We’re both keen cooks and pride ourselves in cooking every meal from scratch. If you’re on strict and clean keto food – i.e. animal protein sources, high quality fats, some vegetables and absolutely no additives, processed foods, dairy or grains – there is really no alternative. We cook two or three full meals a day, including stews, sauces, gratains, homemade bone broth, salads, sauerkraut and kombucha – I could go on; my point is just that we do cook, and quite a lot. That is a backdrop clarification I wanted to make before explaining that we own very few of the kitchen utensils deemed essential. When I mention that we keep our kitchen strictly minimalist, with just a couple of pots and pans, and no extra equipment whatsoever, people have a tendency of going “I could never do that, I just love to cook!” Well, so do we. And cooking is all the more meditative and rewarding if it’s virtually impossible to make a mess, and if it’s very easy to clean up the little mess you might manage to cause, should you aim for it.
The most delicious meals we’ve ever had came from various food markets, or very simple, mobile restaurants in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. They were prepared before our eyes with exactly one chopping board, one knife, a single gas burner and a wok pan – nothing more. These meals have been far more nutritious and better tasting than anything we’ve gotten from fully – or shall I say excessively – equipped kitchens.
A minimalist kitchen contains the bare essentials required for preparing the kind of food you eat – or, if you’re prone to extreme minimalism, you could obviously adjust the food you eat to the number of items you’d like to keep. That’s what we’ve been experimenting on lately. We’ve gotten rid of some items we rarely use, like a rolling pin (which we kept just in case we wanted to bake every third year), an electric wip, and some additional rare-occasion stuff that we do well without. Below is a picture of our kitchen in Spain. Since we let the house when we’re in Sweden, we begrudgingly keep some things that are excessive to us – like a toaster, an extra frying pan, three cutting knives instead of two (the two of us really can’t use more than two knives at the same time, no matter how we try – at least not with all our limbs in keep), and a whole bunch of extra tableware and cutlery. We’ve some fancy wine glasses, which is evidently something people like to use on vacation – you get the point.
This, however, is the exact amount of cooking related items we keep for ourselves: one frying pan, one medium size pot, one pot large enough to prepare a duck or even a turkey (which we do relatively often), one moka pot, one kettle, two cutting boards, two cutting knives, two oven pans, a mixer wand, a metal spatula, some wooden spoons and ladles, one big bowl for salad, a tray and a jug. We could probably do without the mixer wand, which we recently purchased when cooking for our wedding. That’s right: we managed to cook a three course dinner for thirty people, including a wedding cake that literally made one guest weep with pleasure, with this minimalist kitchen set. It was no stretch at all. This is why we’re not impressed with the argument “Oh, I could never settle for a minimalist kitchen, because I love inviting a lot of people over for dinner!” Well, so do we.
When it comes to tableware, we keep the exact amount we use day to day in our kitchen. The rest, we store in the basement to fetch if we expect company or throw a party. For ourselves, we have two regular plates, two small plates, two large bowls, two tiny bowls, a drinking glass, a tea mug and a coffee cup each. We have exactly one fork, one spoon and one knife each. The point of this is that it is absolutely impossible to stack dishes on top of each other or in any way clutter the kitchen. We’re forced to wash up any tableware we use immediately. In our Swedish kitchen, we just store the day to day tableware in the dish rack, thus eliminating the need to ever dry and put away dishes. It’s very handy and looks neat, since there is such a small amount of items.
Being minimalist means less clutter, less time spent looking for, cleaning and organising things. It doesn’t, however, mean less actual cooking or that your kitchen can’t look nice. We love to keep some fresh herbs, oils and vegetables as decorative, but useful, items.
Future experiments include removing even more utensils and tableware. Perhaps we can settle for exactly two bowls each – one for salad and one for the main course? And isn’t one, single drinking glass quite enough, since they tend to contain any kind of liquid – be it tea, coffee, water or wine? Let’s see.