My Love/Hate Relationship with my Kitchen Ends

So, I’m wrapping up the series I started at the beginning of April.

I covered the clutter-busting tips and my friend, Grace, helped me determine which appliances to keep. But, what about the big thing…the one thing I said I was going to STOP DOING and START DOING.

I said I was going to stop cooking and go raw, didn’t I? Well, I did it. Kinda. And it made my life a bit more simple. Here’s what I did:

1) I outsourced dinner. This isn’t a blog about ‘saving money’. If it were, then I definitely be a big failure in this area. But, this is one way I made my life more simple. While I managed to find healthy things for dinner most nights for myself, I ‘outsourced’ dinner for my husband to any restaurant of his choosing. Sometimes he ate sandwiches or leftovers at home. Sometimes he went the carry-out pizza route. The bottom line: I vowed to stop stressing over dinner. Mission accomplished.

2) I did go raw. About 75%, anyway. I consumed tons of veggies, salads, handy fruits and nuts. The lovely Grace gave us a nice little list of quick no-cook food choices, which I share at the end. If you want more of Grace’s help, then schedule a one-on-one with her. She’s a cutie.

This is yummy!!

This is yummy!!

Photocredit for Healthy Chickpea Salad

Warm Coconut Millet Porridge - YUMMMMM!!

Warm Coconut Millet Porridge – YUMMMMM!!

Photocredit for Warm Coconut Millet Porridge

3) Cooking was minimal. I once thought sweet potatoes were a PITA, but honestly, that’s because I had never cooked a sweet potato in my life. And if that wasn’t bad enough…Grace giggled when I asked “And just how does one cook brown rice?” (In the oven, silly!!) My food choices were made simple with her help: Hard boiled eggs, brown rice, baked sweet potatoes…and lots and lots of soup.

And how do I feel? Fan-Freaking-Tastic! Now, I can focus on a few tasks a ‘dinner’ time, like cuddling with the Little Guy, folding laundry beside him while he plays, and making his dinner while I make my own. (Yep, makin’ baby food. How domestic of me, right??)

I lost 4 pounds in April – a pound a week, which is healthy – and I never counted a single calorie. I drank wine, ate some ice cream (okkkay…..A LOT of ice cream. Whatever. Gosh!) and enjoyed my popcorn with real butter. I switched to whole milk which cut down on buying SKIM MILK for breakfast and HALF & HALF for my coffee. Beside, whole milk is really good for you despite what Weight Watchers tries to tell you.  The point is, when I stopped focusing on extensive meal planning and storing massive amounts of food for the apocalypse, it all seemed to work out better for me.

I’ll get back to the heart of simplicity and my journey next month. But this month was a fun experiment and I think it’s something I will continue as my path to simplicity.

The Beautiful Miss Grace

The Beautiful Miss Grace

Grace’s Simple NO COOK Meals:

Yogurt with nuts, dried cranberries, and honey.
Apples with Almond Butter
Tortilla with any nut butter and raisins
Salad topped with Garbanzo beans, nuts, & dried cranberries
A sandwich on Sprouted Bread
Any Grain* + Beans + Veggie combo

*Oven baked brown rice: 2 1/3 c. of water and 1 1/2 c. of brown rice, 1 TB EVOO, 1 tsp. salt. Bake in a 8X8 baking dish, foil covered for 1 1/4 hours at 375*.  Portion this out and freeze for later.

And those sweet potatoes? Bake them. Easy breezy!!!!!

Advertisement

My Colossal Cave of Clutter

My kitchen has been on my nerves for quite some time. Mostly because it is never HGTV ready. But…I took a step back and put things into perspective. So, let me just begin today by saying “I have a baby”.  Babies bring an entirely new set of clutter with them that I never imagined.

A baby swing sits where my breakfast nook table was stationed.

One side of my cupboard contains baby stuff like baby food, bottles, miniature spoons and some things I probably don’t need but keep anyway like empty baby formula containers (Because I’m a container-addict, that’s why! Don’t judge me.)

formulababyfood

But, at the current moment, I need these things. Kitchen items I need for the Little Guy include an immersion blender, a food chopper, a juicer, a blender and ice cube trays. I need these things for making food and mixing formula. Once the Little Guy can eat normal people food, some of these items will be traded, sold, or donated. And really, I’m okay with ‘baby clutter’. One can outgrow ‘baby clutter’.

