The Capsule Kitchen Checklist

  • Are you putting together your first kitchen?
  • Are you exploring a minimalist kitchen?
  • Do you wonder how to start minimalism?
  • Are you enjoying your “Capsule Wardrobe” and are you ready to apply the same approach to your kitchen?
  • Are you moving into a tiny house?
  • Are you downsizing the family home?
  • Would you love a great checklist that you can adapt to your own needs?
  • Would you like to live a more frugal, simple, and zero waste life?

If your answer to any of those questions was “Yes” then you are in the right place!

I have created a capsule kitchen checklist that will help you put together a collection of kitchen gear that is just right for you, saving you money, saving space, moving you toward your zero waste goals… and all that without sacrificing your ability to cook great food!

This is a simple living hack of the highest order! 

Building a capsule kitchen will allow you the freedom to own less, clean less, and find simpler ways to do the things you used to depend on equipment to do.  In short, you’ll gain skills, but you’ll also gain a cozy minimalist tiny house kitchen that lacks nothing except clutter!  You’ll enjoy the contentment that comes from having only what you need, nothing more or less.

If you downsize the contents of the family home, it’ll suddenly feel much larger.  You may even find that it’s time to downsize the family home as well as the contents – and living in a smaller home is the most effective strategy for saving money.  Frugal living doesn’t have to feel like sacrifice.  It can be luxurious when you discover that you can still cook everything you love, but without needing to dirty as many dishes.  And using less power tools in the kitchen is another effective strategy for saving money, one that you’ll appreciate each time you open the electric bill.  That’s why I created the Capsule Kitchen Checklist with an emphasis on kitchen tools that do not require power… tools like a simple whisk that you can use in place of a mixer to whip up Pavlova.  I know it can be done, because I’ve done it.  And thousands of cooks through the generations have made great food without modern kitchen appliances.  Simplifying our lives isn’t a step away from progress, it’s a step toward liberation.  And it’s exactly this kind of simple living wise thinking approach that will bring you closer to your dream life.

Ready to go purchase an Amazon tiny house kit?  LOL!  Perhaps we’ll just start with the kitchen today.

Get Your Capsule Kitchen Checklist First, get your free Capsule Kitchen Checklist PDF, print it out, then grab a pen. 

Then start here:

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Use this website to get strategy and inspiration and work through your kitchen as you listen to the videos.  You’ve got this!

You’re going to love the transformation of your kitchen!  You may even find (as I and a number of my friends have) that transforming your kitchen may also transform you.

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Purposeful Simplicity

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This is the first video in my “Lessons I Learned from living in a Tiny House” Series… here is “Purposeful Simplicity” based on chapter two of my new book, Kitchen Simplicity, now available on Amazon.



For more practical steps on right-sizing your kitchen (which is way more fun than downsizing) click on “home” above and explore the modules for creating your own capsule kitchen that works if you’re moving into a tiny house, studio apartment, Airstream, cottage, or any other kind of micro-living situation.


And as always, thanks so much for following along with my tiny house journey!  I’m here to help you navigate the transition to a simpler life in a smaller space – or to help you live more expansively in the home you already enjoy.

All my best,

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One Tiny Thanksgiving

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This article first appeared in the Tiny House Magazine Nov 2018

From a culinary perspective, Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday.  I mean… when has turkey ever been anyone’s protein of choice?


Yams or Sweet Potatoes with

Particularly baffling  are the candied yams that were often served with the meal… even though they were as sweet or sweeter than the dessert served at the end.  What the heck is this dish?  Roasted sweet potatoes are wonderful.   This.  Is.  Not.

For a number of years I served anything but traditional Thanksgiving food.  One year it was home made pizza and French Silk pie, I remember the pie.  Turkey?  Nobody remembers turkey.  Except the guy who burned down his garage with the fryer.

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As published in the Tiny House Magazine, Nov 2018

71Wh80iIrtL._SX425_Another year I was hosting a number of Korean women who were exchange students who hadn’t experienced a traditional American Thanksgiving.  That year I did the whole nine yards of traditional Thanksgiving food (minus the candied yams) and it was good.  Our guests were so sweet about the food and it was the only meal in our house they didn’t cover with Sriracha so I’m guessing they were pretty much caught in the seventh circle of polite hell for that entire meal.

