I live in a house that is approximately 120 sq ft. When people see my tiny house they assume that I don’t cook or bake much since I must have a tiny kitchen. Although my kitchen is smaller than most, I haven’t changed my appetite for preparing food at home. To demonstrate how I adapted to my small kitchen space I wanted to share a brief list that I use when choosing tools for my kitchen. Rather than give an exhaustive list of all of my kitchen gadgets here I think its more useful to provide just a few examples that show how my tiny kitchen philosophy can be summarized into five criteria: Utility, Storability, Number, Durability, and Multipurpose.
Utility: The theory behind many kitchen gadgets is wonderful, however, if an object is difficult to operate, awkward to store, or just plain ugly, it simply will not be used. Although I have many criteria on this list, I value utility above all else because, if an item is not used, the rest is meaningless. Easy to use kitchen tools that perform well, are comfortable to hold, and beautiful to look at are ensured a space in my home. Since I only have a few kitchen tools I feel it is very important that I enjoy using them.
Storability: With a kitchen counter area of just 14 sq ft (including the cooking-range), storage space is limited. It is crucial that the tools I use be small and stack well. Because of this need, I typically use items designed for camping and backpacking to take up less volume of space. My plates and bowls, made by cascade designs, offer a similar effective size as traditional place settings but do not have the decorative “skirting” around the eating surface and stack with minimal wasted space between them.
Number: Along with storability I find it is also ideal to reduce the number of kitchen items I own. Even if something is amazingly compact and stackable it seems silly to own a dozen place settings when I can only seat a maximum of six people indoors. I also find that having fewer items helps simplify my surroundings and allows me to spend more money on one durable, quality item than for several cheap items.
Durability: Since I’ve reduced the numbers of items I own, I tend to use the tools I do have more frequently and rely on them more. Because of this, I need greater durability from my tools. In addition, I believe that complexity will nearly always reduce durability since there are more parts that can potentially break. For this reason, I do not own any electrical kitchen appliances. For example, my cooking range uses denatured alcohol and all of my other gadgets are manually powered. I recently acquired a manual coffee grinder from a nearly 150 year-old german company, Zassenhaus, with a 25 year guarantee. In an age of “planned obsolescence” it is wonderful to own a gadget that is designed to be useful, beautiful, and durable.
Multipurpose: My kitchen tools ideally have more than one application. For example, since most of my kitchenware is designed for camping I can take it with me on weekend trips and I don’t need to store a special set of “camp kitchen” tools. Further, much of my camping kitchen gear is designed to work together so my plates also double as pot lids.
Although ideal, multipurpose usefulness does have limitations. For example, once I used my cascade-designs kettle as a stew pot during a camping trip, however, the next morning when I boiled water for coffee and tea I experienced a mingling of flavors that wasn’t pleasant. This flavor mingling persisted even after washing the kettle thoroughly at home. Because of this limitation I admit that I have more single task tools than I would like to have for comfort reasons. On the bright side, my home is larger than a backpack, so I can afford the space and freedom to place a greater emphasis on the other criteria above.
Although my meals don’t require a food processor or a four burner stove, I still eat very well and don’t feel limited by my small dwelling. I can bake, fry, grill and steam nearly anything in my little kitchen. Doing more with less is empowering and I find that I quite enjoy tickling the pallet of my guests and leaving them wondering how I made such a wonderful meal in such a small and simple kitchen.