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.

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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

 

Mixing and Whipping – Day 20

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Kitchen Aid Still Life

Today we tackle the tools that mix and blend including the stand mixer, the hand held mixer, and various hand tools.  Pull out all your tools that serve these functions and consider the redundancy in your collection.  Choose your favorites and make changes as needed.  Then move the rest to the donation box and clean out your kitchen cabinet and return the remaining items neatly.

Xaver and I have just purchased a short bus and we’ll be building out the interior for our third tiny home so I’m considering the usefulness of each item right along with you.  Since we’ll be going from 125 square feet, down to 110 square feet – and it will be configured very differently – it’s not going to be a huge adjustment and we are very excited about the places we’ll visit and the people we will meet along the way.  This also serves as a reminder of why we continue to work at downsizing and it helps us to reinvigorate our efforts.  Perhaps you would appreciate a reminder of why you’re going to all the trouble to downsize or right-size your kitchen.  Today take a moment to remember the goals you had when you began this process and remember what you stand to gain.  The more we focus on the simplicity and order we gain from this process, as opposed to the losses of downsizing, the more we’ll be able to enjoy the transition.

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VINNIE 3 – our new short bus

Recently I scrolled through social media looking at photos taken by folks who have only recently gone tiny and over and over again I’m reading the joy they have in this journey.  I saw again the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment these folks have their small cozy spaces.  I have been at this for a number of years so it’s easy to forget how exciting and joyful it was at the beginning.  The feeling hasn’t changed, just the sense of newness has left me.  This new Skoolie project will bring back the sense of newness without giving up the perks of living tiny, in fact, this bus is more road worthy than any of our other homes (lol!) and I look forward to traveling the country in it.

Keep on working toward your goal.  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

Blender & Juicer – Day 19

14 RicerToday we are talking about kitchen tools that blend, puree, and juice – which covers a variety of tools.  Pull all of these items out of your kitchen cabinets and take a look over them.  Remove redundant gear and consider what’s best for you in your tiny house.  I chose to keep a small blender – the one and only appliance that made it into my tiny house.  Consider what you’ll actually use on a weekly basis, and what alternatives there are in your community.

Alternatives to keeping the gear:

In some cases, visiting a great local shop that offers fresh juices may be more of a treat than keeping an expensive juicer that is a space and energy hog.  In my case, instead of juicing each morning, I enjoy a 2 ounce glass of NingXia Red, a superfruit smoothie product that has more great high-nutrient foods in it than I have time to eat in a day – or even a few days – and certainly more than I’m willing to buy at the market and haul home and feed to the machine.  Juicing gets expensive in a hurry!  Shaving products and Christmas gift setNot to mention the clean up because the juicing process is messy.  All of that was just too much to bring into a tiny house, so instead of focusing on what I was losing by living tiny, I find an alternative that works great for me.  These days I have simplified my life by buying NingXia Red on the Young Living auto-ship program which makes it crazy-easy.  Therefore I no longer need a juicer.  The benefits I have experienced include better focus, more stamina, and less cravings for salt and sugar which accidentally led to weight loss (score!!).  NingXia Red has made such a difference for me that Xaver and I literally tell perfect strangers about it!  lol!  Lots of information (including purchase info) is available at this link.

All that to say that you may find creative alternatives to keeping big expensive gear in your kitchen that make it more palatable to part with big energy and space hog appliances.  In this manner we remove the sacrificial quality of downsizing, keep our favorite items, and retain only the gear that serves our purpose in this season of our lives.

Are you enjoying the process of transforming your kitchen into a place of order and simplicity?  I hope so.  This is day 19 out of 22 so you are on the home stretch!  Pat yourself on the back – you deserve it!

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

 

Food Processor – Day 18

14 graterToday we get out all the tools that grate and slice.  Clean out the storage space and consider which items to return to the cabinet.  Think especially in terms of removing redundant tools and keeping in mind the weight, space, and power restrictions of living tiny.  If you are moving into a micro unit, you may only want to keep the knife and cutting board.  If you’re headed for a small space you may appreciate having a grater/slicer with a lid.  If you have a larger kitchen with no power restrictions then you may enjoy having a small food processor.  The “right answer” for you depends on the purpose you have in this season of your life.

Tiny House communities are really great places to have a lending library of tools that most members won’t need often, but might like to have access to now and then.  This is an excellent opportunity to create such a library or donate tools for use in such a library.  Consider your favorite charities that create food for the homeless, or maybe talk to someone at the local daycare to see if they need equipment you no longer need.  Continue to think of creative places to donate these larger kitchen appliances where they serve the needs of the community.  And donating an appliance that is in good condition to the charity of your choice is a great way to support a cause that matters to you.

How does your donate pile look by now?  Have you been removing items from your kitchen that you no longer need or wish to store or care for?  Congratulations!  Share a photograph with me using the hashtag #KitchenSimplicity or tweet to @TinyHouseFoodie on Twitter or Instagram, and follow me on Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Leaving a comment is always welcome.

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

Herbs, Spices, and Essential Oils – Day 16

Today we tackle the spice cabinet.  Take everything out, clean the cabinet or spice rack thoroughly.  Then go through the herbs and spices and remove old products that you don’t use.  Compost the product and recycle the container for items you no longer need.  Anything that has MSG in it is an automatic toss – inspect the salt & spice blends and flavor packets especially.  A good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything you have not used in the past year.

Shrimp Rohini

Shrimp Rohini by Chef Carmen

This is an excellent time to transfer all the bottles over to uniform glass or take advantage of a new space saving spice storage system.  Store spices away from heat and sunlight which will damage the quality of the product.  Then put everything back as you like it and step back to admire the transformation.  Well done!