In those days I had a 288 sq ft kitchen, and I wrote myself a schedule and measured my baking dishes to make sure I could fit everything in the oven to have it all hot and ready at the right time.  Our first tiny home could literally fit inside that kitchen with room to spare!  Same with our Skoolie.  If you really love traditional American Thanksgiving fare, how do you go about that in a tiny house kitchen?IMG_9081

IMG_9103 (2)I took a crack at that this week.  I was going for a one-pot-wonder version of Thanksgiving.  And of course the pot in question would be a cast iron skillet.  We picked out two cute little Cornish Game Hens and I added baby white, redskin, and purple potatoes, carrots, celery, one onion cut into cubes, garlic cloves, butter, and rosemary.  What you can’t see from the photo is that I lined the skillet with bacon, and added a few tablespoons of butter.  I topped it with freshly cracked black pepper and my favorite applewood smoked salt.  Surely this would be a show stopper.

I roasted it in my cast iron skillet for an 1.5 hours at 350 degrees – and it was still pretty cute.  Just like a real chicken, only smaller and cuter.  Perfect for the tiny house community, right?  The simplicity of a dish like this really appeals to me.  To bad it just tasted like chicken. 

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Roasted Cornish Hens with Vegetables


Maybe if it were served with a salad of micro-greens and baby tomatoes?

For dessert, how about these insanely adorable individual pumpkin cakes from the Preppy Kitchen on YouTube?

However, assuming you and I might like to do something besides petting pumpkin cakes during the week leading up to the feast… I’ll pass.  I *might* consider making one pumpkin cake made in a full size bundt pan . . . but making those little individual guys?  Yeah.  Not happening at my house.  Adorable though.  Like bang-my-head-against-the-wall adorable.  Sometimes bigger is better.  Wait… did I just say that in the tiny house community?  I don’t conform well.


Xaver and I went tiny in the fall of 2014 and we loved our cute little mortgage-free house.  It was so cozy and liberating!  Then November rolled around and that’s the one time of the year that I want apple pie.  And as I looked around at my adorable tiny house… the cold hard reality sank in.  A) There wasn’t room for making pastry. B) There wasn’t a reliable oven that could safely bake a pie for an hour and C) do you have any idea how big a little mess is in a tiny house?!  And that’s when I got grumpy.  This is the point in the story when my handsome Austrian husband nods and says “so true” and everyone laughs.  Buggaheads. lol!

IMG_20170107_181712168 (2)That year my “Attitude of Gratitude” was parked on the shoulder of the freeway with everyone else zooming past.  None of it was cute anymore and I just felt poor.  Did I mention grumpy?

I was a happily married woman with no mortgage, taking life on my own terms.  And I was wasting my energy feeling poor?  Yeah.  No!  That’s when I learned that it’s simple enough to ask a friend if I can come to their house and bake apple pies.  Who would say no to that?!  I’ve made apple pies at our favorite AirBNB in Norfolk – the host happened to be out of town at the time.  I knew he wouldn’t mind finding the homemade apple pie in the freezer when he got home.  I didn’t know about the Breville Smart Oven Air at the time, and that would have cleared up my self pity laden, poverty stricken, painful little pie problem.  It’s starting to sound like a rash.

IMG_20170104_134213919_HDRMy blog post on Choosing the Right Oven for our Skoolie Kitchen.

I even made pies in the church kitchen for a group of homeless folks.  That experience gave me something I sorely needed: perspective.  And then I grew some gratitude.  Gratitude is powerful stuff.

I slowly began to realize that living tiny wasn’t about sacrifice and denying myself things I enjoyed.equilibrium of simplicity  It WAS, however, about embracing purposeful simplicity.  The more I embraced simplicity, the more our house that just happened to be tiny became our haven-home.  A few years later my “aha moment” was that a tiny house can’t change your life, a house doesn’t have that kind of power.  However, Simplicity changes everything.  The more you embrace Simplicity, the more your house (whatever size it is) becomes your haven-home.

Smaller is still better unless we are talking about OCD mini pumpkin cakes.  Those are just ridiculous.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Focaccia Bread that Ruined Everything

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First available in the September issue of the Tiny House Magazine.

