The new normal in the kitchen

3 November 2010
As you probably know, Hanno arrived home from Germany with a cold, and, of course, I've got it now. I was going to report on the organisation of my work room today but my head is fuzzy, and the new camera still confuses me, so I'll carry on with the new normal posts. This time we're in the kitchen.

When we moved here 13 years ago:
  • We removed the old kitchen and put in one that was better for working in.
  • Installed a range hood to take stale air from the kitchen into the roof space where the whirlybirds we installed would remove it and all hot air from the roof space.
  • Installed a sink top water purifier so we could drink filtered water and fill our stainless steel bottles to take when we went out.
  • Removed the carpet from all areas except the bedrooms.
  • Skylight installed in the kitchen roof to avoid electric light being used on overcast days.

In the following years we:
  • Completely reorganised the kitchen to support the work being done there. Tea, coffee and tea kettle were placed near the tea and coffee cup cupboard, baking supplies were all in one space to make bread baking as easy as possible, a pantry and separate stockpile cupboard were established.
  • The dishwasher was removed and given away. I'm washing up by hand now and prefer it to having to use the harsh caustic chemicals used in dishwashers which eventually flow into our waterways. I now store recycled and canning jars in the space that used to hold the dishwasher.
  • Bought a Coolgardie safe to hold food that doesn't need to be refrigerated but is safely away from flies and other insects.
  • Cook several things at the same time in the oven. For instance, cooking a roast in the oven, you also cook the vegetables in the pan around the meat and in the last 15 minutes, add your greens in an oven-proof dish with a foil lid. Or cakes or biscuits baking at the same time bread is in the oven.
  • Wash vegetables in bowls, not under running water.
  • Use vegetable and fruit peelings and scraps in the compost or worm bin.
  • Gave away our Teflon cookware and use only stainless steel and cast iron now.
  • Fell in love with slow cooking and now cook from scratch exclusively.
  • Taught myself to develop flavour in cooked food with various cooking methods, spices and herbs instead of adding soup or packets of flavourings.
  • Make stocks.
  • Bake bread almost everyday.
  • Taught myself ways to combine garden produce with stockpile items to produce delicious meals.
  • Make yoghurt and fresh cheese.
  • Buy local unhomogenised jersey milk and skim the cream to make butter.
  • Make ice cream.
  • Clean using home-made cleaners.
  • Make and use knitted cotton dishcloths.
  • Make ginger beer and fruit cordials.
  • Make jams, sauces and chutneys and preserve them.
  • Realised the difference between quantity and quality.
  • Make sure we eat food in season and grown as close to home as possible.
  • Loose tea instead of tea bags.
  • Went from being vegetarian to a meat eater and got to know my butcher.
This list could be longer but I'll finish with this instead. Being as sustainable as we can be isn't easy or quick. It makes us slow down and be mindful of what we're doing. It makes us more selective and if there is a choice between local strawberries at $4 and strawberries from interstate at $3, we choose the local ones. We aren't perfect. We slip back and have to recover again, we want to be better at this than we are. But this is our lifelong journey now - it's always changing and we're always trying to do our best. There are two things I know I'll never buy again, one is bottled water, the other coffee in a takeaway cup. I see people walking along with coffee and plastic water bottles in there hands and it makes me cringe. All that waste is not sustainable. We have turned our backs on all things disposable, we've returned to china cups, setting the table, sitting down and eating with knives and forks. It's a beautiful thing to do and it beats coffee in a cardboard cup anytime.