It’s adult clutter that drives me crazy. I own five skillets, three sauce pans, and two stock pots. I have eight spatulas. I know. *Sigh* I am a Minimalism Retard. I preach “Get rid of stuff!” so often you may view me as a hypocrite. And I’m fine with that. Because, folks, these things make my life simpler which is the goal. But, as promised

I set off to declutter the kitchen and honestly, I only found three things I’m willing to part with at the current moment.  If you want an apple slicer (just how lazy am I????), a garlic press (Duh…grocery stores sell jars of minced garlic) and wine bottle opener (Ummmm….okay, yes. I can part with this. I have two more) just let me know.

But, alas…I did check in with the lovely Grace at The Nude Foodie and asked her “What utensils and what small appliances can you not live without?” And here are her answers:

Grace’s Top 5 Small Appliance list

A food processor (YAY!)
A good, high quality blender (YAY!)
Toaster Oven
Crockpot/slow cooker
and her fifth one…

Evaluate your life. Some people ‘need’ a microwave. Others think they are evil. You may feel like you need a juicer. Or a rice cooker. Whatever.” she said.  I agree. I’m coming to grips with the fact that the griddle is just collecting dust, more than two skillets is overkill, and unless I can use this waffle iron to make brownies or cinnamon rolls once in a while, it may find its way to the thrift store. The point is to not hold on to things you never use and I think we can all agree that nobody needs an apple slicer. (Or…maybe…never mind.) Grace lives with four children and doesn’t own a coffee pot or a microwave. I don’t know how she does this, and I don’t care. I stand in awe of her.

Grace’s Top 5 Utensil List

One good, long and sharp, chef’s knife
A wire strainer
One high quality skillet
A stock pot and a sauce pan*
A zester/microplane

*Ummm…nice try, Grace. That’s technically two.

Grace says to look for things that can serve more than one function. For example, a wire strainer can also function as a steamer or colander. A good knife opens packages, cuts veggies, slices meat, and crushes garlic. (Of course you would wash it in between functions, silly non-cooking girl.) And a note on knives: “Think long and sharp. A short dull knife is useless.”, says Grace.

So this week, I’m totally rethinking my juicer. I love the health-induced idea of juicing. It’s the PITA juicer clean up that gets me every time! I functioned just fine for three days without my coffee pot, using only a french press. I also drank less coffee because it took a bit more effort.  I’m starting to think I’m lazy.

What can you part with this week? What do you think of Grace’s lists and what is on your Top 5 list?

Spice Up Your Kitchen by Simplifying

Last week I wrote about waste and my decisions to make my life a bit simpler here in our Sho-Me state home. So far things have been a tad bit interesting, and even a bit emotional, to say the least.

As promised, I met with Grace to come up with a few little lists which I will share with you today and throughout the month. But first, let’s get to the heart of it.

My decision to stop cooking has resulted in the following:

1) I gained five hours of my life back each week. I feel less stress and find I have time to keep up with other things. This is good.

2) I feel an enormous amount of guilt. Each night I watch the Hubster forage through the kitchen at 6 pm only to watch him pop a frozen Country Fried Steak in the microwave. Said Country Fried Steak is then smothered under a blanket of mustard. Is this emotional and social programming? I mean, what kind of wife am I to let my best friend starve to death? Or…do I really believe he will die from the overconsumption of processed foods? Probably a little of both.

3) I’ve lost weight. Salads and whole foods will do that to a person. In fact, rumor has it that if you eat ‘real food’ you don’t really need to count calories anymore. The body is an amazing vehicle that seems to understand exactly what you need, if only it is provided with the proper fuel in the first place.

So far my decision to stop cooking has been both good and bad. I mean, I still cook. I made brown rice and I baked a sweet potato. I’m not a full-on hippie, for Pete’s sake. Even made myself a bowl of cookie dough…of course…I tried to consume the entire bowl before I baked the cookies, but frankly, that’s beside the point.