If you are intrigued by the idea of using essential oils for their remarkable fresh flavors, and aren’t sure where to begin – allow me to suggest Young Living as my brand of choice.  They are the best in the business and I have enjoyed using essential oils in my food very much.  See how I made layered mints here, and if you’d like to learn more about essential oils in general – I have a wealth of information over here and when you begin a wholesale membership and become a member of my “oily” family, you’ll quickly see why everyone is talking about essential oils these days.  Essential oils are one of the secrets to tiny house living to me, these little space saving potions are useful in so many ways.

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Shrimp Rohini

No matter what your favorite flavors, today is your day to get them out, clean them up, and put them in order.  This is another rewarding task and bravo to each of you who have continued through this process to simplify your kitchen and prepare for living tiny.

BTW, here is a recipe I created that features some of my favorite spices: Shrimp Rohini.  I recently heard from a reader who switched out the shrimp for chicken and she loved it – so there’s a variation you might also enjoy.

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

Food Storage Containers – Day 14

13 mixing bowls lidsToday is the day we tackle food storage options!  Go ahead and pull out all your food storage containers and clean out the cabinet where they were stored.  Then let’s talk about these containers.  The best and safest way to store food is in glass.  There are also excellent stainless steel options.  The worst food storage is plastic which has some serious health risks, and causes a lot of environmental damage.  Plastic food storage items may go directly to recycling.

It’s taken me some time to make this transition in my own home and I would encourage you to keep in mind that all of this is a process and wherever you are in the process is fine.  None of these changes need to happen overnight.  Do what is right for you and your family and often that means making small steps over the course of time to your goal – rather than incurring the expense of making a big change all at one time.  Embrace your creativity and your adaptability to store leftovers, and work to keep those foods for a very short time so that you are consistently eating fresh food.

Have you been following along with this series?  If so – Well Done!  You’ve passed the half-way mark and are well into the home stretch.  How are you doing?  Is this a good time to revisit your “Why?” to remind yourself why you are doing this?  Perspective is a valuable thing.  If and when you start to feel overwhelmed – take a break and revisit your “Why” and look again at your favorite things.  Remember that it is not a sacrifice to have all your favorite things around you.  You gain so much by going through this process.  You can do it, I know you can!

I love the transformation of cleaning out the old things and making way for new memories and adventures.  I find it exciting and invigorating.  Small kitchens are efficient because everything is right there at hand and that’s part of the fun of this process.

Does your kitchen look different than it did?  Share a photograph with me by using the #KitchenSimplicity hashtag, I can’t wait to see your photos.  Thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Baking Gear – Day 13

Today we tackle bakeware, and if you bake a lot of cake and bread, then you may have more items to downsize.  I keep one baking dish, a set of four cookie sheets that all fit in the oven at the same time, and some cake and cupcake pans.

11 bakewareSince I used to bake professionally, I had a lot of gear to get rid of, and even downsized my wedding cake pans – a collection of round cake pans in various sizes.  Recently when making a wedding cake, I needed to get pretty creative since I no longer had those pans.  There is a video on that project that you may also find interesting.  Even when we downsize something we may wish to have later on, there are sometimes creative ways to work around that and find solutions that still work just as well or maybe even better.  In this case, the wedding cake tier that I created from layers baked out flat on parchment worked just as well (maybe better) than baking those layers in cake pans would have worked.  No worries.  In tiny house life, creativity and adaptability are your best friends!  We don’t have to keep all the gear for every possible contingency.  When we trust that we will have what we need, when we need it, then it is easier to release things to the next person they are meant for. 

In the video I mention a recipe for No-Knead Bread recipe baked in a Dutch Oven – be sure to get the metal replacement knob for the top as the plastic knob that comes with it shouldn’t go in the oven.  This delicious bread recipe is available in this New York Times post.

Pull all of your baking things out and look them over.  Choose your favorites and move the rest to the donate boxes you set up earlier.  Items you have not used in the last year are most likely items that can go straight to the donation box.  Then clean out the cabinet and put the remaining items away.  Isn’t that better?  I think so to.

Thanks so much for watching and following along, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Right-Sizing Mixing Bowls – Day 12

4 PurposeWelcome back to day #12, it’s time to tackle the mixing bowls and lids in your collection and downsize to your favorites that fit your purpose in this season of your life.  I show you my favorites plus my favorite way to roast potatoes.

BTW, I recently read that people who keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables on the kitchen counter eat more fruit and vegetables, and less processed food.  I’m good with that.  And they are beautiful – that’s a bonus!

Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Paprika

Potatoes cut into even cubes (I love using various potatoes including sweet potatoes)

3 tablespoons good quality EVOO

2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Toss to coat and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve hot.

Tackle those mixing bowls and lids today and use #KitchenSimplicity to show me your before and after photographs.  I can’t wait to see your progress!  And thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Is the Food Processor really a Time Saving Device?

Good morning Tiny House people, thanks for joining me today.  I want to share with you my epic battle with the Food Processor.  I was curious – is a Food Processor really a time saving device?  The process of finding that answer was pretty interesting, and I drew some conclusions from the experience (that are at the end of this video).  Let me know what you think.  I was surprised to find that many of my friends were already on team #knifeandcuttingboard.  Maybe fewer folks use these space-hogging machines than I realized.  Are you going tiny?  Will you take your food processor with you to your tiny home?  Why or why not?  Let me know in the comments.

IMG_2487What did I do with all those chopped carrots, celery, and onion?  I bought a great big organic chicken and made chicken soup with all of it.  Yum!