Recipe Tips for Tiny Kitchen Cooking

Katie Butterfield recently graduated from UC Merced with a degree in political science. While finishing her degree, she discovered her passion for sustainability. She also loves food! These two passions led her to create her own blog about the food movement. Her goal is to educate people about the problems in our current food system and give examples of how to make it more sustainable- check out her awesome recipe tips! 

I learned to cook in a large kitchen with ample counter space, multiple ovens, and perhaps the largest, fully stocked pantry you've ever seen.  When I went to college, this changed dramatically.  First I lived in the dorms, then in a house with six people sharing a kitchen.  Now my husband and I live in an apartment with a limited kitchen. 

We have found that the best way to make cooking dinner easy is to perfect the base meal that we cook. By base meal I mean that one dish that we make whenever we just can't think of anything else to cook.  Changing our base meal to fresh vegetables and rice was not only beneficial for the size of our kitchen, it was also a step toward eating more sustainably.  We found that it is simple and quick to make and turns out a little different every time because we use different vegetables and sauces.

 Rice and Veggies:

  • Cook some rice (we use about ½ Cup of dry rice per person).  Follow the directions that came with your rice to make sure that it cooks properly.  Different types of rice have different cooking times. We use a rice cooker because we make this meal so often. 
  • Next chop up your vegetables and sauté them in a pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt.

  •  Serve vegetables over rice with salt, soy sauce, or other sauce. 

Often we eat this with cheese sauce.  Changing the sauce is another way to make this simple meal different every time.  My husband and I both love peanut butter, so we have created a peanut butter cheese sauce.  If you'd like to get creative with this meal and you like peanut butter, here is the recipe. 

Peanut Butter Cheese Sauce:

1/2 Cup peanut butter

1/2 Cup warm water

pinch of salt

hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 Tbl. Honey (optional)

3 thick slices of cheese (we like cheddar best), cut into small cubes

  • In a bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, water, salt, hot sauce, and honey.

  • Once fully combined, the mixture should be smooth.  Transfer to a small pot and place on medium high heat on the stovetop.  Once the mixture is simmering, mix in the cheese, stirring constantly. 

  • When all of the cheese is melted, pour this sauce over your rice and veggies and enjoy!

I don't know too many people who have been brave enough to try this, so if you are one of them, don't worry! You can make this with out the cheese and have a nice Asian-style peanut sauce.  Or make your own wacky sauce, or normal sauce if you prefer.  It is important that you cook food that you like the taste of so that you want to keep cooking- no reason living in a tiny house should make this difficult! Get creative and find something that you love! 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 22, 2013

Filed under: cooking   diy   food   guest blogger   recipes   sustainability   tiny kitchen   tips  

Tips for Inviting Personality Into Your Home's Interior Design

Our home is our sanctuary for rest and pleasure, and its design is most likely a reflection of our lifestyle and personality. If the look of your home hasn't changed for decades, you may be stuck in a rut. Do you play it safe with neutral colors and low-key decor? Perhaps you're the type of person who prefers to stay within a comfort zone. Invite excitement and unpredictability into your life by starting with some home improvements and design updates. Similar to our wardrobe and hobbies, updating our home can have a positive effect on our mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Take risks and stay fresh by adopting any of the following interior-design ideas:

Eye-Catching Color

Transforming the energy of your home doesn't have to be an expensive renovation project, and your walls don't have to be the only source of bright and stylish color. Accent a subdued wall with bold and colorful accents. Grommet curtains in colors jonquil, azalea or currant add character to white or beige walls. You can also play up your drapery with fun patterns and prints. Home decor store Z Gallerie offers Venetian Blue and Citrus Grey panels in a variety of geometric shapes that create a contemporary appearance. Minor room accents in bold hues can also instantly and easily give a home personality. Pair couches, sofas and sitting chairs with throw pillows in an orange geometric pattern or grey, orange and turquoise contemporary print available on Etsy.com.

Opposites Attract

Unexpected design choices and pairings can create an interior space that's anything but ordinary. Live life outside the rules and make life more interesting by marrying two unlikely design elements into a contrasting, yet stunning interior-design theme. Envision a modernistic style with retro accents. Pair antique furnishings with luxury furniture. Imagine an elegant design theme decorated with DIY crafts.

MiamiHerald.com recommends the design advice of Emily Chalmers, author of "Contemporary Country" and "Modern Vintage Style." In "Modern Vintage Style," Chalmers is an advocate of mixing old and new elements as well as looking for opportunities to "restore, reinvent and rescue."

As you juxtapose design contrasts, strive for balance. Chalmers suggests using artifacts and old-fashion pieces in conjunction with more modern and refined elements. Light fixtures and textiles are excellent options for adding dimension to the design of a room. From mid-century modern floor lamps and Victorian wall sconces to Oriental floor rugs and elaborate tablecloths, a wide variety of lighting and textile options can serve as excellent contrasting design accessories.