My Austrian husband makes bread about once a week. He doesn’t use a recipe, and I haven’t been able to tell if it’s because he has a memorized recipe tucked away in his brain, or if he really is just making it up as he goes along… either way, fresh European crusty bread appeared around here each Tuesday, or did. Until this focaccia bread ruined everything.


pinterest 1This recipe is pretty simple and requires only a bowl and wooden spoon and a cast iron skillet, and a bit of space on the counter for kneading the bread, which makes it ideal for a tiny house kitchen.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon basil

Pinch black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 cloves of garlic minced fine (we love garlic!)

1 tablespoon Parmesan

½ cup mozzarella

Optional toppings like bell pepper, onion, olives, and pepperoni as desired.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the olive oil and warm water. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. In a large bowl turn 2 tablespoons of good olive oil to coat the bowl and the dough. Cover with a damp cloth, and let it raise in a warm place for 20 minutes. (Turn the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes to warm it, then turn it back off and put the dough in there to raise.)

When the dough has doubled, turn it out into your cast iron skillet, using the oil in the bowl to grease the skillet. Gently spread to size and top with minced garlic, bell pepper, onion, and cheese as desired.


Focaccia bread ready to bake.

Allow it to raise a second time for another 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Just yesterday we were talking about focaccia bread with our friends who lived in Italy for a decade. It’s made differently in different parts of Italy. In some places they add olives, in other places they add cheese or bits of sausage. So here’s your opportunity to get creative and add your favorite things on this dough. But don’t treat it like pizza and load it up with toppings or the bread won’t be able to rise and will have a heavier texture. Sprinkle on the minced garlic, a few slices of green pepper, onion, pepperoni and your favorite cheese. Bake it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown.


Serve warm!

My Austrian had a few bites, commented on how good it was.

IMG_8957And then…

I can’t even bear to write this.

“I guess I don’t have to make bread anymore.”


I did not see that coming.

I should have, I am not a rookie. But I totally walked right into that one. This is the focaccia bread that ruined MONTHS of fresh bread that happened at our place without me ever lifting a finger, he even washed the dishes afterward.

All that.


You were warned.


Plates are entirely optional!

Made it.  Ate it.  It was good!

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Skoolie Tour

We’re back on YouTube again, this is our second time on Tiny House Expedition’s YouTube Channel.  This time it’s a detailed tour of our Skoolie.  Isn’t this fun?  Christian Parsons and Alexis Stephens are amazing documentary filmmakers!  And since they’ve discovered how nice the weather is out west, we don’t get to see them nearly enough.  lol!

Our Skoolie looks different than this video after we added the stone on the kitchen countertop.  Every time we post a photo or video of our little home on wheels, another project will take shape and it will evolve again.  I’ve got plans for curtains, cushions, and lighting… just for starters.


And if you missed the last video from Tiny House Expedition – it’s here.  And if you’re considering going tiny, pick a vehicle and get started.  You can do it!!

Behind the Scenes

BTW, I’m starting a Patreon Community where you can support my work if you’d like.

Let’s make today fantastic!

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A Visit with a Cinematographer!

TH ExpeditionA while back, documentary storytellers Christian Parsons and Alexis DeHart Stephens were coming through the Shenandoah Valley in their tiny house (Tiny House Expedition) and they stayed with us a few days.  We had so much fun hanging out with these interesting people who have been hard at work inspiring & empowering folks to redefine home & rethink housing.  I’m a fan, can you tell?

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Photography by Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition

Last week they released a new video on their youtube channel, AND IT’S ABOUT US!  And it’s not about our public faces, so to speak.  They really did a great job of capturing us just being us!  They put us at ease and we had a great time!  Christian has some killer cinematographic skills and Alexis is great at asking great questions and it was interesting to see how they work together.  It was fun to be the subject of their work, and now we are so happy to share their spectacular work with you!  And believe me, Christian had some serious editing to do because when we get talking, we can be a little long winded!  lol!

