What’s Essential?

Eight years ago, I left my friends and family and all that was familiar to me .My life had become a Jerry Springer episode, so I fled. For my kids’ and my sanity, I chose a place that was green and quiet – a place that felt safe. What I wanted was my own little peaceful pocket where I could lick my wounds and create a life for myself and my kids that was chaos and drama free. I needed a good high school, a good place to keep our horse and a place that didn’t have a woman alone looking over her shoulder with worry. I found it and we settled in. I drove down winding roads, with lush green paddocks on either side.  Horses of every size and color grazed, whinnied, scampered and scuffled, the green bordered by miles of black three board with the occasional field of cows and corn.  The sun setting over a barn was like a soothing balm and slowly, all the ugliness began to fade away. I didn’t care if I ever met anyone; in fact, it was my plan not to. I built a wall around my heart, knowing that if I remained alone, I would never have to feel any of that unbearable pain again.

The years passed and the alone thing has gotten old! My girls are grown and gone. They come and go when they can and the horse is gone now too. The quiet here has become deafening. I look around the home I made here and it is calm and safe, but it has served its purpose and I’m beginning to think it’s time.

Each stage of our lives has a unique set of requirements. When I was raising my kids, we had a large house with a big yard and deck, perfect for family gatherings, hide and seek, sleepovers and some very memorable parties. The generous sized kitchen easily accommodated my love for all things cooking and entertaining. The counters full of baskets of produce I harvested from my garden were where the multi course feasts for every holiday began.

Then the girls and I downsized, moving to our version of Mayberry. Our horse, the school and my business were just down the road and we settled into a new normal that was just what the doctor ordered. The house and my kitchen were smaller, but I had a second kitchen to play in a few blocks away at my gourmet shop. My love affair with cooking tools and gadgetry flourished. Panini presses, crepe burners, large catering platters, cupcake pans and more were used and enjoyed regularly.

Now, however, all the reasons to be here in Mayberry are gone and it’s time to make a new choice that doesn’t need to take into account anyone but me. I’m feeling more and more that a little place in or near the city is where I need to be for this next chapter of my life. I’ll walk out my front door and there will be people – people to meet by chance, people to explore new restaurants with, people to stroll street fairs and museums with. The thought of it is so exciting but I know that whatever living space I find is sure to be tiny so it’s time to pare WAYYYYYY down!

I’ve scheduled a yard sale and am now going through the house with a selective eye. The pile of items to sell in the basement is steadily growing, but the most challenging room remains . . . . .the kitchen.

So what do you REALLY need? What are the essentials and what is just excess? Get rid of the rice maker and use one of your multi use pots. Rice is not so difficult to make that it requires it’s own space stealing appliance. The same goes for hard boiled eggs. You can use the same pot! With a couple of basic tools, you can create wonderful feasts.

So here’s my list of essentials:

  • A set of really good knives
  • Cutting boards – plastic for poultry, meat and fish and a wooden one for everything else
  • 2 sauce pans – small, medium
  • 1 large pot for lobster
  • Dutch oven
  • 9 x 12 baking pan,
  • 9 x 9 pan
  • Loaf pan
  • Round cake pans (2)
  • Spring form pan – yes, cheesecake is essential
  • A cast iron skillet
  • 1 small and 1 large frying pan
  • Crock-pot
  • Toaster oven
  • Food processor or blender with multiple speeds and settings (like the Ninja)
  • 2 large cookie sheets
  • Strainer
  • Nesting mixing bowls – small, medium and large
  • Can opener
  • Corkscrew/beer opener – duh!
  • 2 Spatulas – one slotted and one regular
  • 2 large spoons – one slotted and one regular
  • 2 whisks – small and balloon
  • Tongs – small and large
  • Flour sifter
  • Stand mixer – I refuse to give up my KithcenAid EVER

I don’t really need two crepe burners, but maybe I could find room for just one? I’m being ridiculous, I know.

Everyone’s must-haves will differ according to cooking styles and personal taste, but this is, at least, a basic list.

My kitchen essentials will also include a source of good music, a dog to assist with cleanup when I inevitably drop food and hopefully someday, someone to sit in the other chair across the table from me in my little kitchen, drink coffee, eat a crepe and hold my hand.


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