We live in confusing times where excess is a marker of success—bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger closets, more possessions. Then there are lifestyle and spiritual gurus, at the other end of the spectrum, who preach that a life of simplicity is the way to true enlightenment. The latter is probably more realistic, but one shouldn’t look to me for advice in minimalism. I have around 3,000 cookbooks and an embarrassment of riches in the form of kitchen equipment and cookware. I seesaw between thoughts of paring down my belongings to buying the next great cookbook or trending kitchen gadget. It is with envy that I look upon super organized, streamlined kitchens and it is with love that I look at my overstuffed bookcases.
Enter Melissa Coleman—creator of the popular blog, The Faux Martha. She has written a cookbook/guide entitled The Minimalist Kitchen. Her mission: to assist us in paring down our tools and ingredients while building a streamlined pantry and utilizing efficient cooking techniques so that dinnertime feels doable again. As I begin to read the author’s thoughts on minimalism, the inner hoarder in me wants to block out her advice, but even I have to admit it makes a lot of sense. So I ask myself, How do we stop overbuying and where do we begin? Coleman’s response, “You intentionally choose to live with less.” I’m attracted by this bait but steering away from her hook . . . I continue on to see if she can reel me in.
As I gaze upon the photographs of her pristine, perfectly organized pantry, I start buying into what she is selling. But darn it, out of nowhere, I stumble upon a photo of her cookbooks, so “naturally,” I scan the shelf to see if I am missing any. (Baby steps, I will take baby steps.) I appreciate her thoughtful suggestions on building a minimalist pantry and slowly begin to accept the fact that no one needs thirty sheet pans and fifty pounds of flour unless they are running a wholesale bakery from their basement. (The devil hoarder on my shoulder whispers, “But you might one day.”)
After soaking in her simple advice, I arrive at the recipes which are perfectly detailed and organized from breakfast to desserts. A seasonal produce guide and metric equivalents are also included. Many of her recipes are quick, easy, wholesome and require a hands-on time of under 30 minutes. The Takeout Cashew Chicken was fabulous as were the Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki. The more hours I work, the more I look for faster ways to get weeknight dinner on the table and The Minimalist Kitchen is a wonderful resource for those types of recipes.
Will I start paring down tomorrow? Probably not. However, the author’s voice will playback when my family moves this summer—I will embrace a modified minimalist approach to stocking my kitchen and reducing the excess. Having space to work helps clear your mind and being organized makes you feel like you are on top of things, in the workforce and at home—and especially in the kitchen. If I could add up all the hours, I’ve spent looking for an ingredient or a piece of cookware, it would be an embarrassing amount of time wasted.
Pick up Melissa’s book, even if you are anti-minimalism, the recipes are delicious, fast and fun. Start cooking now with her Garlicky Potato Wedges recipe.
Garlicky Potato Wedges
Hands-on: 10 min. ♦ Total: 45 min. ♦ Yields: 6 to 8 servings
I debated on whether this potato recipe should be in mashed or wedged form. Wedges require less work and fewer dishes. For that reason, they get made far more often than the mashed variety. I lived a couple years of life without fries, and it was just plain boring. Now, I order fries out when the craving hits and make this baked variety when the evening calls for it. For even coating, dirty up a bowl and toss together. Whatever you do, don’t skip the Parm.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 pounds russet potatoes (6 to 8 potatoes)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped Parmesan
Make the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out an unlined baking sheet. Combine the oil and garlic in a large bowl. Set aside. Scrub the potatoes and pat dry. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into 4 (1-inch-thick) wedges. Add the wedges to the oil mixture, and toss to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle with the salt and toss once more. Place the wedges in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and cook for 15 minutes more.
Garnish the potatoes with the parsley (for color), if desired, and the Parmesan (for flavor). Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Serve with ketchup, if desired.
Recipe from The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman © Melissa Coleman, 2018. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Oxmoor House, a division of Time Inc. Books.
Photo Credit: Alison Miksch