Less is More
One key to cooking in a minimalist way is to make the most of every ingredient. Take citrus fruit, for instance. The zest and oil are powerful flavoring agents. Peels can be candied, segments tossed in a salad. The juice can be used to cure raw fish for seviche and can flavor everything from sauces to salad dressings. Corn is equally versatile. Husks can be used as a wrapping for tamales or seafood. Cobs can be roasted, then simmered to make a rich broth, or they can be added to hot coals to give grilled meats a smoky, popcorn-like flavor. Corn silk can be steeped to make a fragrant tea. As for pumpkins, you can scoop out the flesh for custards, soups and stews, then use the shell as a container. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack, and when they're ground, they're an essential ingredient in Mexican moles.
The kitchen towel must be the ultimate minimalist kitchen tool. It's a pot holder. Line a colander with it and you've got a filter. Suzanne Tracht of Jar in Los Angeles calls hers "a security blanket." She uses it to wring the water out of blanched spinach, to remove the skins of toasted hazelnuts and to cool herself off when the kitchen's too hot (she soaks it in ice water and drapes it around her neck). Rick Tramonto of Tru in Chicago places a folded kitchen towel under his cutting board to keep it from slipping; Jody Adams at Rialto in Boston uses hers to skin roasted beets.
Small lifestyle changes can mean big results over time. For instance, walking just 30 minutes five times a week burns about 30,000 calories a year. By replacing the usual 8-ounce cup of whole milk in your morning cereal with 2-percent milk, you avoid 1,300 grams of fat and 9,800 calories a year. Substituting skim milk for the 2-percent saves an additional 1,500 grams of fat and 11,900 calories. If you use 1 tablespoon of olive oil every day instead of butter, you'll sidestep 2,000 grams of saturated fat a year.
Diptyque's Hair and Body Washes come in a dozen fragrances, including basil-cedar-scented Virgilio and other formulations based on the company's famous scented candles ($26 for 6.8 ounces at Barneys New York; 888-8BARNEYS).
Jing Jang Crème smoothes chapped lips, softens cuticles and soothes sunburned skin ($22 for 1 ounce; 888-458-3520).
Michael Kors Sheer Highlights perfumed powder can be brushed on brows, cheeks and shoulders for a shimmery glow ($35 for 0.23 ounces at Bloomingdale's; 800-555-SHOP).
Clinique Pore Minimizer Instant Perfector is a tinted moisturizer that camouflages pores and leaves a matte finish ($17 for 0.5 ounces; 800-419-4041).
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer blends well when used as a foundation, yet is rich enough to double as a concealer ($42 for 0.63 ounces at Henri Bendel; 800-HBENDEL).
Vincent Longo Gel Crayon gives cheeks and lips a pop of sheer, bright color ($18; 877-LONGO-99).