We made pizza on the grill while they were here.  This is one of my favorite things to make, it’s pretty easy and adding fire into the pizza equation is a really really good idea!  Crispy crust with melted cheese and a few toppings?  Yes please!  Maybe slightly burnt here at there?  Even better!  If memory serves, Xaver also made crepes one morning, and that was also fun.  He’s really great at making crepes and I always know I’m in for a treat when he starts mixing up crepe batter!  Delicious!Pinterest 1

Drop over to YouTube to see the video, and make sure you subscribe to the Tiny House Expedition channel while you are at it.   They release a Tuesday video on where they are currently parked, and a Friday video with lots of great tiny home inspiration.  Thanks so much, Christian and Alexis, for doing such a great job sharing our story!  We really appreciate it!

Watch the Video.

Visit their website. (They have one of the most beautiful websites I’ve ever seen!)  They’ve got tons of helpful resources available for anyone considering going tiny!

They will be doing a tour our of Skoolie soon, so make sure you SUBSCRIBE TO THEIR YOUTUBE CHANNEL so you don’t miss it.  Christian and Alexis are consistantly putting out valuable content!  They are a great resource to the Tiny House Movement and anyone considering going tiny!

Christian and Alexis, I hope our paths cross again soon!

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An Unintentional Manifesto on Simplicity.

product-brandingI’ve been thinking about branding a lot lately.  The advice I got early on was to keep my “brand” very narrow, to just talk about our tiny house experiences and not to talk about our work as Pipe Organ Conservationists, and not to talk about how much I love to write, paint, and weave… etc… because all of that is “Off Brand”.  Here’s the thing… that’s just plain not working for me.  So I’m throwing that advice out the window as well as the idea that I’m here to build a brand.  Ok? I’m replacing that with the reality that I’m just here to talk about our lives.  It’s not a brand – it’s just us.  Period.

I am passionate about helping people navigate the transition to a simple life in a smaller space!  Embracing minimalism for a season is a great way to shake ourselves loose from materialism and consumerism.  It’s also a great way to begin to shake ourselves loose from the idea that we can gain meaning and significance by owning a thing – which is a message that dominant culture sells us that is damaging on every level.  Shaking ourselves free of these things is important self-work because we deserve to be free.

Here’s the thing.  If there is a mountain between here and where you want to be, and you find the tunnel through that mountain… you spend your time and focus on that tunnel for a season.  But if you don’t move on through the tunnel, instead of camping out there, then you’re not going to experience the wide open spaces of the valley beyond.  And that would suck.

tunnelsMinimalism is the tunnel.  Minimizing the mundane things in your life is a really important thing to focus on – for a season – moving through the tunnel.  But at some point we gain traction and something really great begins to happen.  This is the very best part.  All that time and energy we spent on working the job that was required because of the big mortgage… not to mention all the work it took to maintain that big life… when that’s all out of the picture and things are simpler… space opens up.  It’s like coming out of the tunnel into the valley beyond.  Now, I’m not talking about heaven, lol!  I don’t want to misrepresent minimalism as a once-and-done king of thing – because it’s not.  For many of us it’s a path to freedom that we will need to stay on.  What Simplicity offers is the opportunity to spend much less time on mundane things – and that opens up more time for purpose and meaning.  In short – Simplicity is a key to the good life!

IMG_6054So here is one thing that gives us a sense of meaning:  Xaver (the name is pronounced Xavier, but his name is the German spelling without the “i”) is a Certified Pipe Organ Builder and that means he is able to diagnose a malfunctioning instrument and create solutions – even if they have to be made from scratch.  He’s also trained in piano, guitar, and violin/viola/cello/bass instrument building and restoration. However, we only take on pipe organs and pianos since that is what most interests us.  In the United States we are losing authentic pipe organs to the fake electronic instruments.  Every day we can tune, voice, and restore an authentic instrument to keep it at peek performance is another day the skilled salesmen don’t get to rip another pipe organ out and replace it with a glorified stereo system.  Some days this feels like a rescue operation, some days it’s just simple respect for a remarkable art form.  Pipe organs are amazing, complex machines, and being in the sanctuary where one is being played well can be an incredibly moving experience.  It is for me, as I grew up Mennonite and it is rare to find a pipe organ in a Mennonite church building.  Pipe organs were created to inspire worship and that is our focus and the mission in our work.  This work matters to us, it’s very intentional and important work to us.  It’s not especially lucrative because we keep our prices affordable for the sake of the congregations we serve.  Therefore, Simplicity becomes a key part of the way we live in order to live this dream and do this work that matters so much to us.

