I am sitting on a couch, right next to a bathroom where I could jump into the shower at any time, while dinner is cooking on the stove in a well stocked kitchen. It is winter in Colorado, and in order to be with our local friends and family for the holidays, we are housesitting for a couple of weeks. We make smoothies every day since there is electricity to run the blender, the kids can take a bath whenever they want and there is no need for double or even triple pajamas at night. I am probably most enchanted with the possibility of taking a shower first thing in the morning, but the opportunity to fill our bodies to the brim with nutritious food is nearly as much of a treat. It is time to evaluate the minimalist kitchen in our vintage Avion. What do we use on a daily bases, and do we have what we need?
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1 Bialetti percolator and Ikea milk frother
We always start the day with a fancy cappuccino, created with our Bialetti percolator. We like this coffeemaker best because it creates a true espresso. In our house we grind coffee in an antique coffee grinder, but while traveling we grind coffee beans in the store. To turn espresso into a cappuccino, we use an Ikea milk frother. We have owned numerous frothers over the years, but this inexpensive Ikea version seems to hold out best. This in spite of our kids loving to make milk foam as well. And they are not particularly careful with it. At this point we own a percolator and a milk frother on two continents, and all we need to be able to feel fancy is ground coffee, milk or cream and a gas stove. I don’t think we would take this coffee setup on a bike trip, but in our little converted bus as well as in our travel trailer it works like a champ.
2 Leatherman knife
My Leatherman knife has traveled with us since 2006. Even in my kitchen at home, I prefer this knife over all other knifes. So far it has never needed sharpening, it is easy to clean and does not rust. It is a decent size knife without being too big to handle small fruits and veggies.
3 Lodge Cast-iron cookware
Growing up in Europe I was not used to cooking with cast-iron. But being married to an American, I adopted all kinds of good (and probably bad) habits over the year. My husband seriously considered traveling with our frying pan to Europe last year, and he would have had I not intervened. We love our Lodge cast-iron cookware, because not only does it cook our food in an even and chemical free way, these pots and pans can be used on most types of stoves as well as on a camp fire and in an oven. There have been so many days this summer where we had a fire going anyway to chase away mosquitos, so the step to experiment with all kinds of dishes cooked on fire was quickly made. The kids’ favorite? Probably popcorn.
4 Stainless steel multifunctional cookware
Lucky me picked up this stainless steel multifunctional pot at a thrift store years ago, and short of bringing it overseas it has lived and traveled with us ever since. A large stock pot is essential for making any type of soup. I cook pasta and easily drain the cooking water when it’s done and the top insert is my vegetable steamer. I don’t need to add a colander to my kitchen because this one works just fine. It takes a little space in my tiny kitchen cabinet, but this is definitely worth it. Heck, I have even used it for canning.
We love our sporks, which are multifunctional utensils and ideal for camping. At times we have traveled for months at a time with only our Leatherman knife and a few sporks, and we have always wondered why we need more than these few simple utensils? For the kids we use a smaller version.
During our travels we have lost utensils, broken glasses, mugs and even a melamine bowl. However, we have never actually felt the need to replace anything that has naturally left our kitchen. It is amazing how little you actually need. Now that we are down to four mugs though, one will need to be added to the collection. Guess what will be under our Christmas tree? Now, I won’t deny that I sorely miss my blender, but only for smoothies. Soups can easily be eaten chunky as well, and I manage to replace my blender often with my Dutch grandmother’s potato masher. For mixing we have a new but old-fashioned device, saving ourselves some muscle power and energy. It all works, but it isn’t fancy. If I were to move back into a larger kitchen, I would probably add the blender to my current inventory, but that’s about it. More stuff only creates more clutter, let alone more dishes. A minimalist kitchen really isn’t so bad.