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The Perfect Kitchen

 
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Over the years, I've explored many different things for a kitchen. My primary focus is day-to-day cooking with a seasonal adjustment to food preservation. I have had years where I've canned 200 jars of food, and years where I've canned nothing. However, the common denominator between all of these various tasks is a fairly well equipped kitchen.

In my kitchen, I have the following:

I have a 6' countertop that is the primary prep area for all meals. This is just your plane jane $35 counter top at the local home store.

A stand-alone upright fridge, and a stand-alone chest freezer, which also doubles as a countertop. I would consider doing a chest freezer conversion to fridge someday as well. I have the parts, just never did it.

I've had MANY fridge/freezer combinations over the years and I'd gotten tired of fridges that didn't cool or freezers that didn't freeze. If you have the cheap top freezer, the only thing that regulates the fridge temperature is a little draft door at the back of the freezer compartment going down to the fridge. That stupid door is the source of many issues. We bought our fridge new 4 years ago and it's still going strong- from a local appliance dealer who stated that he buys appliances for REPAIRABILITY. Many of the newer appliances are NOT repairable. Another bonus with the 2 separate appliances is a lower power bill overall.

COIL TOP electric range, for those of you who use electric for cooking. If you use gas- then I would advise a model that doesn't use glow bar ignition. (hard to find). Coil tops are far superior to flat tops, heat faster, extremely repairable, and last forever. If you can find one that does NOT have a digital display for the oven that is much better. You can usually find these cheap on various swap sites. I bought the one I currently have for $25 and replaced a coil in the oven for $20 and have a excellent range for less than $50.00. I also can outdoors on a Camp Chef propane stove as well. That keeps a lot of the heat out of the house.

Smooth cast iron pans. I don't care if they say GRISWOLD on the back. I've found cast iron pans from antique dealers with NO maker stamp on them that are far superior to Griswold. I look for the lightest weight ones possible. I haven't used my cast iron as much once I got into Revereware as they heat faster.

REVEREWARE pots and pans. These are the predecessors of the high-end brands of today- All-Clad and others. Your grandmother had Revereware and your relatives likely still use it. They made a whole line of pots and pans. I also prefer the ones with the older logos on them. Do a bit of research- I believe it's pre-1967. I have made wooden handles for them and there's plastic handles available online.

RADA knives. These knives are made in Iowa, United States and when sharpened, cut through a completely ripe tomato with ease. I have never found a better knife for the price. I have a whole set of them plus their spatula. All excellent kitchen tools for a VERY reasonable price. Might be better ones, but I can't find a better one for $5.

Wal-Mart used to sell blow molded bowls that were made in the USA. I have 8 of them now. They all stack perfectly and the stack is only about 1.5" higher than 1 bowl. The bowl is about 12" across and 6" deep. They'll hold over a gallon- a must-have for canning.

The rest of the stuff we have is pretty standard issue and I'm not terribly picky about everything else. But the preceding items I consider the best quality for what you can get.

I also happen to have a dehydrator from the 1970's. I couldn't tell you what the brand name is right off but the trays are 13" x 13" and I can't buy trays for it anymore. It's a excellent quality well made dehydrator, and they still come up on eBay occasionally. It has a fan, heater, and thermosat. Nothing more. One of these days I'll build a box that will take 15" standard trays and swap out the electronic parts.

 
pollinator
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I now live in the tropics and live a much more simplistic and permie lifestyle, so my "perfect" kitchen is far, far different than I would have dreamed of 20 years ago.

... Outdoors. Under a roof for rain protection. A garden hose nearby for clean up afterwards.
... A double sink. Two prep tables. A rat & bug proof storage cabinet for items I don't want to keep hauling out from the house.
... A source of electricity. Running water, preferably with a hot water too.
... A propane stove that doesn't require electricity to operate. It would be in a large protective cabinet that would open up for use, so that the stove would be protected from the weather, acidic air, and rats.
... A large steel pot for brothy soups and steaming veggies, a cast iron frying pan and a good wok, a few heavy pots for general cooking, a tea kettle for heating water for tea & coffee. I'm not fussy about brands as long as they are functional and last.
... A couple of solid wood cutting boards.
... A heavy serrated bread knife. Assorted paring knives. Yup, that's all I use.

The frig and freezer are both Sundanzers and would stay indoors to protect them from the acidic moisture in the air. Same for all other appliances.