Fuchsia Ad 2I have had a dream for many years of being a published author, and living in a tiny home and embracing Simplicity is what made it possible for me to see that dream come true.  And in time, I became a published author.  YAY!  That means the world to me.  I made a list a year or so ago, and there were 25 books on that list of books I want to write.  Twenty five.  That’s crazy, but I’m on it.  Some of them are partially written.  And Simplicity is a key part of the way we live that makes it possible for me to keep writing books and creating resources to help other folks find Simplicity.  This feels missional, since materialism and consumerism have become so dominant in our culture.  I believe we all deserve to be free.  That’s what keeps me writing.

2 UsXaver and I are creatives.  He’s got an amazing inventive engineering mind.  I’m an artist and I love color, yarn, and painting.  These are the things I do to keep a balance in my life.  When I get a little overwhelmed with working with words and crafting messages, then I have to go back to the colors and textures of painting and weaving to recharge.  Being an artist is both self care and self expression for me.  And every time that Xaver gets to create and invent and do something purely for the sake of developing an idea… that’s also energizing for him.

As you follow along with this blog, you’ll see some pipe organ stuff, some creative stuff, and no matter what photos you see on Instagram or whether or not you pick up my book to read it… I want you to know that Simplicity is the tunnel we walked through to find this amazing life that we’re living.  Simplicity is what keeps us working, innovating, and doing restoration work in the world of pianos and pipe organs.  Simplicity is what makes it possible for me to weave, paint, and write books.  We aren’t getting rich doing any of this, but we do enjoy a meaningful life and that’s where it’s at for us.  True wealth is doing the work that matters most to us, when it’s lucrative, and also when it isn’t.

Purposeful Simplicity is the tunnel through the life-constricting mountain of materialism into the valley beyond where we get to live a more meaningful existence.   We have not arrived, I don’t want to even make it sounds like it’s a once and done thing – not at all.  We’re on this journey and we will keep at it.  You are welcome to walk with us on this journey and I have written some resources that will help and you can find them in the “sales” section of this page if you’d like – and if not – you’re still welcome here!!  Simplicity is powerful stuff, Y’all!


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Random Things I love about the Tiny House Community

We really enjoyed the Mid Atlantic Tiny House Expo this weekend in West Friendship Maryland!  We’re back and making a fast pivot to Pipe Organ Conservation, but wanted to take a few moments and share some thoughts about events like these. Please excuse my bedhead and the fact that I’m moving pretty slow this morning.  OH, and I forgot to use my microphone, so please turn up your speaker and hopefully you’ll be able to hear my thoughts.  I just wanted to give you an authentic moment in the life of a tiny house speaker and author, and I’m sorry, but I didn’t even comb my hair to do this.  I share a few of the things I love most about an event like this one and the community that makes these things possible.

Fuchsia Ad 1My very favorite thing is watching people come through and experience tiny houses – sometimes for the first time.  Most people can’t afford the $100K buildings that are sometimes at these shows, and that’s fine.  What I love is when a college student explores the inside of a Sprinter van, or a box truck, or a DIY tiny and they look around.  I got to see the light go on for a few people in those moments – you can almost see them realize that this is something they CAN do.  And if you can live in a van/bus/tinyhouse/whatever it is… and live simply?  There are so many opportunities and so much freedom suddenly available to you.  And I love seeing that happen!  I love seeing the moment when people start to realize that this life IS within reach!  You CAN do it.

A tiny house isn’t going to change your life – the simplicity that you HAVE TO LEARN to make the tiny house thing work?  That’s the game changer part of all this!  I love tiny houses, I went tiny in 2014, and I’ve been to a lot of tiny house festivals and toured many beautiful homes.  It’s not the house that will change your life – it’s Simplicity that is required to live comfortably there.  And I suppose that’s why I’m still here talking about Kitchen Simplicity (Both my book – and the broader idea) of really embracing Simplicity – no matter where or how you live – or whether your home has wheels or not.  In the end the mindset is everything – and that also happens to be my favorite part about my first book – Kitchen Simplicity!  (Which… by the way… I noticed the Kindle book was available on Amazon for only $2.99 – and it’s usually $4.99 so if Kindle is your preferred way to get a book then this is good timing for you!)

