Table for Ten – Part 2: The Hardware… Kitchen Tools We Do and Don’t Use…

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:


  1. 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.
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  3. 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…
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  5. 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!!!
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  7. 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!!!
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  9. 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.


  10. 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!!!
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  12. 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!!!
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    And the se7en + 1th:

  14. 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!!!

Se7en + 1 Tools We Could Really Do WithOut:

  1. 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!!!
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  3. 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.
  4. 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!!!
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  6. 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.
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  8. 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…
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  10. 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!!!
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  12. 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.
  13. And the Se7en + 1th:

  14. 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 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!!!

41 Replies to “Table for Ten – Part 2: The Hardware… Kitchen Tools We Do and Don’t Use…”

  1. Nah, you don’t need that ‘must have’. I used to own one but it is long gone. Just use those sharp knives!

  2. Totally with you on the toaster and microwave. Just don’t win space in my kitchen. I absolutely adore our apple peeler. All new visitors have to try it out and all go away determined to buy one. It is pure genius. Saves time and waste – if you need two more reasons.

  3. I don’t know how large of a kettle would be large enough, but here are a few that might strike your interest:



  4. Lol! We have the exact same fridge as you! Our beast is heading towards being a late teenager. Still works well, despite having some defrosting issues. And I’m with you on the pot thing. I have one semi decent pot and cook mostly off one plate. I like your selection of must haves. My list includes a slow cooker and a pressure cooker. Love those!

  5. Hay Willemijn, you have a good point, but after my daughter peeled about thirty apples the other day for an apple pie… we both decided that a peeler was the next thing on the list… We will have to see!!!

  6. Hay Cheryl, You see that is why it is on our list… actually it just looks like fun!!! It is always apple season over here and with a chef who now produces copious amounts of pastry… apple pies have become the obvious project to follow on with!!! Anyway I have never seen one in Cape Town… but if I ever did it would be hard to walk past!!! Hope you have a fun weekend!!!

  7. Hay Mrs WJAA, I must be honest I have never thought to look on-line!!! Where have I been… the cost of shipping a tea pot from Amazon would rather spoil the fun of it!!! But I am definitely going to look at local online shops… great idea, thank you!!! Hope you have a fun weekend!!!

  8. Hay Taryn, Isn’t that funny… ours also has serious defrosting issues… it was gifted to us by my mom-in-law when she got a new one, she just couldn’t understand how we could live with the small fridge we had!!! It is so enormous that I actually store empty dishes in it. Really I couldn’t think how to fill it with food… we live a block away from a store so if we need anything fresh then I send a young runner – for fresh milk or butter or whatever!!! Anyway eventually our kids will start leaving home and I think I will re-gift it to one of them!!! I must say I have never thought of a slow cooker or a pressure cooker…. there is a whole world of gadgets out there to explore!!! Thanks for stopping by, hope you all have a fun weekend!!!

  9. Ohhh you are such a sweetheart… You love doing dishes with your kids! That is wonderful! I am not very good in the kitchen… 🙂 but I loved your thoughts. I bought my big fancy mixer because of YOU and your wonderful inspiration… I still haven’t figured out to to lift the top up! I can’t find a lever or button?!! And I use my microwave waaaay more than you guys I am sure. I need to come spend a week and be a fly on your kitchen wall!!!!! Hope everyone is healthy and feeling better over there!

  10. I know I shouldn’t but I’m rather drooling over your collection of tins on top of your kitchen cupboards (I have most definitely have a tin weakness).

  11. Hay Katherine Marie… You can not buy a huge fancy mixer because of us and then not use it… No, no, no!!! Make it a project and try just one thing… bake the quickest cake in the world, make a grand mess with your kids. If you can have a cream fight then you sure can bake a cake. Once you have made one thing then make it a couple of times… and then try one more new thing. First thing – How to open the top: Look in hte book, ask a friend, go on the website, contact the company – do something!!! So have a baking weekend!!! Lots of love!!!

  12. Hi Zoe, Honestly, I can’t hep myself with those tins… I have collected them for years and years… every now and then there will be a product promotion with a tin and I grab it!!! Here’s a photo you will like!!! Hope you all have a fun weekend!!!

  13. Loving this series!Please can you tell us what you eat in a typical week – I’d love to see how you feed 10 with one stove plate and no microwave!

  14. Hi there Jo, That post is coming… I am going to do a “Software:pantry/grocery post” and then finally “What we really eat post” Thrilled you are enjoying the series!!! It is quite fun to write as well!!! Hope you have a fun weekend!!!

  15. I’m soooo with you on the Microwave thing! Even cooking for ONE, I still use my stove every day, ebcause home-made food, slowly cooked is better and tastes greater than the quick-fix in the microwave. (and I did not grow up with one, so am completly lost on how to even start – I usually nuke food to a crisp and then have to start from sratch anyway)

    LOVE the apple corer / peeler I would definitely try it out 🙂

  16. I am with you on the toaster-monster! I was perfectly happy before I got one and now it is an endless supply of crumbs! Definitely NOT worth my frustrations. I love the idea of packing lunch in glass jars — simply genius! Isn’t a cupboard full of stained tupperware just the worst?!

  17. Irene, brilliant to hear other folks don’t use theirs… I just can’s see how nuking our food can be good for us and microwave cooking never looks like their brochures/ at all!!! I am seriously thinking of researching an apple-peeler-gadget-thing!!! Hope you have a fun weekend!!!

