advantages about cast iron is how inexpensive it is. Mine was less than $20 new. (It’s the commonly found Lodge brand.)

      The investment with cast iron is the time to build up a good season. The more you use it, the better it is, which is why people become so attached to them.

  35. Funny because I was just thinking this weekend about simplifying life. I was walking by Michael’s and saw organizers for crafty things. I’m not very crafty so would never have a need for this item but I thought about how easily we are sucked into thinking we NEED something…there’s always something tempting us. As I’m preparing for baby #1, I’m really trying to take the simple approach. I just think it will be better for my life.

    Nicole´s last post…bliss list ~ april

    • Nicole,
      Congrats on baby #1. If you do decide you “need” some small container for organizing, save your empty baby wipes containers. They’re great!

  36. I found out the hard way not to throw out everything I don’t use often. I ended up without any oven pans at all… Very difficult to bake chicken without a pan. I had to go reinvest in second hand pyrex. The glass bake ware is so versitile. BTW, my gas turkey fryer base works well with a stainless steel Wok. Most certianly an outdoor activity.

    • catastrophegirl says:

      and that’s one of the reasons i love my cast iron – i’ve even cooked whole turkeys in my 20 inch skillet in the oven. i have several pieces of cast iron, including a dutch oven and a tall skillet. those last two make fantastic baking dishes.

  37. When I got my first apartment my mom send me away with one pot, one pan and a serrated Cutco knife.

    Every time I’m feeling cluttered in my kitchen I remember how I got by just fine back then. I lived off of those three items for over 2 years. Thinking about it, I really only use about 3 of my pots now anyways!

    Thanks Mom, hehe.

  38. I am super proud of myself for intentionally not owning any of the stuff you just mentioned!! My husband’s sister is a ‘new and improved gadget” girl, she always gives me crap about not having paper towels or about how i “need” some unitasking baby gizmo. I just smile and shrug, and tell her i live in the dark ages.

  39. I love my Dustbuster. Use it ALL the time. When it dies, I’ll be at the store the same day.

    I do have my grandmother’s HEAVY cast iron pan. It may not be quite 100 years old, but it likely isn’t far from it.

  40. I remember going to a friend’s house and wondering why on earth a single man who never entertained had a melon baller. I don’t ever want people to wonder why I have a piece of equipment! I love my cast iron skillet and wooden spoon that my parents gave me when I moved out ten years ago; they also gave me a combo pot/steamer that I can’t live without. I don’t need much more than that…

    Rae´s last post…Mix It Up: Test Drive Something New

  41. You’re learning to love the classics….Us Too! We love our cast iron skillet…got rid of our microwave…use cloth scraps to clean up…I’m thinking about making a rag mop too…
    Thanks for another great post.

  42. I LOVE simplifying, and with four boys at home…Yikes! I do a “spring cleaning” every season change just to get some “junk” out… This year I am gonna have a garage sale! Selling ALL of our baby stuff. Our last child was born three months ago and newborn stuff accumulates! So does maternity! We have lived in our home for three years now and realized that it “still” looks as if we have been here for at least ten!! My husband and I are still trying to figure out where the clutter comes from.
    I cleaned out our kitchen last month and got rid of ALOT, but still feel cramped. We live on a BUDGET. I am a stay-at-home mom for four years now and I still have NO IDEA what I am doing! Anyone have any suggestions?!?

  43. Kathryn Fenner says:

    Cast iron cannot be safely used on a smoothtop range–it may cause it to crack–and I love my smoothtop range–so easy to keep clean, and provides bonus counter space when it’s cool. I have top quality, thick-bottomed stainless pots and pans–but not many– a large pot for pasta and stews and soups, a smaller one for sauces. A big covered frying pan and several smaller ones that fit the smaller burner, so I don’t have to run the dishwasher until it’s full (dishwashers are far more energy and water efficient than handwashing).

    If you have weaker hands, OXO makes a great can opener and many other great kitchen tools with large, hand-friendly grips.

