Farmhouse Kitchen?

My kitchen was not designed for much more than making a quick meal, though I’m sure a large percentage of mobile homes are on acreages.  The designers/architects/engineers left a lot to be desired (if there even were professionals such as these involved in this house).

Despite it’s gross lack of efficiency, it has no choice but to accommodate multiple projects simultaneously.

Case in point.

Here we’ve got 4 projects on the go at once.  Eggs drying, jam waiting for reprocessing, apples in the dehydrator, and yoghurt ready for the fridge.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and we’ve been systematically (ok, randomly) streamlining work processes and downsizing to just the basics since we moved in 4 years ago.  We recently bought some more stick-on hooks and expandable racks for a couple storage areas that needed to be more efficient.  We also bought a new set of plastic storage containers, just so they could all fit in the space easily (and now I’m having a hard time getting rid of the old ones. Go figure).  We don’t own a microwave because they take up way too much precious counter space and they turn healthy food into unhealthy food.  We don’t have a toaster oven or food processor or countertop griddle or grill (though I’ve considered a food processor, but not sure I’d use it enough to justify the space it would take up).

There’s not a lot we could do to make it a more efficient space without totally remodelling the whole kitchen, which I often fantasize about.  The traffic flow, while it doesn’t cut off any appliances from the rest, still goes right through the kitchen, and it’s cozy if 2 people are trying to cook.  Even cozier if Sadie brings a chair over to stand on so she can help.

There’s still a ways to go to make it more efficient the way it is now, but I have to come up with a creative solution for storing a few large, awkward pieces before I can go any further.  Like platters and large, deep containers with lids and (3) cookie tins.  But now that I think about it, I only use the big containers once or twice a year, and I’ve used one of the platters maybe once since we moved here.  I think I could let them go.  A couple of cookie tins too (I use one to store cookie cutters, which I also rarely use). Hmm.

Storage is a huge issue here.  Yet our cupboards and drawers are not crammed with stuff or overflowing.  There’s actually quite a bit of extra space in almost all of them.  I like it that way.  I can find everything easily.  I had to let go of a lot of extra things we didn’t need, but it was so worth it.  The few things I have to dig for are only used rarely (like the french press, pie plates, and extra bread pans–they work better for banana bread than my regular bread pans).  I don’t even have a junk drawer!  There’s no convenient drawer for silverware so it goes in a compartmentalized basket on the counter next to the knife block.  I like it better that way than in a drawer anyway.

I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist by any means, but I like that my kitchen isn’t stuffed to the gills with extra things I don’t really need (or want).  I can breathe in there (when it’s clean).

This post did not go in the direction I was originally planning, but I hope it’s useful to someone.  Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are redundant (except flippers and wooden spoons!) or that you don’t use much.  There’s almost always another item that will substitute for the thing you got rid of the once or twice a year you would have needed it.

Get rid of the extra pots and pans, the small appliances you hate to clean, and the random one-purpose tools you forgot were there.

I cook from scratch and make yogurt, jam, beef and chicken broth, bread, butter, etc. and I only need 2 cast iron frying pans, 4 different sized pots + 1 large stock pot, and a crock pot.  I have a blender that I only need once in a while, because the stick blender works for most things.  The stand mixer gets used at least once a week just for bread, and Darryl likes using the hand mixer.  Other than the toaster, the only other appliance is the coffee maker, but Darryl recently quit drinking coffee so we can get that off the counter (yay!).  We use a regular whistling kettle because is doesn’t take up counter space (just a stove element).

I used to have a Pampered Chef parmesan cheese grater, but I nixed that because I used it once since we were married and it didn’t work for grating soap (for making laundry soap).  The regular grater works just fine for parmesan (and soap!).  We use the soup pot to make popcorn.  A breadmaker MIGHT save me 1 minute of shaping dough, but takes up way too much room (I make 4 loaves at once in the mixer).

We use the cast iron frying pan as a griddle all the time.  I would like to get a cast iron griddle that fits over 2 elements though, and it wouldn’t take up much room in the cupboard.

Despite it’s weaknesses, our kitchen still runs pretty efficiently because we’ve made it do that.  As long as we can keep things cleaned up as we go, there is room for both of us to cook, and there’s almost always something else going on as well, like the crock pot with yoghurt or chicken broth, something in the dehydrator (which I don’t count as an appliance because it only comes out in the fall), ginger beer or cream fermenting on the counter, beans soaking, etc.

Or even another vain attempt at keeping a plant alive in the house.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, make your home work for you.  Don’t be limited by poor design.  Do what you can to change it or make it better, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do.  And don’t let yourself be squeezed out by your stuff.  Make it easy to find things so you’ll be more inclined to use them.  Keep things that do double duty.  Get rid of the nifty gadgets you rarely use and the little-used appliances that take up precious storage space.  Do you really need 6 pots when your stove only holds 4?  Make your stuff work for you too.  If it doesn’t, let it go.  You don’t need as many things as you think you do.

Trust me. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Farmhouse Kitchen?”

  1. Good post – but I’d keep the platter; I only need mine those few times a year when I make a Turkey dinner, but a dinner plate simply won’t do for a large bird without looking ridiculous.
    I’d also keep the cookie cutters simply because of how much kids like specially shaped cookies, especially during special times.
    What I did when I was down-sizing is make a rule; if I was going to keep it, it had to be hard to do without (practically essential), or it had to be FAR more useful than it had been.
    For instance, to keep all my China when we moved from BC to SK, it had to have a larger use than merely twice a year. I had a LOT of China and crystal, most of which rarely saw the light of day. China is not essential – therefore, it needed much more use if I was to keep it.
    Now it gets used for Friday night dinners, birthdays, company and sometimes, just because. 🙂
    The wonderful Ivy pedestal bowl and platter I got from my beloved Mother-in-law likewise needed more use if I was to keep it, and I REALLY wanted to keep it. It’s the same pattern that was designed for Napoleon Bonapart’s use when he was exiled on Elba…. how could I give that up? And it had a matching massive platter, too!
    Well, this also gets more use now. When we have potluck dinners at Church and I make a massive potato salad, out comes the Napoleon bowl! When I need a punch bowl – hello, Napoleon!
    When I need massive platters for squares and cakes or turkey, I have one. I also kept my smaller China platter as well, since I don’t need a massive platter as often as I need a big one. That seemed practical.
    OK.
    It was also sentimental because it was a gift from a dear Grandma and Grandpa.
    I’m not nearly as good as you at downsizing, I admit. So much of my stuff has memories from Great-grandparents and grandparents that are long gone. I’m mostly happy with my stuff.
    I did get rid of lots more stuff in my last move, too, though.
    Maybe there’s hope! 😉

    1. I hear what you’re saying about the platters. I have two…one’s a red plastic one that I’m for sure not keeping, and the other is a china one with a pattern that’s not my favourite. I thought about keeping that one, but I really don’t think I’ll use it, even if I cook a turkey. I have a lovely wood cutting board with grooves on one side and a lip around both sides, so I can use that to carve the turkey on, and I think it looks better than the platter. I use the cutting board regularly for everything from cutting food to displaying appetizers and it doesn’t take up much space, so I think I’ll get rid of both platters. 🙂

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