#6 Vinnie Vlog: Choosing the Right Oven for our Skoolie Kitchen

breville-smart-oven-air-oWhen a retired pastry chef and restaurant owner chooses the oven for her Skoolie… which one does she choose?  Ha!  It took me a while and a stack of research, but here are the reasons I choose the Breville Smart Oven Air (not an affiliate link).

  1. Since it will be the only oven in the Skoolie, it needs to be able to actually bake things.  In other words, it needs to be more than a toaster oven.  We had a glorified toaster oven in our first Tiny and it was good for many things but sometimes the limitations were vexing.  I read the product material and the reviews until I was confident that this oven could handle any baking challenge we are likely to throw at it.
  2. Size: It’s a small oven that is roughly the same size as the larger toaster ovens on the market.  It takes less space than a small size range, and since our Skoolie will have less than 130 sq ft of living space, that was important.  It still has enough space inside the oven to roast a 14 pound turkey, as long as the turkey is square.  LOL!  Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
  3. Power: It takes less power than a small range.  It may still require more power than a small solar power system can handle, however… we have plans for an off-grid bread oven outside.  No worries.  And this will still be great for those times and places where we are able to plug in an umbilical cord.  I won’t use it at the same time as a hair dryer or curling iron (obvs, as I don’t own those things) or when the heater is on.  We already have that habit so that won’t be a problem.
  4. Features: This oven has some really fancy features!  The one that really caught my attention was the dehydrate function.  When we sold the restaurant, the new chef/owner wanted my Excalibur dehydrator and so I gave it to him.  I’m still kicking myself – can you tell?  I’ve missed having fresh yogurt, kale chips, and pineapple flowers (among other things).  Now FINALLY, I can do all of those things again – without an additional appliance in my home.  SCORE!  As a bonus – there is an “Air Fry” function and I think that might be fun to explore.
  5. Price: The Breville Smart Oven Air is $399 pretty much everywhere.  I checked.  This is not a cheap item but there are cheaper oven models in the product line.  Less bells and whistles = more affordable.  It is still a better value than buying a full size (or even a fun sized) range.  And we already have a induction cook top.

NOTICE: There is a lot included in the box with this oven, so wait to purchase bits and pieces until you’ve seen what comes with it.  I didn’t realize that and now I have an extra air fry basket that I don’t need.

MONEY SAVING HACK: I bought the oven using the ibotta app, so I got money back on my purchase making the price $339 instead of $399 – every bit helps!  Referral link: get your $10 bonus when you sign up and get started.  I have loved using the ibotta app at the grocery and online stores.  I have gotten $134 back since I downloaded the free app 47 days ago.  YAY!

Xaver and I will enjoy using this cute little oven in our new haven-home!  I think it is the right oven for us and I can’t wait to move in and get cookin! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Microwave – Day 22

We’ve come a long way.  Our equipment has become very sophisticated and very powerful.  We can now make food very quickly.  With all the great inventions and new technology, we’ve managed to make food faster.  However, we have not managed to make food better.  That’s why it’s no sacrifice to me, to get rid of a microwave.  It’s no sacrifice to skip the freezer section of the market where the overly processed microwave “food” is found in all that packaging.  It’s no sacrifice to cook great meals and reheat them in a saucepan on the stove, or by heating them in the oven.  It’s no sacrifice to make real popcorn, and buying popcorn kernels is much cheaper than microwave popcorn, and doesn’t come with all that extra packagine.  It’s no sacrifice to make a fresh cup of coffee rather than reheating an old one.  Find out how to brew Tiny House Coffee here.

12 coffee

Xaver’s Tiny House Coffee

In a tiny house situation, the power a microwave requires may also be a problem since it may overwhelm the system or cause a breaker to flip.  Trust me, that always happens when it’s cold, rainy, and after dark and then one of us has to go out in that weather with a flashlight to get the breaker turned back on!  lol!  In an off-grid situation, running a microwave may not even be an option because they are such energy hogs.  So part of becoming comfortable with tiny house living may include finding other ways to cook food without the use of the microwave.

Finally, there are some very real health concerns in microwaved food.  I’ve read the results of various research on the topic and I’m convinced there are valid concerns.  However, I’m not interested in debating any of that.  I’m not a scientist but I do respect what scientist do.  For me it’s much simpler to cook without it to remove the question, and the concern – and even the debate.  I really don’t want the debate!  In fact, I am willing to be ridiculed on this topic (and have been – at length!) rather than even engage in the battle.  I love peace.  I love people, even when we disagree.  I’m very secure that the choice I’ve made is the right one for me and of course I recognize that some folks won’t agree.  And that’s actually fine with me.  I choose not to eat microwaved food and I prefer not to eat in restaurants where I know the food will be microwaved.  Food artists don’t cook that way anyway, so that’s hardly a sacrifice.  No problem.  In short, I lose nothing by avoiding a microwave.  I skip the health concern and I eat better food.  Where’s the sacrifice?

