24 Steps to a Kitchen that is Exactly Right for You!

Is the chaos in your kitchen on your last nerve?  Don’t even know what all you have in there anymore?  Have you been thinking about simplifying your life?  Isn’t it high time? Since my new book, Kitchen Simplicity (Tiny House Foodie) came out, I have continued to work to expand the resources I have to offer folks who are seeking to downsize or right-size their homes – especially the most challenging room: the kitchen!

Take it from me, a retired chef and restaurant owner who has lived in 125 sq ft for quite a few years now – it’s entirely possible to live tiny very comfortably – without sacrificing flavor or contentment.

A tiny kitchen still cooks – IF you right-size your collection of kitchen gear the right way.  I can help you through this process with a focused strategic process that you can take at your own pace.  It’s important not to waste your resources or get rid of something you’ll just have to replace later.  With that in mind, I’m so happy to announce my brand new 24 session Right-Size Your Kitchen Video Series: putting the Mmm back in Minimalism! Learn more >

Video Series

In 24 detailed sessions I’ll show you the practical steps to right-size every part of your kitchen collection.  You’ll soon be feeling the liberation of living tiny!  Learn more…

Horse Chow

Part of our “going tiny” journey included reading “The Good Life” by Helen (1904-1995) and Scott Nearing (1883-1983) who were the great-grandparents of the simple living movement. They wrote extensively on debt free living and self-reliance. In those days they were considered radicals, and I suppose by modern, consumerist standards – that’s still a fitting word to describe them.

Helen Nearing wrote “Simple Food For the Good Life” in 1980 and it’s a very unusual cookbook. The recipes are in narrative form. For example: “We buy a 50-pound bag of popcorn kernels wholesale, and can use up to two bags a year, as we serve popcorn on any occasion from breakfast to lunch to evening gatherings.” She mentions that she prefers it to cornflakes. Interesting. We also eat a lot of popcorn, but I’ve never popped corn for breakfast, I might have to try that.

I made hot oatmeal for breakfast a few times last winter, on mornings when it was crazy cold. You’ve never seen a grown man get more dramatic than when a steaming bowl of hot “porridge” appeared before my husband for breakfast. Apparently, this is the horror inflicted on the youth of Britain that makes them dream of expanding the Commonwealth – presumably to get better food. Or so I’m told. And by the way, if eating wallpaper paste is frowned upon – why does cooked oatmeal even exist?!

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Tiny House Food Storage

In an effort to stem the flow of gelatinous oats, my Austrian husband began extolling the virtues of Muesli. Nevermind. Another cold snap hit and I cooked up another satisfying hot oatmeal breakfast with plenty of butter and raisins. Yum! He’s not one to disappoint, so he told the stories of his youth in the Tyrolian Alps of Austria… where he was subjected to wearing itchy, hand-knit woolen garments… but he was never tortured like this… and here’s where he held up a spoon of cool oatmeal and allowed it to fall back to the bowl with a rather satisfying “splat!”. He offered a clump of it to the dog, and she sniffed at it… but turned away. Et tu, Bitch?

IMG_8560Imagine my surprise when the next time we visited our favorite bulk food store, he stocked up on rolled oatmeal, raisins, and walnuts. Oh boy, what is he up to?! No worries, I was busy picking out avocados and almonds for breakfast. Yum. I also made sure we had enough oil, butter, and honey and wondered how long it had been since I’d made granola. Do I still have the recipe? Have I downsized all the cookie sheets? “What’s Granola?” he asked. How do you explain Granola?

IMG_8565While Xaver and I were in our oatmeal negotiations… I came across Helen Nearing’s recipe for “Horse Chow”. I read aloud to him from her book: “In the early 1930’s, before health foods and granola became household words, I made up a dish we called ‘Horse Chow’. At that time raw oats were not being eaten by humans.” This is where a rather amusing noise emanated from my Austrian. I looked at him. “What?!” he blurted, trying to look innocent.

Shall I continue?” I asked.

This is the simplest granola of all and perhaps one of the earliest. It was dreamed up in the Austrian Tyrol, where we holed up one winter in a village far from supplies with a very slim larder of hit-or-miss articles, but with great appetites.” “Ha!” he said – in triumph! The debate over oatmeal ended there while we giggled about being holed up for an Austrian winter and somehow “arousing” great appetites. LOL!

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Helen Nearing’s recipe for Horse Chow:

4 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned, not the quick cook kind)

½ cup raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Dash of sea salt

Olive oil or vegetable oil to moisten

Mix all together. We eat it in wooden bowls with wooden spoons.”

IMG_8568That’s how “Horse Chow” became the breakfast of choice around here. Even on mornings when it’s cold outside!

My Austrian’s version:

2 lbs raw rolled oats

¼ lb walnuts

½ lb raisins

1/3 lb sliced almonds

and toasted coconut

Served with homemade yogurt or milk to moisten.

My version:

Two scoops of his mix

2 T raw pumpkin seeds

2 T raw almonds

1 T ground flax seeds

Served with almond milk to moisten and topped with fresh fruit.

 

Horse Chow, our version

We eat it in china bowls with silver spoons.

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Yum.

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For help going tiny without sacrificing flavor or contentment, get my helpful

Super Simple Kitchen Gear List – it’s free!  Learn more…

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Reminding you that we can go tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well!

How to Dye Fabric to give it a Whole New Life

This weekend I dyed a bunch of cotton shirts and washcloths that were looking kind of grungy and it gave them a whole new look!

My Austrian is a pipe organ builder and therefore he works with wood, stone, metal, and a whole bunch of chemicals, plus he loves to work on his vintage cars.  All of that is hard on t-shirts and these were starting to look pretty stained up.  However, the cloth was still in good shape and so it was time to give them a new look.  Now with the new color the old stains just vanish into the natural texture of the hand dyed cloth.  They’re good to go for another few years now! WIN!  My favorite kind of recycling is to eliminate the need to replace an item by extending it’s life!

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My handsome Austrian in his (old) shirt that has a whole new look.

I love using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, napkins, and paper towels!  It’s a great way to save money and it’s good for the environment!  Zero Waste for the WIN!  I love skipping the paper products in the grocery store!  I don’t need to find space to store any of those bulky things in my tiny house – WIN!  Not a single roll of paper towels at my house – not one!  No tissue boxes either!  I use washcloths for all the usual things, plus… I use them in place of paper towels for the gross tasks and they work beautifully!  I have plenty of them and I use them only once, then hang them to dry.  When they are dry they go in the laundry hamper and they wash up beautifully.  I know it sounds like it would create an extra load of laundry – but it doesn’t.  It’s all part of the routine around here.  I’ve been making my own laundry soap for a few years now also.  I’ve had these handkerchiefs and wash cloths in the works for about eight years now.  I can’t even imagine how much money it has saved us to use them instead of paper products!  Plus… a well worn cotton handkerchief is incredibly soft and lovely.

This is a fast forward introduction to this topic and if there seems to be interest in this, then I’ll make very detailed instructions to walk you through it step by step.  It’s not difficult at all, and I think it’s loads of fun!

TIP: All of these chemicals are considered dangerous so it’s important to wear gloves and handle soda ash and the dyes with great care!  I’ve got a weird skin condition so I pay much more attention to this than I used to.

Let me know what what you think.  Would you try this?

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