Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to Organize Your Kitchen Pt.1

Okay, you probably do most of your cooking in your kitchen, so first off, let's take a look at your workspace. No, really. Take a look at your kitchen, and how it is organized, or not organized. If you have dirty dishes, pots and pans, silverware, knives and so on, clean them up and put them away. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now you have everything cleaned up, everything in its place, and your kitchen is as good as it gets? Good. Now tell me what you see. Plenty of counter space? Everything you might need for a certain task within reach of the place you will be performing that task? No? Well, don't despair, you are certainly not alone.

In order to cook well, you need plenty of room in which to do it. if you have ever looked at a recipe and thought "I don't even have room to make that," you were no doubt correct, but you could have plenty of room if you got a few things off your counters that don't really need to be there.

Now, lets take a good look at the above pics. Believe it or not, they are not intended as a before and after. The second pic is a good deal more tidy, but there is still way too much stuff on the counters, and stuff that gets used all the time is nowhere to be seen. I know, the second kitchen looks pretty normal, but trust me, it is a lot easier to cook with more room, and with your tools within easy reach.

In your own kitchen, if you are like most people, you will probably see a microwave, a can opener, a coffee maker, a toaster, a toaster oven, a knife block, a coffee grinder, perhaps a stand mixer, a food processor.... And if you don't have a dishwasher, you probably have a dish drainer that lives on the counter right next to the sink. Most of us have a lot of stuff on our counter-tops, and a good deal of that stuff doesn't really need to be there.

The tendency, however, is to use our counter-tops as displays for all the cool appliances we own. This is only natural; we paid good money for these things, and we want people to see that we own them, can afford them, and even perhaps to assume we actually use them. However, keeping these things on the counters just for display can be a real hindrance when, for instance, we are cooking a holiday meal, and we suddenly realize there is nowhere to put the turkey we've just pulled out of the oven.

So, take a good look at the stuff sitting on your counters. How often do you use them, really? Okay, most people use their microwaves daily, or close to it, so that one probably has an excuse for sitting there. The same probably goes for the toaster, and the coffee maker. But how about the toaster oven, the stand mixer, the crock pot, and the food processor? Once a week? Once every two weeks? Once every several months? Well, then these need to be put on a shelf somewhere, and only dragged out when needed. How about that dish rack? Is there room for it under the sink? Beside the sink is often a much better place for a cutting board, at least if your sink is equipped with a garbage disposal. And even if it isn't, the sink is still a handy and easily cleaned place to put your scrap bowl.

Okay, the stand mixer may be hard to move, because it is heavy. However, if you use it at all, you're probably not cooking just for yourself. So even if you are 5'2” and 98 pounds, and the stand mixer weighs about half as much as you do, chances are you can find someone to help you move it when you need to. Like, perhaps, a teen-aged boy who wants the cinnamon rolls you'll use it to make, if only he gets it out for you.

In my kitchen, if it gets used daily, or nearly so, it stays on the counter. If it gets used weekly, it might warrant a place on the counter, if it is hard to put away. If it gets used less that once a week, it gets put away, no matter what.

Okay, I can already hear you saying “But, the only place I have to put these things is on the counter!” We'll get to that in the next post.

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