16 mealsIf you have a microwave, take it out and look it over.  It’s an automatic toss if it is damaged or malfunctioning.  Put it in the garage or other distant room of the house for a while.  Clean the spot where the microwave was and consider your kitchen without it.  Make a contest of it and see who can go the longest without using it.  You have nothing to lose.

What you “need” is based on what you’re used to.  Change what you’re used to, and it will change what you need.  So the best way to make a real change in your kitchen is to simply dive in and get going.  You may not think that you can “go tiny”, but I know you can.  And from my years of experience living in 120 square feet, I can honestly tell you that what you gain makes every “sacrifice” worth it.  (Otherwise I would not have purchased a short bus where the living space will be 110 square feet!)  In time you might even find that none of it was actually a sacrifice, at least that’s how I feel.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Tackle The Pantry – Day 15

Congratulations, you are well past the half way mark in this series!  Well done!  Are you loving your kitchen’s new lean look?  Yes, me too!

20 HomesteadingToday we focus on the pantry where you store food.  For folks who live in tiny houses, this isn’t a big deal – the collection is very small.  But if you asked me to do this 10 years ago when I lived in the big house on the golf course – cleaning out my pantry would have taken more than a day because my pantry was huge.  No matter where you are or how much stuff is in your food collection, taking the time to clean it out is an excellent idea and a very rewarding task.  Let’s tackle it together.

Remember to donate and recycle.  Plus, everything you put in the donate box today is fair game to be used this weekend.  But if you don’t use these foods this weekend then away they go.  There is no point in laboring the point.  Donate, and in some cases you may choose to compost the contents and recycle the container.  A clean organized pantry awaits.  You can do it, I know you can.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Coffee & Tea – Day 11

Because we didn’t have room in our tiny house for a coffee maker, we got creative.  The results are in the video.  Here is Tiny House Coffee & Tea.  PLUS, my Austrian makes a special guest appearance showing how he makes his coffee.

2 SimplicityOur culture makes a habit of making simple things complicated, and marketing tries to convince this that this complexity is to simplify things for us.  Going tiny for Xaver and I has meant making complicated things simple again, and we enjoy this very much.  That sometimes means going old-school and doing things the way our grandparents did them.

At the beginning as you contemplate your shiny coffee gear and think about downsizing – this might seem like a sacrifice.  I want to invite you to go back to the earlier post about choosing your favorite things in your kitchen.  If you coffee or tea system is your favorite thing, then the task becomes how to make space in your now smaller kitchen for this production.  We’ve found that one of the keys to enjoying a tiny space and making it feel less sacrificial is to enjoy our favorite simple luxuries along the way.  This includes sometimes having a little Amarula in my tea, or drinking it from a luxuriously beautiful china tea cup and stirring it with a silver spoon.  This interplay of simplicity and beauty brings us much satisfaction.  It is from this satisfaction that I can challenge you to look at different habits and consider thoughtfully the choices that are right for you and your family in light of your own tiny house.

Spend some time today with your coffee and tea equipment and ingredients.  Add a few things to your donation box and think of ways to make the process more earth friendly.  You can do it.

Have fun with the process, I’m not here to pressure you into anything, I simply offer you an alternative that comes from our years of living in 125 square feet. 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Pots & Pans – Day 10

11 SaucepansThis is one of the most rewarding parts of the kitchen to tackle because you can make a big difference pretty quickly.  Take out all of your pots and pans, and go over them with these principles in mind.  Then clean out the cabinet, and add items to your donation boxes.  You’re getting quite a collection of things to donate, aren’t you?!  Post a photo with #KitchenSimplicity and/or tag me so I get to see your progress.

As for storing these items, I’ve found that the best way for storing bulky weirdly shaped items like this is to hang them on the wall.  They take up a lot of space in a kitchen cabinet and this is a trick I learned from the Pros.  In the Tiny House Foodie kitchen the pans are hanging from a bathroom towel rack, and the lids are hanging on a curtain rod.  Of course there are options that were actually intended for pots and pans as well but use your creativity to personalize your tiny house kitchen.  Take a look around and see what you have handy and consider hanging your Right-Sized collection of pots and pans.  Items like a cast iron skillet may be a little too heavy to hang, and I keep my dutch oven on the range most of the time.