I don't desire or need high quality much of anything. As long as it is durable, that's fine. Ive been in kitchens that had 20-30 different pots and pans, 2 dozen assorted knives, special whisks and other hand tools, all sorts of kitchen gadgets......don't need any of that. I just keep it simple though not totally minimalistic.

I don't presently have this kitchen, but it's in the plans. Once I'm finished building the rest of the house (should be done by next year), I fully plan to create my outdoor kitchen. I'll still keep a mini kitchen indoors, but the bulk of food preparation will be done outdoors.
 
J Anders
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Su Ba wrote:I now live in the tropics and live a much more simplistic and permie lifestyle, so my "perfect" kitchen is far, far different than I would have dreamed of 20 years ago.

... Outdoors. Under a roof for rain protection. A garden hose nearby for clean up afterwards.
... A double sink. Two prep tables. A rat & bug proof storage cabinet for items I don't want to keep hauling out from the house.
... A source of electricity. Running water, preferably with a hot water too.
... A propane stove that doesn't require electricity to operate. It would be in a large protective cabinet that would open up for use, so that the stove would be protected from the weather, acidic air, and rats.
... A large steel pot for brothy soups and steaming veggies, a cast iron frying pan and a good wok, a few heavy pots for general cooking, a tea kettle for heating water for tea & coffee. I'm not fussy about brands as long as they are functional and last.
... A couple of solid wood cutting boards.
... A heavy serrated bread knife. Assorted paring knives. Yup, that's all I use.

The frig and freezer are both Sundanzers and would stay indoors to protect them from the acidic moisture in the air. Same for all other appliances.

I don't desire or need high quality much of anything. As long as it is durable, that's fine. Ive been in kitchens that had 20-30 different pots and pans, 2 dozen assorted knives, special whisks and other hand tools, all sorts of kitchen gadgets......don't need any of that. I just keep it simple though not totally minimalistic.

I don't presently have this kitchen, but it's in the plans. Once I'm finished building the rest of the house (should be done by next year), I fully plan to create my outdoor kitchen. I'll still keep a mini kitchen indoors, but the bulk of food preparation will be done outdoors.



That would be an ideal outdoor kitchen for the tropics! I also have a Sur La Table wok, however, there are woks made in the USA that are just as capable for the same cost.

Functional and long-lasting are qualities that I look for as well. I mentioned my electric range, as it might not have a lot of relevance to die-hard permies, it's a insight on what to look for if you're in the market for an electric range that will last a long time.

What do you use for dish soap there?
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Dish soap ---- non-permie Dawn. Because it cuts grease well, which is a plus for clean up after butchering a pig or lamb. Dawn also does a good job as a sticker/spreader for my homemade bug killing concoctions.

Just to ease the minds of the offended permies, we do use homemade soap for showering. We have several local makers of very nice handmade soap in my area. And ya know, if Dawn disappeared I'd just switch to using the homemade soap. It's just not as easy to rinse off of things.
 
pollinator
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What I'm looking for in a kitchen has changed over the years. The house I'm building isn't going to need multiple work spaces because it's being built just for me. That being said I do tend to spread out. My current kitchen is 9' x 16' and I have to say I think that it's the perfect size. I'm having trouble finding examples of kitchen this size in natural building. And I do want extra storage like a garage for canning pots, dehydrator, meat slicer, etc.

The plan is to also have an outdoor/summer kitchen. Hopefully, with a low canning/stock burner. It's getting harder and harder to lift heavy canners to the stovetop. This will be shared with my daughter and any guests we have on the property.

I've never had problems with refrigerator/freezer not keeping things cool, although I did have one that dripped inside.

I think that the most important thing is good knives and a way to keep them sharp. Unfortunately I've never been very good at knife sharpening, but I'm working on it. But I still can't go back and forth between my western knives and my Japanese knives, the different angle throws me. My go-to knives are a serrated knife, a chef's knife and a small boning knife that doubles as a paring knife.

I also have a speed rack that holds sheet trays or half sheet trays. I love this. It's on wheels, so I can move it around. When things come out of the oven, the sheet tray gets put right on the rack to cool, and it holds about 8 trays or 16 half trays. I've also made screens for drying that fit into the rack.


I loathe electric stoves, but so many of the properties we look at have them, some even those horrid glass tops. We will definitely look to replacing with gas. And likely gas and wood for the outdoor kitchen.
 
