My Minimalism


I often read or hear people asking quantitative questions with regard to minimalism.  These generally revolve around how many of something you need.  Examples include, “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” or “How many sets of clothes do I need for a 2 year old?”

Additionally, there are numerous blogs and articles out there which exhort you to get rid of appliances or say that one set of crockery per person is all you need.

Conversely, I maintain that minimalism should not be prescriptive and that each person has different circumstances and will make their own choices.

The thing that defines minimalism to me is that whatever you own is mindfully curated and limits are set.

In particular, I have been reminded recently of variations in kitchen requirements.  We grow some of our own food and naturally we end up with a glut of certain produce from time to time.  I do my best not to waste it.  Processing a large quantity of produce is generally when appliances come into their own.

I can happily squeeze 2 or 3 oranges using this vintage glass juicer.

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But when it comes to juicing the 160 grapefruit that we have picked in the last 2 weeks I have neither the time or energy to do them by hand.  My trusty food processor with the citrus juicer attachment comes into its own.

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This was one batch of about 60 grapefruit that I juiced last weekend.  In the space of 30 minutes I had several bottles of juice for GMan plus containers of juice to freeze for future use.

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Citrus are not the only produce that I deal with in bulk amounts.

Some time ago I bought a 20kg bag of onions.  Once again, I routinely dice one or two onions using a sharp knife but the food processor with the cutting blade is invaluable for processing larger quantities of onions.

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I chopped 3kg of onions and then used another appliance – my dehydrator – to dry them.

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24 hours later  – back to the food processor, but this time with the spice grinder attachment.

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The end result was dried onion flakes and onion powder which cost me $3 and a little time as compared to nearly $13 to buy the same quantity from the supermarket.  As an added bonus there is no packaging either.

I have used the deydrator to make garlic powder, tomato powder and vegetable stock powder using the same general method.

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Then there is the Kitchen Aid mixer which I regularly use to make spreadable butter, pizza bases, combine various flours for my gluten-free flour mix, the occasional cake and GMan uses it when making sourdough bread.  It also has a pasta attachment which I use occasionally.

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The high-speed blender is also used regularly to make smoothies, mango sorbet and peanut paste to name but a few.

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So, my minimalist kitchen is probably a joke in some people’s eyes but it works for me.

However, I do not have single-purpose appliances such as a waffle maker, ice-cream maker, hot dog maker and so on.

You see, minimalism really is what is right for the individual and their circumstances.






And the Cleaning

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When I cook I invariably make a mess.  In fact, we have a standing joke that I cook and GMan cleans up.  I must admit he is very good at doing the dishes and I think he spent the majority this weekend washing dishes.

I finished off yesterday’s efforts this morning by portioning up the refried beans for the freezer as well as cutting and pureeing lots of mangoes to go in the freezer.  Mango preparation is a messy, sticky business.

In between all of this GMan is experimenting with making sourdough bread and he cooked the first two loaves this evening.  I think that is a work in progress which will not be discussed any further until we have some more successful attempts.

After we had dinner it was time to tackle the last of the dishes and eliminate any mango residue from the benches and splashbacks.

The kitchen is now sparkling and my final step was to mop the floor.  Everything is ready to go for a new week.


Lots of clean and clear surfaces.


I remember reading about minimalism that clear surfaces simply afford possibilities.  I love the truth of this statement.  From an uncluttered sofa which invites you to sit and relax to a clear kitchen which is just brimming with the opportunity to prepare meals this logic can be applied to virtually every surface in your home.  It can be a powerful tool in creating a mindset that embraces a simple, uncluttered home and life.


Use and Enjoy


Even though I have decluttered quite a bit of stuff, I still have a lot of glassware and crockery in the sideboard that do not get used every day.

I recently cleaned out the drawer in the kitchen which hold the mugs and glasses.  I off-loaded some of the odd glasses from the back of the drawer which were never used as well as some plastic tumblers which were all crazed and for which we no longer have the matching jug.

I could have left the excess space but instead, I decided to add 5 coloured glasses which have been in the sideboard.

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There were once 6 of these glasses which came from my parents’ place.  I always loved them and they were for special occasions.  It would be easy to fall into that trap but I decided that since I really like them I will use them every day.  If they get broken I will not mourn, instead, I will be glad that had the opportunity to use and enjoy them.

I have not taken the time to respond to your comments on my previous post but I will do so, hopefully tomorrow.

Two Minutes to Tidy


It is great to feel that the decluttering efforts are really making a difference.  This morning I noticed that the shelf where my recipe books are stored was very grubby and needed cleaning.  It was a simple matter of grabbing an armful of books and placing them on the bench while I wiped down the shelf and then replaced the books.  This took me less than 2 minutes.

2015-02-07 01I have never had hundreds of cookbooks but nevertheless it has taken about 3 rounds of culling to get it to this.  You can read about a previous effort here.

Cookbook shelf

That was about 14 months ago but a few more have moved on since then, too.  I do not miss any of them and have not have occasion to regret my decision to move them along.  Recipes are something that has really been revolutionised by the advent of the internet.  There is nothing you cannot find.  Also, recipes are like clothes – there are definitely trends and fashions.

Do you have recipe books?  Have you reduced your collection?

