27 April, 2009

In The Zone

This past week was the second one in the Kitchn's Kitchen Cure.  Our task this week was to organize kitchen equipment.  A rather large task in most cooks' kitchens.  For me that meant two drawers of utensils, a drawer with pots and lids, a plastic storage container drawer, my baking supplies spread round the kitchen, and one random corner cupboard filled with extra spices, a colander, our turkey frier pieces, and a bunch of other crap.

The first step was to pitch any and all duplicates.  After that I got rid of supplies I never use, like the old cookie sheets and pots that were broken or had no matching lid.  These went into the pile for Goodwill.

My second step was to take anything out of the kitchen that isn't used on a regular basis - springform pans, lobster eating utensils, and the aforementioned turkey frier accoutrements.  These all went to the cold storage section of the basement.  That has to be another organizational task before we frame the basement, but not for now.

After the purge and the subsequent clean it came time to reorganize things.  With PBS Kids on for The Monster and The Smilosaurus napping I took a step back to evaluate how I really use the kitchen.  Truly, I have zones that I work in: baking/prep, clean-up, stove, and serving.  Sure, the kitchen isn't designed this way and it takes some creative thinking, but my brain thinks it works.

The stove section includes the pots, cooking utensils, all our oils and spices on open shelves.   Clean-up includes the sink and recently installed dishwasher, with dish storage right above. The serving section is the countertop below the dish and pantry storage.  And by serving section I mean a space of uncluttered countertop closest to the table.

Finally, I created a baking station.  We bought some freestanding cabinetry a few months back. Smilosaurus started crawling and was getting into everything on our open storage units.  When the dishwasher went in we also lost some existing cabinetry.  These new units were great - large, sturdy, and full of storage potential.  But I just dumped stuff in them without really thinking about it.  This exercise forced me to take a step back and think about how to use them most effectively.  

It's no secret that I love to bake, as does The Monster.  So I took one unit, filled it with all the baking utensils and pantry ingredients, and parked the little chair she stands on next to it.  Now everything is in one spot.  We have a large countertop space, only interrupted with the knife block, cutting board, and the Kitchen Aid.  It is still my prep station, after all.  But we can mix, roll, cut, and generally making a mess and it all stays confined.  Hubby can be at the sink, Smilosaurus can crawl around, and none of us are falling on top of each other.

One of the changes I made was taking my baking pans from the tall cabinet by the sink.  It always made sense to have them there, standing up.  There was, however, this stupid hook thing hanging from under the counter.  Pans were constantly getting caught on it.  Yes, I could have taken it out, but that wasn't the only problem with the cupboard.  There was just too much stuff it and it wasn't easy for The Monster to get things from there.  Considering that our baking generally revolves around cookies and muffins, I needed a better option.

With the focused baking center I got that.  I took one drawer and put in all the well-used baking supplies.  And yes, the largest item - the cookie sheets are on top.  Who wants to pull out all the pie plates, measuring cups, loaf pans, and spoons to get to the cookies sheets?  So much easier now.  Of course, after all this I need to giving Hubby an orientation.

Well, PBS Kids is nearly over and its time to bake.  I think we are going to try oatmeal cookies with cranberries and the white chocolate chips I found while cleaning.

1 comment:

cheryl said...

Wow, you're speaking directly to me here, aren't you? My utensil holders are always toppling over because I have crap in there I never use. Do I really need the avocado pitter I got in my stocking in 1998? Do I need the old plastic turkey baster that's melted from too-hot gravy? No, and no. You've inspired me to organize and purge. Thank you, Backseat Gourmet!