Unfortunately, sometimes my ipad malfunctions and I can’t upload my photos anymore – but I can still upload them to Instagram so pop over there and see photos and video from the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo.  It was great fun!

And remember, you can go tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well!

All my best,

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The Cast Iron Cookie

Aka: an Imaginary Conversation with Mark Bittman, Food writer of the New York Times

cast iron cookie

(Newscom TagID: acephotos106686)      [Photo via Newscom]

Mark Bittman, American Journalist

Hey Mark, I saw your article in the New York Times, man. “A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks” and I gotta tell ya man, I think you’re on to something. People do seem to think that having great kitchen gear will make them better cooks… and we can all appreciate the beautiful equipment the TV chefs use. I think you have a point, we may actually believe that some brands and products will make us better cooks. I’m not sure that’s true.  Copper pots and pans don’t come with creativity, they just don’t have that kind of power. And when in doubt – find a great recipe! The internet was MADE for recipes! Just hang out with the Minimalist Baker for like 10 minutes – just the photography alone will make you salivate.

knife best

A High Quality Messermeister Knife

Mark, where you lost me was when you started walking through the restaurant supply store, picking up various cheap tools… like actually cheap tools – not just inexpensive but seriously CHEAP. Dude, did you actually write in the NY Times that you use a $3 paring knife? Because you can seriously get your foodie card revoked for admitting that you use a cheap knife with a plastic handle… and you put it in writing where people could SEE it. Man, what were you thinking?! LOL, truth be told, I don’t really care that you use a cheap knife, I use a $20 knife pretty much every single day. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be useful. What bothers me is that you’re saying you use a disposable knife, and you’ll just pitch it after a while and get another one. Wait, what?  A disposable knife?  No. Just… no. My Austrian husband chimes in: “Organ builders and Luthiers sharpen and hone their tools – shouldn’t cooks be encouraged to buy quality tools and maintain them?” Um. Yes!


A “No-Frills” Kitchen Still Cooks.


Mark, here’s what I really don’t get. Your column was called “The Minimalist” and you’ve been writing about food and cooking since before I was even in grade school. I thought “quality over quantity” was one of the mantras of the minimalist movement, man. So what gives here? You seem to be suggesting a kitchen full of cheap kitchen gear will get the job done, but what about quality items that you purchase once and then use for life?  Isn’t there really something to be said for buying quality kitchen equipment so that you buy it only once?

quality over quantity

gorgeous saucepans

Beautiful high end copper cookware from Williams Sonoma.

I see that you recommend a small, medium, and large saucepan, 10 and 14 inch skillets, and a stock pot and ONE lid for all of that? And it’s true that the cheap aluminum ones are not much money, some of those are insanely cheap. Here’s what you may not really understand about me, your reader. I have a very special talent. I once melted aluminum on a stove top burner. It’s true. I know you wouldn’t think that was even possible… but I put a pot of chili on the burner and turned it on low, and then I went back to work. Later I came back to the kitchen (I lived in a monstrously huge house in those days) to give it a stir, and noticed a smell. Then I noticed the heat. I picked up the stainless steel pot and moved it to a hot pad beside the range… trailing molten aluminum as I went. Later, when everything had cooled and my heart started to beat normally again, I took apart the burner on the range to retrieve the aluminum paperweight I had created in the bottom of the range. That’s right, Mark. I melted the aluminum disk off the bottom of my stainless steel stock pot. Now that you know that about me, your reader, are you still suggesting that people like me purchase cheap aluminum cookware? No? Whew.  