More To Go


A couple of days ago I read a comment online by someone unknown to me that they had decluttered so much that they had nothing left to declutter.  I have no idea what their circumstances are or what they consider essential but I know that I have not reached that point.  In fact, I am not sure that I ever will or even want to.  We do not have a huge amount of stuff but for me it is more about carefully streamlining what we own to a selection of good-quality items that match our lifestyle.  Our needs change and therefore, our possessions will change accordingly.

On the weekend I was cleaning in the kitchen and one thing led to another and I ended up re-looking at the cooking utensils that I use.  I have supposedly decluttered these on at least 2 previous occasions but it never hurts to look at them with fresh eyes and a more detached point of view.

This is what I am taking to the op shop today.

2015-02-04 01There are a couple of sharp knives that have seen better days and I simply do not use them.  A scraper for cleaning a George Foreman grill which we no longer own.  A cleaning brush for something – I don’t know what and as far as I can see it has never been used.  Spoon and spaghetti strainer which are not used.  Meat mallet – I haven’t beaten meat for over 20 years – our diet does not include recipes that require it.  Spaghetti measure – was part of a corporate Christmas hamper a few years ago and has never been used.  Small aluminium skewer – I have a set of stainless steel skewers and this is no longer required.  Chip cutter – this came from my mother’s place when she was decluttering some years ago and I have never used it.  A good idea but I cannot remember the last time I made chips at home and I am quite capable of cutting potatoes into chips if the fancy happens to take me.  Anyway, aren’t “hand-cut chips” the latest craze on menus??

So what stays?

2015-02-04 02Electric knife
Carving fork
Scone cutter
Rolling pin
Fine grater
Metal tongs
BBQ tool
Pineapple peeler/corer
Apple corer
Cheese slicer
Cherry/oliver pit remover
Garlic press
Ice-cream scoop
Citrus zester
Grapefruit knife
Vegetable peeler (not shown)
Jar opener
Tea strainer
Tea infuser
Wine vacuum sealer
Cork remover
Bottle/can opener
Measuring spoons
Corn cob holders
Egg rings
Knife sharpener

The electric knife/carving fork and cherry pit remover are the only items that would be rarely used.  Everything else is used regularly, mostly on a weekly basis.  Some, like the grapefruit knife and corn cob holders are seasonal but still essential.

2015-02-04 03I also have 2 jars of cooking utensils that I use almost daily.  There location on the bench means that they are easy to grab as I am cooking and preparing food.

Wooden spoons x 4
Metal whisk
Potato masher
Metal spatula
Non-stick spatula
Non-stick spoon
Slotted spoon
Small sieve
Can opener
Pizza cutter
Rubber scrapers x 3
Citrus juicer
Pie slice

I also have a knife block with 6 assorted sharp knives.

To a hard-core minimalist this probably looks like a huge number of utensils, however, I prepare and cook most of our meals and use these items very frequently.  It is important to keep and use what works for you.

There are lots of areas of my life where I could reduce my possessions but I think I have completely decluttered the kitchen utensils to my satisfaction.

What utensils do you use every day?  Are they much different to what I have shown here?

Pantry Overhaul


Even though my pantry was reasonably organised, I decided to give it an overhaul today.  I had noticed that there were a few things stashed in containers at the front of the shelf that needed to be used or relocated.

This is what it looked like before I started.

2012-02-12 01The photo does not show the top shelf which has 2 tubs of glass jars – ones with pop-top lids in one tub and those without in the other.  I sorted all of the jars, made sure they all had lids, labels had been removed and were ready to be used when I need them.

I took a lot of the stuff out and re-arranged the jar storage system so inevitably things looked a lot worse before they got better.  Here is a view of the kitchen earlier this afternoon.

2012-02-12 02And more….

2012-02-12 03To add some interest to my day, The Duke announced at lunchtime that there were 3 branches that needed trimming of the lime tree but they were laden with fruit.  He was prepared to leave them for the time being but since the tree is never completely dormant I decided now was as good a time as any.  I picked a 10 litre bucket full of limes and cut the offending branches off.  So, in the midst of the pantry project I juiced the limes and have frozen them – some in ice-cube trays and some in 400ml blocks.

I moved a couple of things from the pantry to the sideboard so we cast a critical eye over the contents of the sideboard.  The Duke and I agreed that a few things could go.  A true minimalist would probably get rid of almost the entire contents but that is not my style.  However, it is good to refresh your memory of what is actually stored and I have resolved to use some of my ‘good’ things more regularly.

My op shop bag is now full and ready to go when I am next going to town.  I also have a bag of a few items for Belle.  I always offer anything which I think may be useful to my daughters before I consider sending it to the op shop or Freecycle.  However, they understand that there is no compulsion for them to accept it and I will not be mortally wounded if they say no.

I have finally finished revamping the pantry and this is the result.

2012-02-12 04Bottom shelves

2012-02-12 05I threw out a couple of bits of foodstuff – a few crumbs of powdered mustard in a tin that must be at least 10 years old, some jam that had gone mouldy and a handful of glace cherries that  were over 12 months old and were all dried and shrivelled.  I had about 3 bottles with a tiny bit of oil in each so that was all decanted into the current bottle.

I now know that everything in the pantry is useful, in working order  or fit to be eaten.  I also know exactly what is there and can work on using up some of the odd items which are not part of my regular basic stores.