Anyway. On to Grace’s list to help me clear the clutter from my kitchen!  I asked The Nude Foodie herself if she could only have TEN SPICES in her cupboard, which would she choose? Here are her answers:

(There are other opinions, like this one, but ultimately it’s your kitchen.)

We argued about nutmeg. I love nutmeg. She says “Eh, it’s not really necessary.”  Meh. Silly, Grace. Whateverrr. As you can see, I have lots of work to do in the clutter-clearing arena this week, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by my results. Stay tuned.

Some are a bit dusty on top. Proof I don't cook.

Some are a bit dusty on top. Proof I don’t cook.

Food for Thought

Tuesday is trash night at our house and consequently the day I shred papers, empty the garbage cans in each room and clean out the refrigerator. This week I was shoulders-deep in my fridge, reaching into the depths of moldy leftovers when something dawned on me that made me mad as hell.

There I was…cleaning out my refrigerator…throwing away leftovers we didn’t eat…to make room for more leftovers we won’t eat. I felt my jaw tighten and I shook my head as I thought, “So, essentially, I might as well just chuck $5 bills into the garbage can and stop cooking. Isn’t that the same thing as throwing away all this food?”  And…I may have used a not-so-nice adjective before ‘food’ that I’d be embarrassed to say in front of my mom, my son and my pastor.)

Later that day I read this in a NY Times article about Graham Hill:  “The Natural Resources Defense Council reports, for example, that 40 percent of the food Americans buy finds its way into the trash.”

A little bit of research led me to this: While about 1 billion people globally do not have enough to eat, Americans toss out about 40 percent of all U.S.-produced food”. Grrrr.

In that moment, I made a major decision: I’m going to make things simple.

Are you surprised? I mean, this is a blog about how to make life SIMPLE, right?!? Consequently, I’m going to write about this decision over the course of the month because that’s the other point of this creepy online diary.

How am I going to make things simpler?

1)      I’m going to stop cooking. I never liked to cook. I like to bake, but that’s because I like to eat baked goods. But, I don’t like to cook. So, I’m going to stop (or ‘stop-ish’).

2)      Fend for Yourself is on the dinner menu from here on out. My husband is a grown man and wrinkles his nose when I suggest quinoa. “Keen-What?”  I also want to eat a more plant-based diet which also tends to make him exit the kitchen as quickly as possible. So, he will eat what he wants to eat and I will eat what I want to eat. So, I definitely won’t get honorable mention here.

3)     I’ll ‘outsource’ if necessary. Just because I practice rational minimalism doesn’t mean I don’t believe in outsourcing activities that can simplify your life. I know those things cost money – but this isn’t a blog about a cheapskate lifestyle. Practicing mindful-consumerism and living a more simplified lifestyle can save you money – but that’s only a byproduct of living this life. I will outsource something that will “give me” more time.

4)      I’m going raw. Yep…maybe not 100% but I’m making some changes. And I’m getting help in the process from two of the most beautiful women in the world: Grace – The Nude Foodie and Meg – Feed Me, Darling. (Both are on Pinterest, by the way. What?  You thought I’d get through an entire blog post without mentioning ‘Pinterest’. Silly, Reader.)

5)      Finally…just when you thought it couldn’t get any more Spartan…Grace is going to help declutter my kitchen and give you some tips as well. I’ve done this several times before, but I still feel like my kitchen is a cesspool of collective clutter. It’s the one room of the house that continues to bug the crapola out of me.

So…stay tuned, lovelies, and keep reading. I’ll let you know if anyone dies.

Announcing the April Challenge:

Find two small appliances you think you can live without. like your microwave or (GASP!) a coffee maker. Take them to your storage closet. Don’t use them for ONE MONTH. Use only one favorite knife this month. And lastly…vow to not cook for at least ONE NIGHT each week. Outsource it or eat something simple and easy. Can’t wait to hear!

March Challenge Review:

How did you with the March challenge?  I realized I had a tote of ‘winter clothes’ in the shed I didn’t even unpack this year. I was just ‘post baby’ and still wearing maternity pants when the season started (Hey, don’t hate on me. Those things are COMFY!). I didn’t even open it. Just took the entire tote to Goodwill. I hope there wasn’t something uber cute in there. How about YOU??  How did you do?

My March Challenge Results