  18. Oh Jerusha, I was invited to a Tupperware party, in the olden days when I was a student, and when the seller told me their was a life-time warranty… I had visions of a ninety year old me eating reheated dinner out of an eighty year old plastic tub… Just no, I couldn’t face it!!! Who would want those tubs in their closet for a life-time!!! Anyway glass is prettier, recyclable and works for us!!! ANd don’t get me started on toast crumbs… don’t!!! On that crummy not I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!

  19. Had to chime in on the apple peeler/corer, have had mine for years. My kids used it a few times after we got it, it has been loaned out a bit, we used it a lot when we dehydrated a BIG batch of apples every other year, but until your post I had totally forgotten about it. The one thing I will pass on – first chance you get – stock up on replacement blades or figure out how to sharpen the one you have. Like your knife comment – a dull blade on this item renders it frustrating to no end, and as you have probably figured out so do soft apples. I think it is time to teach my little one how to make an apple pie……. Have a great weekend.

  20. I agree, it is always better to shop locally if possible:) Amazon and Lehmans were just the only places I could think to link to to show that larger kettles were out there, lol:)

    Thank you and enjoy the weekend:)

  21. I have the apple peeler too, we bought it in Oz and used it all the time, the school had one for the kids to use at break time too!


  22. Hay Cindy, thanks for the great comment… I would never have thought of blades… I am so lucky to have great readers full of tips, seriously thanks a ton!!! Hope you have a fun weekend too!!!

  23. Thanks Mrs WJAA, for the tips I really appreciate them!!! I haven’t seen larger ones here in the stores but I am definitely going to do an online search this weekend!!! Hope you hav a fun one!!!

  24. Hi there Mrs Hojo, I had no idea how many folks had apple peelers – really!!! Even at school, that should inspire anybody to eat an apple a day!!! Hope you all have a great weekend!!!

  25. 🙂 i think you forgot about your Grill equipment …i Love to cook outside, especially in the summer.Love yours thoughts on everything.

  26. Katja, Honestly, that’s a clever one – I never gave cooking outdoors a thought!!! Hope you have a great weekend!!!

  27. I had a broken dishwasher taking up valuable cabinet space in my kitchen for years. I mostly ended up using it as a hide away drying rack for clean dishes. I will say that I do like having a working dishwasher, but if electricity was as expensive here as it is there I probably wouldn’t use it as much.
    I don’t have a toaster, but I do have a toaster oven. It is sort of like a mini oven. Because I only have 2 kids and my mom and sister are in it with me, I do cook and freeze meals once a month and the toaster oven is just the right size for reheating those meals- I frequent use the microwave to defrost them as I constantly forget to remove them from the freezer. Hopefully I will be getting a refrigerator/freezer combo with a little more space soon.
    I do like my apple peeler/slicer. It works great on potatoes for mashed potatoes too! Uniform potato pieces cook quickly.

  28. Seeing your Kitchen Aid mixer in various food-related posts always makes me smile. 🙂 (My mom still swears her replacement one isn’t nearly as good!) I share your love of wooden chopping boards and I think giving them as wedding gifts is a brilliant idea!

  29. Hay Rikki, It is so interesting to “see” what other folks have in their kitchens!!! I love that you use the peeler for potatoes as well… great idea!!! Have a good week!!!

  30. Hi Laura, Good to hear from you again!!! Where would I be without your mom’s mixer!!! It sure has done its time – it must surely be vintage and a collectable by now – I will never part with it!!! Hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

  31. We have a microwave that we don’t use. We also have a toaster that we use, but with five of us I think it’s getting too small. I love your idea for toasting bread in an oven. My husband would love your huge oven.When I think about pots I must admit that we use the same ones all the time. I am looking forward to your next episode.

  32. Hi Vida, So glad you are enjoying our series, it has been really fun to write!!! We skipped our series last week, we were all ill!!! But we are on the mend so the next instalment will be out this week!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

  33. Hello again. Your series made me think. We do have a dishwasher (for 3 years) and it had saved our time a lot (but not the energy). I like your idea of doing a washing up as a talking time one on one. I have a question: where do you store your flower, sugar or spices in? a glas or plastic containers. Thanks for your answer. I am glad you are all right now.

  34. Hay Vida… A dishwasher certainly does serve its purpose, but their is a place for doing the work and spending the time together as well!!! I am going to answer your question in the next post… it is on the way!!!

  35. Loving this series … and had to comment to say Checkers! Checkers sometimes stocks those apple peelers! I know of two families who got theirs from Checkers at different times. Good to know!

  36. Hay C is for Cape Town – You are kidding me!!! We have never ever seen one here and we are definitely on the hunt for one!!! So, thank you for the fabulous tip… Hope you have a great weekend!!!

  37. We had the same fridge for about 17 years. Then the door fell off (no joke) when the kids were newborns. Had it fixed and was fine for nearly 4 years, and then it fell off again and that was it. Bought a 2nd hand fridge from a friend and LOVE IT!

    (it’s standing in the study – I have to pay someone to cart away all the junk)

  38. Oh Marcia, So good to hear that we are in such good company!!! It appears to be the year that all our appliances conk in… I am wondering how minimalist we can be… we are down to a collapsed fridge, an oven on the blink… honestly I will live without everything except a washer – I can not stand the thought of laundry without a washing machine!!! Hope you have a great day!!!

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