J Anders
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Stacy Witscher wrote:What I'm looking for in a kitchen has changed over the years. The house I'm building isn't going to need multiple work spaces because it's being built just for me. That being said I do tend to spread out. My current kitchen is 9' x 16' and I have to say I think that it's the perfect size. I'm having trouble finding examples of kitchen this size in natural building. And I do want extra storage like a garage for canning pots, dehydrator, meat slicer, etc.

The plan is to also have an outdoor/summer kitchen. Hopefully, with a low canning/stock burner. It's getting harder and harder to lift heavy canners to the stovetop. This will be shared with my daughter and any guests we have on the property.

I've never had problems with refrigerator/freezer not keeping things cool, although I did have one that dripped inside.

I think that the most important thing is good knives and a way to keep them sharp. Unfortunately I've never been very good at knife sharpening, but I'm working on it. But I still can't go back and forth between my western knives and my Japanese knives, the different angle throws me. My go-to knives are a serrated knife, a chef's knife and a small boning knife that doubles as a paring knife.

I also have a speed rack that holds sheet trays or half sheet trays. I love this. It's on wheels, so I can move it around. When things come out of the oven, the sheet tray gets put right on the rack to cool, and it holds about 8 trays or 16 half trays. I've also made screens for drying that fit into the rack.


I loathe electric stoves, but so many of the properties we look at have them, some even those horrid glass tops. We will definitely look to replacing with gas. And likely gas and wood for the outdoor kitchen.



Thank you for sharing Stacy! 9x16 is a very reasonable size for a kitchen, would that be an UUUUU shape? I used to have a house that I remodeled with a kitchen that was 8x8? 2 24" countertops 6' long with a fridge at the end of the U. The fridge was in a alcove. I think it was right at 6x8. Worked out real nice with a 8" exhaust fan in the ceiling that went straight to the roof, a small bar area and the rest of the kitchen was enclosed other than a door. My current kitchen is 10x13 and with stuff on all the walls that just isn't enough wall space. Plenty of FLOOR space but i can't can on the floor! It needs an island. Currently have the kitchen table in there but that's not ideal. We are planning on taking a wall out between the kitchen and living room and then move the table, and then there will be a better spot for an island.

Where did you find the speed rack? That sounds like a really good idea, never thought of having one of those before, but having one of those would get my kitchen to the point where I would say "I can can and bake to sell at market now!" whereas right now I only have cooling capacity for 2-3 half sheets.

Turkey burners work great for canner burners... I really like my Camp Chef and never move canners full of water as a rule. Even use the garden hose to fill the canner.

This is my go-to knife sharpener- simple and works great. I used to have one that was mounted on the back of a can opener that was really nice as well. They sell them under many brand names, this is just a picture to show what kind I have.



Care to share why you hate electric stoves? I find that I need to have an electric stove in my house because gas will quickly make the air quality go to pot. Flat tops are really horrible though.
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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J Anders - My current kitchen was like a UUUUU, but I opened it up to the family room and reconfigured it so it's open on the family room side and has a door to the garage and one to the dining room. 10x13 seems like one of those awkward shapes, too big for a galley style but a little too small for an island.

The speed rack was a gift. I think my mother got it from amazon, but any restaurant supply store will have it.

Turkey burner sounds like a great idea, I'll keep that in mind. At some of the restaurants that I worked, we had faucets over the stoves to fill stock pots. I'm not so lucky at home. And I'm probably building a straw bale house, plumbing will be congregated on interior walls.

I've used one of those knife sharpeners before, most of the time I use a whetstone.

I don't like electric stoves because of the lack of control. If something is boiling over on a gas stove, all I have to do is turn it down, on an electric stove you have to move the pot. It never even occurred to me to worry about the air quality when using a gas stove. I've never had a problem with that. The stove has a hood, and there is a window in the kitchen.
 
pollinator
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Solar Dehydrator: for food preservation
Pressure Cooker : for beans, red meat, steaming, etc
Vacuum Insulated pot esp if it is solar powered, (GoSun I am looking at you)

Milk Kefir and Water Kefir Station (for all 60 different species of good probiotic microbes) to use less energy to cook.

Juicer :the pulp for soups, additives to flatbread/baked goods/gravy/rice/pasta sauce and the juice to drink
I think the juicer is one of the best way to get more vegetable pulp in ones diet.

