In a comment about our new bathroom someone asked whether our kitchen design was different too. I hadn’t thought about kitchen in those terms, but perhaps it is radical – it’s not very much like the kitchens I see in Bunnings. I do love it though – it would be one of the main things I would miss if I ever moved.
What makes it different?
We have a tiny fridge. Fridges use a lot of power. We have stand alone solar power, and although now we have so much of it we’re more often looking for ways to use it than to save it, our electricity use is designed to allow for a weeks of overcast weather. All the routine electricity consuming things like lights and fridge are very efficient, all the big users like washing machine and water pumping can wait till the sun shines. And I find eating fresh and minimising waste both work better with a tiny fridge.
The three slide out buckets under the bench for chook food, recyclables, rubbish are also a design that has lasted. They are just drawer sliders with a piece of timber with a cut out handle and a bucket sized hole. I can just scrape chook food off the bench into the bucket, and lift the bucket out to feed the chooks.
I love my big central bench that several people can work at at once. The big solid slabs of grey gum that it is made from (along with all the kitchen shelving) came from a tree that was grown and milled locally. It’s a hard hardwood that stands up beautifully to wear. It’s been resanded and sealed once about 10 years ago, after 15 years of pastry and pasta and preserving, hot pots and teenagers chopping bread without a board. I know how lucky I am – timber like that is a luxury these days and it will never go out of fashion.
Open pantry shelves with everything in glass jars is a design that I’ve never regretted. In our rural home, keeping creatures out of things is a challenge. I could use much stronger language. Any cupboard or wall cavity or drawer is a hidey hole where an antichinus or a mouse or a rat or a skink or a moth will take up residence. I find open shelves and everything in glass jars keeps creatures out. I can see what I have which encourages me to use it, and it’s easier to avoid clutter. I keep quite a stock of dry pantry staples – beans, oats, flour, lentils, rice. It helps avoid supermarket trips – I can normally delay it for a long time with what we have on the shelves and in the garden – which is extra good when the supermarket is half an hour away but I think a good thing anyway – supermarkets are sticky traps.
I love my old fashioned double sink with a draining board either side and no dishwasher. It’s never usually this tidy, or empty. I actually don’t mind washing up at all – I think it can be a bit of daily mindfulness – some of my best ideas happen while washing up – but I hate drying up and normally leave dishes to drain dry. I think good systems for washing up is one of those old-fashioned skills that, when you have them, make chores like this quite nice. Whether it is two plates from lunch or a 12 person dinner party, the system handles it. Sometimes we need to be very frugal with water and power and our greywater doesn’t “disappear” so I like a lot of control over what is in it.
The gas stove and the slow combustion wood stove will probably both go in the next five years or so. With a 4.5kva solar power system, on sunny days even in mid-winter we have power to waste, so I bake bread in a George Foreman electric oven, cook beans in a crockpot slow cooker, make coffee and cook meals on an induction burner. For summer dinner parties we have a charcoal barbeque. On wet winter’s days I cook on the Rayburn slow combustion stove and it heats the house and the hot water. So we use very little non-renewable fuel for anything in the kitchen these days. We picked up the retro “Radiation” brand gas stove about 20 years ago in a roadside throwout. I like it aesthetically but it is not often used and with non-use, the creatures set up home in the oven insulation. It will probably be replaced with an electric induction hotplate. The Rayburn slow combustion is about a hundred years old and has pretty well reached the end of its life. We’ve rebricked it once but it has cracks and warps in the metal now. I’d love any recommendations you have for replacing it – something that is efficient wood burning with a wetback for water heating and an oven.
I have an aversion to single-purpose kitchen gadgetry and a love for beautiful kitchen tools designed to last generations. But I’m also a coffee snob, specially now we are growing most of our own coffee. The Little Guy coffee maker was ridiculously expensive even second hand but it does make barista quality cappuccino. The food processor gets used most every day. The only other electrical appliances are two old fashioned Crockpot slow cookers, a George Foreman oven, and a stick blender, all sourced from op shops. The slow cookers get used a lot. On any sunny day with electricity to spare, there will be stock or beans or chick peas or a rooster in one or both of them. I could probably do with just one but I can’t decide which I like better. I bake my sourdough and just about everything else in the electric oven these days.
So that’s my kitchen. Odd or radical?