I've read a lot of great cooking advice on here, and I'm quite a fair cook myself, but also a starving minimalist in a tiny NYC apartment and therefore easily frustrated with using a lot of appliances/cleaning/maintaining etc...
I'm going to try and cook all my meals out of a single cast iron skillet, but I'm wondering if anyone else has any cooking/living tips for the minimalists
I pretty much live and die by minimalism. Makes it super easy to identify what's important.
I'd have to say minimalist living is variable for everybody. It doesn't necessarily mean having absolutely no stuff, living a boring existence, or anti-consumerism, but rather, is about identifying true needs, reconnecting with significant parts of your life, and dishing money for experiences, rather than material items.
For example, I have a non-stick pan, a wok, stock pot, and normal pot. 8" chef's knife, paring knife, steak knife, fork, spoon. One plate, one bowl, pair of chopsticks. Tongs. That's pretty much it, not including a bunch of spices, and some extra empty jars.
However, like I said, people's needs are different. Since food is something I love, am passionate about, and care for, I will spend more money and buy additional things if needed. It's about what's important to you. Crock pots are great for stocks and busy folks.
I find that the simpler I keep my kitchen, the less food that gets rotten because I can SEE it, and the cleaner my flavors are. Simple food is quite hard to make sometimes...like perfect buttery-roast chicken, stir-fry beef with basil, or basil eggplant.
Think multitask. Each kitchen item should be able to do alot of things. I don't recommend one-chop-stop type of items (basically super specialized items to the point of ridiculousness.) Once you start creatively thinking the kitchen, you'd need less and less.
Examples: Salad spinner: Big towel, your arm. Swing. or colander, spin by yourself. Steamer: Heavy duty foil with holes. Peeler: Paring knife.
Control Clutter. Ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" For large purchases, hold off a week or two. Ask yourself again, "Do I really need this?" Usually, it's no.
Control Mental Clutter. The world is chaotic. Relinquish control and go with the flow. When you do a task, be in ONE mind. Multitasking is no good. Be present in the moment.
"Get organized" is one piece of advice I hear alot. I say, if you're a minimalist, there's nothing TO organize. Easy peasy. Donate stuff you don't use. Or sell it. Or craigslist. Freecycle. Goodwill. Do you really need 56 pairs of shoes? 30 t-shirts?
When you get to the extremes (like those # item challenges, like on owning only 100 things)...it's kinda fun too, if you're into that.
I find waking in a near empty room very enlightening, and very stress-free. But I'm pretty far into minimalism. If you asked me to move, I could fit all my stuff in a Ford Focus, furniture included, in 2.5 hours. Traveling light is super liberating as well...!
I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of?
Leo Babauta has some great posts that got me going.
Hope that helps. Hope you can simplify and feel great about it!
Do you have an oven? I am a simple, minimalist (aka lazy) cook, but the oven is indispensable for baking my bacon, fish and chicken thighs, finishing my steaks and lamb chops (after I've pan-seared them in the skillet), and roasting my starchy tubers.
It's my preferred style because I wash dishes and pans by hand.
If I'm cooking raw meat, I start with that and add fresh or cooked vegetables at the appropriate point. When approaching ready, I just turn the heat off the skillet and cover, so the food finishes blending and exchanging flavors while I eat my fruit and salad. One pan/lid, 2 dishes to wash.
I also slow-cook a lot and the scenario is pretty much the same. I carve out a portion of refrigerated stew and let it reheat in a covered skillet while I eat fruit and salad. One pan/lid, 2 dishes to wash.
If I'm REALLY feeling lazy, I dish the main course into the same bowl my salad was in so there's only 1 dish to wash. :-))
I'm also a minimalist cook. My two main tools are a cast iron skillet set that also makes a dutch oven when the shallow skillet is inverted. See here. The big skillet also works well as a pot, from boiling water to making dishes that require stirring frequently, like a good curry.
My other main tool is an ulu with a good wooden bowl. in my opinion, you need no other cutlery, this can chop anything, meat or veggies or whatever.
The dutch oven allows me to basically not need a crock pot or slow cooker, and I never use my oven, which doesn't seem trustworthy. I've found that with the money I save from buying meats and veggies in bulk, I've been earning back the cost of my equipment quickly. If I had to live in primitive conditions, this cookware could do it. If it works there, it works wondrously in NYC.
As for other tips, I can use the same oil to condition my skillets and my ulu and ulu bowl, and this is also the oil I can cook with. That has also simplified my cooking and maintenance process. Also, it's a lot cheaper to buy raw in the long run. I eat only two meals a day, which sometimes means cooking only once -- making a small something in the morning, adding veggies, and letting it simmer in the dutch oven all day for when I get home.
Hope this helps. I'll add anything more if I think of it.
Only tools I deem necessary for my cooking: cast iron pan, tongs, spatula, wooden spoon, box grater, chefs knife, paring knife, bamboo cutting board, steamer basket (great for getting tubers going while you cook your meat, huge time saver), 1 pot.
Optional, but THE BEST: crock pot. I can fit all my cooking items in one cupboards, and I am a picky foodie who used to work in restaurants. Have this little list, and you can cook almost anything!