There are many reasons why one might have or need to have a minimalist kitchen.
One might be a new bride or a college student away from home for the first time, and need to make do and get by while slowly adding to kitchen supplies as need and finances meet each other.
One might have a small place without much space, and need to minimize the junk that takes up space.
One might be moving and need to reduce the 'stuff' that will be transported.
Understand that I do not really have a minimalist kitchen, although I have gotten by with one before. I had far more than half my kitchen goodies in storage for almost three years, so I know I can do minimalist, but the truth is, I like my kitchen gadgets too much to have left as many of them in storage as I should have.
But if you are just starting out, or you're moving and need the smallest amount of stuff possible, or you are in a tiny kitchen and need to make space, here are some tips that might help spark your own ideas for simplifying your stuff down to a minimalist kitchen:
1. Kitchen towels can double as hotpads. Just fold them up very well, and be careful. Do I like my hotpads? Very much. But I can function without them if I need to.
2. Turn a glass upside down and use it to cut biscuits and round cookies. I don't remember my mother ever using anything else to make biscuits or rolls. Actually, you can just use your hands to make rolls in a quick, assembly line fashion as a baker once taught me. I demonstrate her method here.
3. Nobody needs a cake tester. A fork, toothpick, a straw from an old-fashioned broom, or a bit of raw spaghetti will each work just as well.
4. In a pinch a bottle works as a rolling pin. It needs to be about the shape of an old glass soda bottle, so something like a bottle of ketchup, a bottle of worcestershire sauce or soy sauce will work. If you fill it up with ice water and put the lid on tightly you have a great rolling pin for keeping your pie crust flaky.
5. While I vastly prefer a good pastry Blender for blending fats into flours for biscuits and quick breads, you can cut butter into flour as for biscuits or pie crust by using two knives or a fork. My mother never had one, and she made a lot of biscuits and pies. I never owned a pastry cutter until I was nearly 30, and I made a lot of pies and biscuits in that time-frame. What also works is your clean fingers. Wash your hands well, rinse them with cold water, drop small bits of fat into the flour and pick up a palmful at a time and gently rub your hands together until all the flour and fat are mixed together. Work quickly, and this works pretty well.
6. If you are crushed for space and/or funds, you don't have to have a spray bottle of oil such as PAM. I never use the stuff. You can spread oil on your baking sheets the old fashioned way, with your hands, or the other old fashioned way, with your children's hands. There are spray bottles you can fill yourself, but I found they usually end up getting clogged up and I returned to the use of my hands.
7. A colander is really, really handy, in fact, of all the 'dispensable' things on this list, this is the least dispensable. However, it is a tool I lived without for years. You can get by with a little coordination and a cooking pan with a lid. You just carefully hold the lid cracked a wee bit and tilt your pan to pour the liquid out (using your towel for a hot-pad, of course) while holding the lid and the sides of the pan. It's a good idea to pour the liquid into a bowl in the sink rather than directly into the sink, so that if you drop your pan the pasta won't go in the sink. Pour away from you, not towards you. Ladle out some of the liquid first to make the pot lighter and easier to poor. If you have a steamer basket you can have that double as a colander- put it inside a bowl or pan and ladle the food from pan to steamer basket. Or, ideally, get a colander but make sure it's one that can also double as a steamer.
8. A vegetable peeler can be used in place of a cheese slicer. Some people use a paring knife, but I never mastered the art and skill of paring fruits and vegetables well with a knife.
9. A giant mixing bowl is a very nice thing for a large family to have, but you can also use a large, clean bucket, and even an ice-chest. I have mixed yeast breads in buckets and large pasta salads in ice-chests before.
10. Specialty racks just for cooling your cookies- I've never owned one and neither did my mother. She would tear apart brown paper bags, spread them open on the counter or table, and use a spatula to get the cookies off the pan and onto the paper. Brown paper bags are harder to come by, now, but a clean counter also works well.
11. Citrus Zester- many people never zest citrus and use it in recipes at all. However, I love the sweet burst of flavor that the zest of a citrus peel gives to food, foods like Fennel Salad, wheat-free lemon poppyseed banana bread, lemon love-notes, or my special chocolate orange pound-cake?
I finally found a good citrus zester at a thrift shop, but for years what I did instead was to store all citrus peels in a container in the freezer. When I needed the zest of citrus, I used my vegetable peeler to peel off a bit of orange or lemon peel (the colored bit, not the white) and then I used a pair of child's scissors to snip the rind into my batter.
12. Grain Mill- I love my grain mill. But if you don't have one, there are two ideas I have for making do without. One is to find a friend who has one and grind grains and legumes in hers, keeping the flours in the freezer. The other is to make the blender pancake batter like this one, which grinds the grains in the blender with the liquid ingredients.
Some people consider tongs to be dispensable. I am not one of them. Tongs are good, in lieu of collanders, for scoooping out spaghetti. IN lieu of pot holders they are good for pulling out the oven racks, for serving salads, for serving pasta, lifting jars and tiny dishes out of hot water baths, reaching the jars that are up high inthe cupboard, turning cake pans in the oven (so you don't put your thumb in the top of the cake), serving ice, lifting, turning, stirring, moving, picking up and putting down. We must have our tongs.=)
What are some of your substitutions?