It’s time to come out of the woodwork and let me know you are following along with this video series.  Use the #KitchenSimplicity hashtag, or tweet to me @tinyhousefoodie.  I am looking forward to meeting you and hearing how this process is for you.   Thanks for watching and following along, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Cutting Boards & Knives – Day 9

10 knivesToday we tackle your collection of knives and cutting boards to choose our favorites and downsize the rest.  I’m a retired chef and restaurant owner, so you know I appreciate a fine knife… however… my recommendations on this may surprise you.

Take out all your knives, clean and sharpen them all, and put back only the ones you will use on a regular basis.  Package the rest carefully and add them to the donation box, marking them carefully so the volunteers unpacking the box don’t hurt themselves.

Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Flatware – Day 8

9 flatwareGood morning, it’s time to take a look at your flatware and choose your favorites, then add the rest to the donation box, and clean out the drawer or containers.  Again, don’t allow marketing to lock you into ideas of formal and casual, or make you feel that you have to keep sets or pieces you don’t use just for the sake of some notion about “value”.  If you have grandmother’s silver, take that out and access the situation.  Choose the pieces you appreciate and enjoy, choose the pieces that feel somehow special and allow the rest to go to the donation box or give to family or friends.  You’ll end up setting a table where each element has meaning and function, and that will be a delight for the senses.

I choose miss-matched silver pieces, some from my family, and some I happened upon at a lovely antique mall where Xaver and I had a great time exploring all the different patterns and choosing the individual items we liked the best.  Using these beautiful knives, forks, and spoons is so special because they are each beautiful, and because of the memories we have of picking them out and enjoying them together in our tiny house.  These beautiful details remind us that living in a tiny house is a purposeful choice, and not a sacrifice.  We are very blessed.

How are you doing on these challenges so far?  Leave me a comment and let me know your favorite parts of the series so far.  And as always, thanks for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Glassware – Day 7

9 bowlGone are the days of having a special glass for every kind of drink served in your home.  Wow, the marketers really got us on that one, didn’t they?  lol!  In tiny house living we are much more creative and flexible.  Never mind the “right” glass… what’s your favorite glass?  Automatically donate any plastic drink ware and recycle any cracked or chipped glasses and choose your favorite travel mug instead of keeping a cabinet full of them.  Watch the video and then make your selections, moving the rest to the donate box.  Then clean out the kitchen cabinet and return only the ones you intend to keep.  And as always, thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it.29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Plates and Bowls – Day 6

8 how many platesWelcome back to the Right-Sizing your Kitchen video series.  Today we’ll be talking about how many plates and bowls to keep in your tiny house and honestly it depends on whether or not you have a dishwasher in your tiny house, and it also depends on how much you intend to invite people into your home to share a meal with you.  Practically speaking, we can invite a max of three other folks into our home at one time.  Since we live in 125 square feet with no loft, it is quickly overwhelming to have folks standing around in the limited floor space.  So having a total of 5 folks at our table is do-able in principle, but not entirely practical.  We’ve had four at our table and that is cozy and marvelous.  We’ve found that the intimate space of our home lends itself to deeper and warmer connections between folks around our table, and for that reason we really love having folks in our home.  I talk about hospitality at length in my book, so maybe I’ll leave that there at the moment.  Check out the video and give some thought to the plates and bowls in your home.  How many is right for you?  Which ones are your favorite?  If you plan to go tiny temporarily, then where will you store the items you aren’t using for now?  Move the unwanted items to your boxes for your favorite charity, clean out the kitchen cabinets where those items used to be,  and congratulate yourself for having completed another day in the “Right-Sizing Your Kitchen” video series.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Taming Trash – Day 5

One thing we quickly learned living in our tiny house of 125 square feet was that TRASH is a BIG deal!  Even a little bit of trash can feel like a lot in a tiny space.  I picked up a book on Zero Waste living (Zero Waste Home) that helped me find strategies to A) keep trashing from entering our home to begin with and B) manage trash more efficiently once it did.

Zero Waste living is based on the usual “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” ideas, but also adds “Rot” (compost) and “Refuse” to the list… meaning that we shop in a way that brings less trash in the house and refuse freebies, etc.  Using cloth bags instead of allowing more plastic shopping bags in the house is another example.  Avoiding products that are packaged in plastic, especially single use plastics, and instead choosing recycle-able packaging.  Glass is the best way to store food, so we collected canning jars instead of plastic storage containers.

What are ways you deal with trash effectively?29c45-1a2bcarmen