Natural Instincts

Home remodeling and design platform Houzz.com suggests designing your home by following your heart and speaking to your soul. Most importantly, don't be afraid to execute a design theme or decorative idea because it's too outrageous or eccentric. Design theme rooms to reflect your interests and passions. Are you a sentimental person? Create a nostalgic room adorned with family photos, achievements and heirlooms. Do you enjoy the tranquility of being at the beach? Transform a special space into a beachy nook with picturesque outdoor wall art and sea-inspired ornaments. With a little introspection, you can explore your inner creativity and then approach your interior space as a blank canvas for personal, aesthetic self-expression.

Written by Guest Blogger — January 18, 2013

Filed under: design   guest blogger   Houses   tips  

Be our Guest! (Blogger)

Are you a writer with a love of tiny houses? Are you a tiny house enthusiast with a passion for writing? Are you just really smart and looking to share your brilliance with the world?

We've had some awesome guest blog posts recently, like Sicily's or Kendra's. We love having different voices on our blog, and we want to bring in more guest posters. We're especially looking for people with specific expertise. Are you a solar power buff? A plumbing genius? An interior design guru? Share your knowledge! 

Be our guest! 

If you think you have an interesting topic for a blog post that you'd love to share with Tumbleweed, please check out our Guest Blogger posting on the Job Board

We're looking to add regular guest bloggers to our Tumbleweed team, so if we love what you've got, we'll be in touch about future opportunities. 

Good luck, and happy blogging! 

Written by Nara Williams — December 17, 2012

Filed under: blog   education   guest blogger   write for us  

Writer, Builder, Preteen: Sicily and her "Petite Maison"

Sicily Kolbeck is 12 years old. She builds houses and plays travel softball south of the Mason-Dixon line. She is currently documenting her tiny house project, the Petite Maison. She hopes to live in her tiny house full-time when it is completed, and maybe even take it to college in Washington State (go, Huskies!). 

Why do people live tiny? Is it to simplify, or is it an economic decision? Whatever the reason, people have been downsizing their lives for many years. By simplifying their lives they have found inner happiness rather than external happiness in the form of the materialistic ideals. 

My decision to build a tiny house was partly economic, partly the desire to be free. Freedom is one of the main reasons I decided to build my tiny house. Everyone at some point in their life wishes to have freedom; my wish started at an early age, and it began with a simple desire to build a fort.

As long as I can remember I have loved tiny spaces. When I was younger my family and I lived in a house that had the most perfect spot for forts: a built-in seating area that was about 2 ½ feet tall; I would take three of my dad’s longest golf clubs, two chairs, blankets, and pillows and make a fort. I would watch movies in there, play games, and play with (or torture) my cat. It was just the right space for me; I never needed anything more. I loved the coziness of it, the fact that I could see all of my things, and that it was all mine. No one could take it away and no one but me was in charge of it. And it cost nothing!

Cut-out side for Sicily's bird house prototype  

Building forts was just the tip of the iceberg of frugality and simple living. I learned about money and sensibility at a young age. When I was five my mom and dad decided to give me an allowance. Those four quarters were dear to me every time I got them. My family thought I should learn to budget my money (plus they were tired of me asking for everything), and budget I did. If I wanted something I took hours to decide to buy it; many times I would walk away from a purchase because I thought, “Am I really going to use this?” At five! 

I learned to budget my money so well that my parents called me “The Bank of Sicily” because I would loan them money; when I started to joke that I would have to start charging interest, my customer satisfaction rate plummeted. This is just one form of my freedom that I talked about. I am very lucky that my parents trust me enough to give me freedom: financial. Having my own budget raises awareness about what I am buying and bringing into my life.

When I finally got my customers back with the promise of free hugs and kisses with every transaction I decided to tell them my idea for building a tiny house. My parents were accepting and willing to give me the support I needed; after I decided to take on this task, I told everyone. Trust me, when I say, “I told everyone,” I mean everyone. If someone was walking past me in the street I would tap them on the shoulder and say, “I’m building a house!” That was how excited I was. 

However, when I told my softball team I got less-than-enthusiastic replies: “Why?” “Oh, cool,” and my personal favorite, “Why don’t you just buy one from Home Depot?” I want to build one that can move and one that is my own. I was first introduced to tiny houses by Deek Diedricksen; his videos showed me that I could build a house with next to no money and still have it be comfortable and inviting and my own.

My biggest supporters have been my mom and dad. My mom is the teacher/principal/founder of HoneyFern.  She is the one that has encouraged me to do this as a school project; she has been my impromptu publicist; she has supported me on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media site that she can think of.  

My dad has taught me how to use the tools - such as a jigsaw, a table saw, nail gun, and belt sander - that I will need to build my house. To learn how to use the tools, I have already built a vegetable oil heater and a tiny teardrop trailer birdhouse, and now I am working on a composting toilet. I am so grateful for all of my supporters on and offline.

(For more information on supporting Sicily, please visit her website.)

Freedom to me means I can support myself in a sustainable way. Building a tiny house can give me stability, possibly for the rest of my life if I build the house well. Building a house would give me the life skills that really matter, such as using tools for construction. Building the house I can know what labors go into a home and truly appreciate what I am living in. 

Written by Guest Blogger — December 13, 2012

Filed under: Build it yourself   education   guest blogger   student builds   young builder  
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