C Carmen

Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie

Ok, fair question, and that’s “Missus Smartypants” to you… what would I tell the readers of the New York Times if I’m so smart? WHAT in my experience of being a restaurant owner and living in a micro-dwelling would I recommend to the dear readers of the New York Times? (Especially since I couldn’t tell the difference between the low setting and crucible setting on my cute vintage range.) Glad you asked, Mark. Gosh, what a guy!

sm 11 Pots & PansFirst of all, I would tell my readers to buy a cast iron Dutch Oven. It’s the sort of thing that even I can not destroy. We’ve used ours in our tiny house on a gas stove, and outside on the rocket stove and it still cleans up great! You can get the Lodge cast iron version for $40, the Lodge enamel version for $60, the French Staub version in some spectacular color for $190 and the Le Creuset version in even an more lovely color for $275. I have the 4.5 quart Le Creuset that I bought years ago (I only paid $150 for mine) and we use it often. I make all kinds of soup and stew in that pot, saute vegetables, roast beast in the oven and I even bake a loaf of bread in it from time to time. It’s a great all-purpose kitchen basic and the go-to dish for a whole pile of One Pot Wonder recipes.


The kitchen of our original tiny house on a sunny day in the winter.

The second thing on my list in a good basic sauce pan. I don’t think a person needs three sizes as you suggest, but then you weren’t writing for people who live in tiny houses. That’s more my gig. When space is at a premium, I think one sauce pan is plenty. Somewhere between a 2 and 3 quart is right in my opinion, and I like the All-Clad ones for a whopping $121, but I use an inexpensive $33 NuWave one and like it just fine. I don’t use it much because I reach for the Dutch Oven first, but I’m glad I have it and we use it.


Buttered and ready for cookie dough!

The final thing on my list is the kitchen standard for cooks everywhere, the cast iron skillet. They’re usually somewhere around $15 and can be purchased new or you can buy a used one in an antique store and the price will be roughly the same. Again, this one works indoors on the range and outside on the rocket stove and they are indestructible even for someone like me. They are heavy and I would pack a few heavier things like this in a box and put it in my car when we were moving the tiny house from one parking place to another.

14 MiscI would recommend getting and using lids for each of these three items. In a tiny house it is especially important to use the lids and also to have and use your exhaust fans to keep moisture from building up in your home because that can turn into a mold problem. Many of us in the tiny house world have a mold story. Not fun.

Mark, even if I give you grief for the $3 knife, I still think the larger idea of your article is still an excellent point. A no-frills super simple kitchen gear list really does “still cook” as you put it. We got used to having lots of stuff in our big kitchens, but the truth is that we can simplify a great deal and still make great food. Simplifying is not sacrificial if you do it right – and that’s why I wrote my own Super-Simple Kitchen Gear Listthe super simple kitchen gear list 600 and then I turned that into a Workshop to walk people through it in more detail.  And while I’m not big on cheap kitchen equipment, and we don’t use anything disposable in our kitchen, my Buyer’s Guide can help your reader choose the kitchen tools that really do work quite well. And even a $100 knife that stands in for the unneeded food processor will save power and space… and that’s a beautiful thing. That gorgeous knife may even be a good deal when you consider what a pleasure it is to cook with a loved one enjoying great conversation rather than the noise of some obnoxious power tool.

Mark, thanks for pointing out that you wrote that article way back in 2007. The beauty of your article is that it’s still so relevant that minimalists are still pointing people to that article more than a decade later. Well done, Sir.

IMG_5953Also Mark, here’s my Cast Iron Cookie recipe. It only makes one cookie. (Quality, not quantity) You’ll just have to suffer through.  (And no need for a mixer for this recipe – so it’s perfect for a tiny house!)

¾ cup softened butter

2 eggs – we got these fresh from the farmer this morning.

1 teaspoon vanilla

I combined these ingredients with a wooden spoon. No power tools needed. Then I added:

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ cups brown sugar

¾ cups white sugar

1 cup oatmeal

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chips – I used chocolate chips and then threw in some M&M’s as well.

1 cup nuts – I used almonds

Spread dough in a buttered cast iron skillet and top with more chocolate chips if desired (or M&M’s) then bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Test with toothpick for desired doneness. I prefer cookies goey, my Austrian likes them crunchy. You choose.IMG_5952

These just came out of the oven and I carved a little bite out of the side.  Then that one was so good that I went back for another little nibble… then Xaver must have discovered them because every time I came back there was more missing.  These are absolutely delicious! 



Enjoy them while they last!  And remember… it’s just as true with cookies and it is with cookware: Quality over quantity.

Learn more on my Super-Simple Kitchen Gear list Workshop. 

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