This is the second in our “How to…” Series on how to consistently feed a family of ten and the associated guests… Our first post was on the food rules that keep our meals flowing from day to day. And this post is the post about the tools and the gadgets we use in our kitchen. One of our most asked questions: “Where do you find pots big enough to cook for you all?” And the other assumption is that since we are a blogging family that our entire kitchen is a “virtually sponsored dream”… Well let’s begin with blasting those two realities out of the water: Our kitchen is a dream, it has everything we need in it and a whole lot more, but it is not virtually sponsored in any way!!! And secondly, if you wind your way through this post you may be a little surprised at the pot situation in our home!!!!
Now there are two folk running our kitchen… me the minimalist, who would rather own nothing and not have to go shopping, not to mention I love doing a task from scratch, and then there is the father person, who can’t help himself – he loves gadgets and especially kitchen gadgets… And then we have eight young team players, our kids, at work in the kitchen too – so whatever tools we have, have to be robust and useful. And as I show you the tools we use you will see all the players come into play!!!
I am a firm believer that if a tool is packed away it will never ever be used… except for the waffle iron, and the pasta machine, I have found this to be totally true. So if there is no room on the counter then we need to re-arrange or remove something that isn’t getting used enough.
Se7en + 1 Tools We Use in the Kitchen Every Day:
- The Oven: This remarkable beast I bought for about $15. about fifteen years ago. I have never looked back… it has a vast inner cavern where I can literally fit in roast dinner, potatoes, a loaf of bread and a baked dessert all at the same time… or I can bake six trays of cookies at once, which is brilliant if you ever need to bake 100 dresses. There is one galactic disadvantage… only one hot plate works and I’m no electrician. Most of our meals are cooked on the stove top, cooking in the oven is a fairly pricy event as the price of electricity escalates. So believe it or not… Almost all our meals are cooked on one hot plate. I know you are not going to believe this – but it works for us… I think I would lose my mind if I had to worry about multiple pots all at once.
- The Kitchen Aid Mixer: I got it from a best friend years ago… she had used it in Tanzania for years and then in South Africa for about ten more years and then she handed it on to to me… This mixer is more than a mixer… it signifies a whole friendship!!! I wouldn’t part with it for the world and it does a mighty share of work in our kitchen: cookies, cakes, meringues, play-do… This machine really works for its share of counter space…
- The Magi-Mix Blender Chopper: I love cute little appliances but the father person is always getting huge machines – I can not fathom it, where is the cuteness!!! Well just lately when we have had to invest in a couple of things, the father person has to remind me that we actually have a larger than the average 2.5 kid family… so when it came to the mixer he didn’t ask, he just got me the biggest… love it!!! We actually can do stuff in it that fits the family… And after weeks of looking as it on the counter… we began by slicing onions and slowly it is becoming the: slicing, grinding, mincing… and don’t forget the instant pastry machine… This machine is definitely going to be doing a lot of work for us!!!
- Good Knives and Chopping Boards: There is nothing worse than wimpy knives that don’t cut… our favourite knife is our Wusthof Classic Mini-Super Slicer , love to death, use for everything knife. Otherwise I have a small collection of sharp knives… if it isn’t sharp enough for the job then out it goes. There will never be enough lovely chunky wooden chopping boards in the world… I love them and use them for heaps of tasks… Not just chopping, but serving dishes and carrying picnics in and out doors… Just love chopping boards and it is my standard wedding gift. A fine chopping board will be used by the recipients every single day – a fondue set, not so much!!!
- The Bread Machine: We use our bread machine every single day… I would never have bought one, but the father person insisted… it has saved years of my life, what can I say the man is nearly always right!!! Can you imagine walking to the store with eight kids… just for a loaf of bread, or even worse getting eight kids into the car to go to the store for a loaf of bread. We use ours for bread, for pizza, for flat breads, for buns, for rolls… heaps of things… and at least once a day every day and sometimes twice a day.
- Wooden Spoons I use wooden spoons for everything, I once visited a friend who didn’t have wooden spoons – I was totally stranded… couldn’t cook a thing!!! Also, how else would you make an instant puppet or a mini-hobby horse in the middle of preparing dinner!!!
- Pots and Pans: Pots… turns out I could write a lot about pots… that being said, we don’t have whole lot of them… I bought my first pot for myself when I turned twenty-one, it is still my favourite cook anything pot, I love it, use it every single day and really need no other. But we also have a pasta pot, which I use once or twice a week for pasta and I use it to make soup as well. Soup is just meant to be made in a big pot, but it doesn’t matter what size pot I cook it in, it always gets completely eaten up!!! And finally I always wanted a little pot for cooking a quick sauce or melting chocolate or whatever, so it took us nineteen years but we finally have: my original pot, the pasta pot and the little pot that came as a set of three – totally too many pots for one hot plate!!! And then pans… a deep pan for cooking spaghetti sauce and such-like and a flat pan for pancakes and omelettes… and of course a wok because stir-fry is the quickest, cheapest meal to feed a horde of folk!!!