Countertop Oven, I think it is better than a microwave.

Sharp Knife

Seeing as how I am dreaming a freeze dryer
https://harvestright.com/product/large-pharmaceutical/


 
J Anders
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Stacy Witscher wrote:J Anders - My current kitchen was like a UUUUU, but I opened it up to the family room and reconfigured it so it's open on the family room side and has a door to the garage and one to the dining room. 10x13 seems like one of those awkward shapes, too big for a galley style but a little too small for an island.

The speed rack was a gift. I think my mother got it from amazon, but any restaurant supply store will have it.



I saw that I can get one for $80.00 plus what ever shipping is online. Not a bad price at all and 350lb capacity would be really really nice.

Turkey burner sounds like a great idea, I'll keep that in mind. At some of the restaurants that I worked, we had faucets over the stoves to fill stock pots. I'm not so lucky at home. And I'm probably building a straw bale house, plumbing will be congregated on interior walls.



Yes, we've discussed getting a pot filler as well. They would be handy, but then again we don't (currently) do a lot of pots and such in the house- don't have a range hood myself.

I've used one of those knife sharpeners before, most of the time I use a whetstone.

I don't like electric stoves because of the lack of control. If something is boiling over on a gas stove, all I have to do is turn it down, on an electric stove you have to move the pot. It never even occurred to me to worry about the air quality when using a gas stove. I've never had a problem with that. The stove has a hood, and there is a window in the kitchen.



Ahh yes, I understand. Hadn't thought about that one. They aren't ideal but there's more of a thought process to a electric stove. Such, as when I do oatmeal, I always turn the burner off to simmer for a minute and then I leave the pot on the burner to sit for 10 mins. Still hot when the oatmeal is done.
 
J Anders
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S Bengi wrote:Solar Dehydrator: for food preservation
Pressure Cooker : for beans, red meat, steaming, etc
Vacuum Insulated pot esp if it is solar powered, (GoSun I am looking at you)

Milk Kefir and Water Kefir Station (for all 60 different species of good probiotic microbes) to use less energy to cook.

Juicer :the pulp for soups, additives to flatbread/baked goods/gravy/rice/pasta sauce and the juice to drink
I think the juicer is one of the best way to get more vegetable pulp in ones diet.

Countertop Oven, I think it is better than a microwave.

Sharp Knife

Seeing as how I am dreaming a freeze dryer
https://harvestright.com/product/large-pharmaceutical/




We can always dream. I have two different sizes of pressure canners and a dehydrator. I used to have a Champion juicer, wish I had it still. Need to get another one. A good size countertop oven can be much better and faster than a regular oven as they heat up faster.... microwaves are the scum of the earth.
 
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I didn't want to start a separate thread for this entry and hand't seen any mentioned of air-fryers in a search of the forum so this seems like the most appropriate place.  

Air fryers seem all the rage right now and we tried a rather cheap offering that has a pull-out bucket.....it died rather quickly, but we liked the concept of a countertop item that could faux-fry certain items.  It was a bit pricey, but I decided to go even more elaborate and got the Cuisinart countertop oven that does air-frying, convection baking, etc. and draws a peak 1800W.  We have now found that we are just using our standard electric range oven compartment for storage!  The countertop oven does most things that the larger oven can do but uses less power, takes less time, and we are only cooking for two anyway.  I haven't put it through all functions and tests and this is in no way an endorsement of this brand, it simply is the one we settled on hoping it will last for many years.

There are some unexpected benefits with the drying function that have proven useful in a humid climate.  Our garden peaks in August and September and that is the time many of the tree fruits are ready as well.  When trying to dry fruits and veggies with a solar-based dryer, there still is the problem of the items taking up moisture at night if I have not recovered them in a timely fashion.  The countertop air-dryer comes to the rescue:  Place the items in the basket and turn temp to the lowest setting (warm) and finish the drying in 20 - 30 min.  This has also proven very useful for finishing half-cooked items that come out of the solar oven, usually due to unexpected cloud cover or just getting to the time of year when the sun angle is too low.  So overall, the countertop oven is getting much use....more than expected.....and complements other countertop items in the kitchen very nicely.   I don't know if other's have had good or bad experiences with these, but if it lasts, it seems to have many uses in one unit and is preferred over cranking up the large electric coils in the oven.
CountertopOven.JPG
[Thumbnail for CountertopOven.JPG]
 
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