    I have four knives (plus steak knives)–a large chef’s knife, a long, thin carving knife, a serrated bread knife and a small paring knife.

  44. Great post!

    As an experiment in minimalism I decided to restrict my cooking to only two pots – a Lodge 12″ skillet and a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. I thought it would be limiting, but have actually found it to be exciting and fun. With a little thought you can cook almost anything with these two pots.

  45. Nothing wrong with stirfrying in a cast iron skillet. That said, there are flat-bottomed woks. If you do Asian-style stirfrying a lot, it’s worth considering these. If not, yeah, simplify.

  46. Great post!

    As an experiment in minimalism I decided to restrict my cooking to only two pots – a Lodge 12″ skillet and a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. I thought it would be limiting, but have actually found it to be exciting and fun. With a little thought you can cook almost anything with these two pots.

  47. I realize no one else has probably commented on this in forever but I’m a kitchen gadget junkie. Within the last year I have purged SO much… the problem ends up being…I’m a cake decorator. I have so many little things I may only use once or twice a year, depending on who wants what… but I don’t know how much I’ve gotten rid of, but enough I don’t feel like I need a ton of extra space. Just a little bit more :)

    Suzy´s last post…Burn Notice and no Im not talking about the food -

  48. Discovered your blog through Get Rick Slowly and have been reading for days… as a chef I HAD to comment on this! ;)

    I have 3 knives: 2 chef’s (8 inch serrated and santokou), 1 paring; plus 6 cheapo steak (works great for boning as needed, or for steaks an enough for company).

    I have a food processor; a stand mixer; a mandolin an electric hand mixer; wooden, metal, and plastic cooking utensils; cast iron as well as stainless & copper pans in both non-stick and non-coated; 3 big stock pots (stainless with copper bottom and glass lid, non-stick with pasta strainer lid, and too-big-for-the-sink stainless with a thin bottom, a strainer basket and a steamer basket); a wok (rarely used for stir-fry, but it’s great for sauteing greens which I use instead of noodles sometimes–they’re just too big otherwise, and never work right in a pot); glass baking dishes in all sorts of sizes & shapes; 2 cookie sheets; bowls in glass, plastic, ready-for-company and only-for-cooking… And I use every bit of it regularly.

    The only bad thing is that with our kitchen so tiny, everything fits in its perfect spot–and my partner and roommates can’t seem to get it right. And if I use every dish, there’s NO ROOM in the kitchen to serve, so I have to be very careful about what I use and getting it cleaned right away. Always a challenge, but even if I use my gadgets twice a year I think they’re worth it. If I lived near family and could, for example, share my brother’s stand mixer when I need it that would be fine. But I’m finding it’s working great for bread dough so I don’t have to knead so much by hand.

  49. Cheyenne says:

    Great topic! Simplifying is the name of my game this week. We just moved into a new place a few days ago and man—nothing makes you feel like you have too much stuff like having to move all your stuff! For me, this is an opportunity to look at everything I own and ask myself when the last time was that I used it, if I can’t live without it or finally, if it is something meaningful to me. The Goodwill/consignment pile just keeps growing and I feel great :). We love our cast iron skillet and my dad is passing on a cast iron muffin pan so, I’m pretty set ha ha!

  50. We are having stir fry later this week, and I think we will try it in the cast iron. I love using our wok for stir fry and fried rice, but it is huge, especially in our tiny kitchen.

    Funny story about those cabinet mounted electric can-openers… My grandmother has one of those, it is probably forty years old, or more. Well, when I was little (maybe 7-10 years old), our family was gathered around that counter watching a camcorder on Christmas Eve. I wanted to see, but I was too short, so I started jumping up and down to peek over shoulders. I smashed my head on the can opener, and it actually cut a five inch or so gash in my head. I was bleeding like mad, but I really, really, really didn’t want to go to the ER on Christmas Eve.

    Instead, Mom (an OBGYN) whisked me off to the bathroom and stitched me up, right there. I don’t know if the newer ones still have that risk, but I did learn my lesson. Never, ever jump around a can opener!