The utensil diet

23 Aug

Several years ago, I had to declare a moratorium on kitchen utensils, gadgets and appliances coming into my house. My husband and I both have an almost unnatural love of kitchen gadgets (in fact, one of the things we like to do when we have a few childfree moments is walk around the kitchen gadget store near our house. Romantic? No. Fun? Absolutely!) and, as a result, the appliances were attempting to establish dominance.  

No one needs two ice cream makers, a smoothie maker, a blender, two fondue pots, two griddles, and 1,423 serving spoons, just to name a few. Yet that is what we had. So I made a declaration of kitchen independence. We were going to be free of the tyranny imposed on us by our gadgets and reclaim the kitchen for ourselves! It has worked, for the most part (the bread machine and iced tea maker have not been purchased) but a few weeks ago I did buy a cherry pitter. However,  the smoothie maker and one ice cream maker have been purged, and I have managed to convince my husband that there is no reason for us to ever, ever have a deli meat slicer. So, overall, it’s been a success!

But all of these gadgets got me thinking–do we really need them? How many of them do we actually use? What do I absolutely need and what could I live without? Could we do a utensil diet? Sort of like the 6 Items or Less or The Great American Apparel Diet but with kitchen stuff instead of clothes. Or, I think of it like this: my kitchen, through no fault of mine of course, catches fire and destroys everything. What would I need to replace right away and what could I live without?

To answer these questions, and since I love lists and rules, I devised a list of rules for the utensil diet:

  • There can only be 5 appliances, gadgets, utensils or any combination of the three
  • They can be used for other purposes but the primary use must be in the kitchen
  • Dishes and basic silverware are counted separate from the list of 5
  • Certain baking items are allowed: one casserole pan, one cookie sheet and one round pan

After thinking long and hard about this (by long and hard I mean in about 10 minutes while pretending to do work), I came up with this list of The Empty Kitchen’s must-haves:

  1. A spatula. Good for stir-frys, pancakes, eggs, casseroles and swatting flies. The primary kitchen necessity.
  2. A blender. All I have to say about my blender is this: It’s my industrial strength blender and I can’t live without out it!
  3. A frying pan. Almost anything can be cooked in a frying pan. It is also good for hitting would be burglars over the head.
  4. A good sturdy knife.  A good quality knife can be used on anything including fruits, vegetables, meats, and bread.  And everyone has a reason to cut something.
  5. A medium to large-sized pot. This is crucial for boiling water for pasta, making soup (a dietary staple for me) and stews. Boiling water can also be used to unclog a toilet, so you might want to make sure that you have a pot handy. At. All. Times.  And now, a reenactment:

There are some other items I’d pick if I made the rules more flexible:  my crockpot, griddle and peeler and maybe a strainer, slotted spoon and ladle. But for me, and the way I cook, my list of 5 would suffice.

I just want to go on the record as saying I have absolutely no intention of actually going through with this utensil diet. I would if I had to, or if enough people think it’s a good idea. But now that the utensil invasion has been quashed, and the meat slicer crisis has been averted, I’m satisfied with what’s in my kitchen.

How about you? What would your list of 5 look like?


10 Responses to “The utensil diet”

  1. Another Suburban Mom August 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    I am not sure about my list of 5. I did pare down my kitchen a bunch this summer and its good.

  2. Janna's Keeping it Real! August 24, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    I swear, you at the married/more mature version of me.

    I ❤ gadget aisles. Bed bath and beyond's wall of kitchen goodness? Heck yes! You know where to find me come Friday night. 

    Ok, that's a bit of a stretch…but I do have a fascination slash obsession with useless kitchen items. Lettuce knife? Why not?!? 6 sets of measuring spoons?! Sure!  

    My list of 5 would be the following:
    1) blender
    2) set of measuring spoons/cups
    3) cookie scoop (stop judging me. I love cookies, and I love perfectly sized/shaped cookies even more)
    4) pot for boiling water and whatnot
    5) French press…b/c coffee is basically crack to me and I must have it.daily.

    • theemptykitchen August 24, 2010 at 7:43 am #

      no worries…this is a judgment free zone! i’m the last one to judge. i have 1423 serving spoons. and i have 2 fondue pots. i’m still trying to figure out what it all means…

  3. red_wagon August 24, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    I wouldn’t count pots and pans as “utensils” first of all. But my five would be:

    1. Spatula
    2. Measuring cups/spoons
    3. Hand mixer
    4. crockpot, if you must count that as a gadget/utensil
    5. Good wooden mixing spoon

    That’s hard. And I could never survive on that. In fact, with wedding upon us, we are getting lots of new gadgets and utensils. Including a popcorn maker in the vintage style. Don’t judge me. hehe.

    • theemptykitchen August 24, 2010 at 8:49 am #

      that was the best…the wedding gift gadgets! we’ve joked about getting divorced just to get remarried so we can register again.

  4. Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary August 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    Well, I’m just back from camping. And let me tell you, when you have to pack all your belonging and lug them around with you (yes, we did bring the car, but still, there’s a lot of carrying and packing into and out of the car), you do have to learn to get along without much!

    1) A large pot, useful for making tea, hot chocolate, pasta, mixing lemonade, heating pasta sauce, and a multitude of other things.

    2) A heavy duty frying pan, useful for eggs, pancakes, toast, heating bagels, cooking hamburgers, browning meat, heating beans, warming tortillas, etc.

    3) A spatula for mixing all those things.

    4) A good knife for cutting vegetables, meat, fruit, and so on.

    5) A cutting board. Can’t live without it.

    Of course, we didn’t do much baking while camping (though it is quite possible), so my kitchen list might be somewhat different…

    Fun idea for a post!

    • theemptykitchen August 24, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

      heating a bagel in a frying pan. i had never thought of that. what an interesting idea!

      • Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary August 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

        When you don’t have a toaster, you have to make do! A little butter or margarine on the bagel, open-side down on the frying pan…it’s quite good, I must say.

  5. Charlie Jackson August 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    I know what you mean. I have tons and tons of gadgets and kitchen appliances that I hardly ever use! I guess I’ll have to consolidate like you 😀

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