- The Coffee Machine: For some this might be a luxury… for us not so much!!! The father person in our house loves visitors and we have a pretty much open home policy… so we have an endless stream of visitors: Students, moms, bible study, whatever and our machine literally serves thousands of cups of fine coffee!!!
And the se7en + 1th:
Se7en + 1 Tools We Could Really Do WithOut:
- Microwave: I grew up without one, I grew up without a tv too, and honestly I never ever think to use either of them. It would never occur to me to cook in the microwave and we actually use ours to store bread – it is an electronic bread bin – how green is that – not!!!
- Toaster: A toaster is really my version of the kitchen nightmare… it is a mass crumb producer for very little return. Even a four piece toaster doesn’t help – if we need toast we need ten pieces now… and ten more pieces a minute later… so I do all our toasting on a baking tray in the oven. However, the father person loves a slice of toast or two before bed and he wants it from a toaster… so my dream toaster invention would be something that contains the jolly crumbs. And don’t tell me that toasters have a crumb trap – I know they do… but someone has to clean that out… and crumbs are crumbs… bleh.
- Kettle: We just don’t ever user it… well once a week when the grannies pop over for a cup of tea – but really it isn’t worth the “prime-real-estate-space” on the kitchen counter… we never ever use it. However, if I ever find a teapot big enough to make tea for all of us at once… then I would want to hang on to the kettle!!!
- Fridge: We have this huge fridge – I have no need for it. In the olden days when we had one child… I used to cook meals and freeze ahead. And was convinced that a giant chest freezer was the solution to my kitchen prowess. Ahhh the mistakes of my youth!!! As our family grew so did cooking ahead… not so much!!! And our freezer stood empty for ages and we eventually sold it. The bottom half of our fridge now is a freezer and most of the time it contains a tray of ice-blocks that are used for science experiments. Why don’t I cook ahead? Well imagine if you were cooking a meal for ten to fifteen folk… and you were using all your available pots and pans on your one hot plate… then imagine what it would be like to cook for twenty to thirty people and freeze half of it. Just no, the task becomes too big and no fun for anyone. It is one thing to ask a child to help you chop a couple of onions and quite another to ask them to chop a sack of onions. I am all about keeping the tasks fun and working together… so we cook everyday… a quick meal is never further then fifteen or twenty minutes away… so really not worth cooking a months worth of meals for us.
- Plastic Containers: I absolutely hate plastic containers and canisters that come with a life-time guarantee… what on earth would I want to use the same plastic container for forty five years for… no I can’t think I do… the lids and boxes are never ever in the same place… EVER. I did have a plastic cupboard for a couple of years but my kids have totally outgrown plastic, in fact my last two never actually saw it… and it is gone. The father person needs containers for his lunch and right now we use glass jars. I am also storing our jars because we have big plans to use jars for our gifting towards the end of the year…
- Paper: Our kitchen is paper free – I had no idea that it was something folk aspired too!!! We actually don’t use paper in our kitchen for spills, and wipes… I always thought that I would have “arrived” in the world of mothering when I had a roll of paper wipes on our kitchen counter. Yet another preconception of mine that I could have skipped, because I am still waiting to need them before I buy them… We use damp cloths to wipe spills and surfaces. We use paper plates for crafts!!! I friend once gave us a stack of paper plates as a gift when we had a newborn… the perfect gift, but not as she intended… my kids were busy constructing and building and playing for hours… but we didn’t actually eat off them!!!
- The Dishwasher: One of the things that perfect strangers often say to us is that our dishwasher must work extra hard… and it does the job, but to be honest I like washing dishes with my kids… it is usually a one on one opportunity and there is nothing like working alongside somebody to find out where they are at and what is on their heart. Somehow working together opens up opportunities to chat and I for one am always looking for ways to peep into the lives of my kids.
- I Just Couldn’t Think : So I asked the father person, and he said: An electric carving knife – I didn’t even know we owned one!!! Because if I don’t use something I give it away… I know some folk say if you haven’t used something in a year or six months, then move it along… My personal timeline is much shorter than that!!! I really think that if I am not using something then other folk can be using then I pass it on. Yes we have made mistakes and bought things we don’t need in the past, but honestly I am quite happy with what we have going in our kitchen right now… so no need to shop…
And the Se7en + 1th:
And The One Dream Item…
Because every kitchen needs a dream item, and I have never actually seen one here, but it looks like a kitchen “must have” to me!!!