Friday, May 22, 2020

Insourcing...a good week and my 6 kitchen essentials (they're not what you think)...

Social media has a lot to answer for in exhorting us to buy stuff sometimes.
There are groups with thousands, I mean tens of thousands of people on social media, sharing recipes for new ways to use their pie-maker, jaffle-maker, sandwich press, breadmaker, rice cooker, coffee bean grinder, Kitchen Aid, coffee machine, slow cooker, electric frypan, air fryer, benchtop grill or oven, egg boiler, pasta machine, and so on.
Me? I look at that list and think 'sooooo many appliances', and 'soooo much clutter', as well as 'sooo much storage space need'.
I nearly succumbed when an online friend shared pics of her delish looking cakes, frittatas and other assorted goodies, all cooked in her piemaker. Nearly.
But I realistically looked at the way I cook and what we eat, and decided against it.

Instead, here is what I cooked this week and last week, with nary a KMart appliance in sight.
1. First of all, this simple enamelware oblong pie dish is perfect for any baked meal or dessert. It's the right size for our family of three, and accommodates a small roast, a baked custard, a frittata or quiche, a meat or fruit pie, a meatloaf, a lasagne, baked rice pudding, bread and butter pudding, apple sponge, apple roly poly, fruit crumbles or clafoutis, and a dozen other dishes with ease. It cleans up like a dream, and takes up almost no space in my cupboard.
2. My Dutch Oven, purchased at Aldi for about a fifth of the price of a 'name' brand, easily fits four lamb shanks, a large roast, a huge gluten free brioche or cobb loaf, a mammoth casserole, a family sized potato bake, an enormous chicken, a small turkey, a ham hock or two for soup, and doubles as my slow cooker. I seared these lamb shanks at 6:30am, and threw in a quartered onion, some bay leaves, and some baby potatoes, and that's been happily simmering away in my oven on 100C (about 220F), for dinner tonight.

The same Dutch Oven cooked my end-of-week green soup for lunches earlier in the week....
No slow cooker required.

3. My Texas sized muffin pans are used for muffins, cakes, frittatas, quiches, meatballs, mini lasagnas, mini meatloaves, meringues, individual pies, baked bacon and egg, and stuffed tomatoes or potatoes. Cupcake liners keep them pristine, and make transfer from pan to fridge (or pan to mouth!), easy-peasy. Really don't need a pie maker, however much I may wish for one.

4. For big mixing tasks, I have a Sunbeam Mixmaster. No Kitchen Aid here. This works for everything I cook. It lives on my bench with it's two bowls. The beater and whisk attachments live in a drawer.
5. Individual plastic containers, allow me to portion control many things, from homemade custard and yoghurt, to snacks and desserts for work, saving money in a dozen ways.

6. Ziplock bags give me great storage options for my prepped vegetables and fruit, and anything that requires portioning and freezing. A sheet or two of paper towel inserted into them, helps absorb moisture and keeps leafy veg and soft fruit, fresher for longer. These store flat for use in my kitchen drawer. No cumbersome 'specialty' containers necessary. I'd struggle to fit a cabbage, a kilo of broccoli, a bunch of celery, a kilo of beans, and six zucchini in my refrigerator crisper. But not if I cut them up, pop them into a ziplock bag in ready-to-use portions, and put them to bed sleeping upright in the crisper drawer as seen above. Another tip here, is to always use the leafy or 'soft' veg and fruit early in the week...such as spinach, zucchini, beans, and Asian veg, and the 'hard' stuff in the latter half of the week, such as broccoli, pumpkin, celery, snow peas, beets, and carrots. Planning meals accordingly, really helps.

This week, I used all of those items, to fill my refrigerator with meals and snacks for the week ahead. I love pre-preparing this way. It saves us time, money, energy and storage space.

Everyone is different though.

What are your top kitchen essentials?



  1. These are all great cooking tips. I love how organized your refrigerator looks Mimi! Enjoy the weekend.

  2. I too do not need a thermie or a pie maker etc to cook a meal and have versions of your basics that are used weekly.
    I do have some kitchen toys though.
    A good strong hand held beater instead of the Mixmaster. I gave the big girl away to daughter when this household got to just 2 .
    I also use my 2 slow cookers multiple times each week. I am a morning person so they are really useful as I can set up our dinner when I am at my best.
    I have a sister in law who is a great cook but her kitchen appliances and gadgets have taken over not only her kitchen but also 2 spare bedrooms. That is not for me.

    1. I hear you. I know people who have the appliances and still don't cook much. I'm trying hard to minimise in the kitchen. I love the idea of many appliances, but can't justify the purchase given how often (or how little) I'd use them. I'm even thinking of ditching the slow cooker as my oven does this adequately now! Mimi xxx

  3. My top kitchen essential is running water. Not to be taken for granted in our dry country and in rural areas where if the electricity goes off one needs to get the generator running to pump water from the water tank. I do have a u-beaut stand mixer but 99.9 percent of the time still reach for electric beaters I have been using since I was ten. They would be vintage collectibles by now I suppose. I do use our slow cooker at least a few times a month - more so in winter - it is cooking pea and ham soup for dinner tonight. I love my enamel bakeware - and as you say they do clean up like a dream. One of the most used kitchen essentials is a shallow stainless steel roasting pan with a lid. We use it for (without the lid) roasting and for baking slices as it is the perfect size - and when using it to bake slices - after the slice is cooked and cooled we and iced we often keep it in the same pan, with the lid on and pop it in the fridge. Our vacuum sealer gets quite a bit of use too.

    1. Sherri, isn't it funny to have that perspective. Running water is indeed an essential! Well said. I've never considered a vacuum sealer. I must investigate! Mimi xxx

  4. I do have a pie maker and a slow cooker. I also have a sandwich press and a mixer. All get used regularly. Bluey and I both make most of our meals from scratch We both can cook, and I like to bake.Now that there is only the two of us at home, the pie maker is wonderful for making up a few pies or quiche with leftovers. It's also wonderful for making four cakes instead of a dozen. I only have a small kitchen and all of the appliances live in the cupboards. None live on the bench. Our slow cooker is used two or three times a week. It is the one appliance I would replace in a heartbeat if the current one was to break.

    1. Jane that's a very valid point on making four cakes instead of a dozen. My kitchen is small too, hence my desire to minimise 'stuff'. Interesting how we are all different. Mimi xxx


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