How many times have I thought to myself, “If I only had the time…” Well think no longer. Now is the time to do. The kitchen is my home in our home. It is the place I feel most connected, the place I feel most welcomed, the place I feel most myself. Because I spend as much time as possible in the kitchen, one might think that it is the most organized, most efficient, and most up to date locale in the house. One might think… and one might be wrong.
I would love to blame this on the fact that I have moved four times in the past two years, including across the Atlantic, however that would not be fair. When I move, I try to declutter. Try being the operative word. Clutter just happens to find me. I have a very hard time parting with objects of my affection, most of which are kitchen related. Add in the amount of times I have moved, it is safe to say that my kitchen is incomplete and inefficient. If I only had time to fix this. Oh wait, I am under house arrest. Voilà, time.
This has led me to start thinking about kitchen related projects that I have always wanted to focus on, but haven’t had, or taken, the time to explore. Allow me to share with you a few suggestions on what to do with your new found time, in your kitchen.
1. Replenish your dehydrated
I never knew herbs or spices had expiration dates. My “go tos” such as red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cinnamon are always used in a timely manner, thus I never paid attention to the date. However, herbs and spices do in fact expire. It is not that they will grow mold or entice flies, but they will not operate at full potential as they should. Their flavor will become dull, as will their aroma. Our taste buds deserve bold, solid, sincere flavor. Out with the old, in with the new.
2. Investigate inventory
15 cans of black beans. Hmm. Why? They are positioned next to 2 canisters of rolled oats. I don’t even eat oatmeal, yet I own plenty. Time to be honest with yourself and the members of your household. What are the items you regularly use? You should have 15 cans of that! Think about looking through your cupboard and refrigerator BEFORE shopping. This is the perfect time to create new habits. If you have a surplus of one item, what can you make now with it that you could potentially freeze to eat later? Black bean soup is on my agenda. Believe me!
3. Dust off cookbooks
I love my cookbooks. To me, they are a heavenly haven. Their pictures lull me into a world full of hope and flavor, especially on a dreary day. These days come more often now. I pulled out my Silver Spoon cookbook on Easter to deter my brain from the self pity party that was ensuing due to the fact that I was not with my family. It worked. For a bit. Remind yourself of the reason you bought each cookbook; what haven’t you cooked in a while? Have you actually read the foreword? Much like fairy tales and allegories, cookbooks teach us about ourselves and life. They give us the opportunity to grow through success and failure. Even if simply looking at the pictures and allowing yourself to dream, give them some love.
4. Cleaning part one: the fridge
I know, I know, not fun. But remember when you first opened your brand new refrigerator and saw it as a blank canvas, full of possibility? Now it’s just a reason for your housemate to freak out when the cup of water you were using to save the last few celery stalks jumps out and soaks him. Pandemic pandemonium. Take everything out. Give it a good, solid wipe down, and reorganize. Bring back that feeling of hope you held upon first look into this appliance.
5. Cleaning part two: the stove
Hopefully you have the self clean button? If not, give it some blood, sweat, and tears. Your manicure is put on hold anyways. Have at it! There is nothing worse (relatively speaking) when baking a delicious creation but the pervasive aroma of burnt food overtakes the house. Allow your turkey’s aroma to permeate every corner of your habitat. Allow the scent of chocolate chip cookies waft freely from stove to nasal passages. All our senses are on overdrive now, your nose deserves to smell the smells it desires.
6. Efficacy analysis
Why is my silverware drawer so far away? Why do I have one cabinet devoted to nuts? That’s nuts! The rationale of the “where” in my kitchen is lacking. We have had many conversations regarding the improvement of the “where” situation, but that is where it has stopped. No more! Questions to ask…What makes the most sense? What do you use the most often? How can I best arrange what is needed based on appliance and utility? Find the “where” and go!
7. Refuse rummaging
We want the junk… Gotta have the junk. The junk drawer… why do we all have junk drawers in our kitchen? Is it nature or nurture? Either way, I firmly believe it is a necessary evil. However, there is junk and then there is JUNK. I hate when I can’t find the junk I want to find because of the excess of junk I don’t want. Now is the time to downsize the junk.
8. Rogue recipe round up
Where did I put that chicken recipe I printed yesterday? Last week? Last year? There are certain recipes at certain times of the year we use, where are those when you need them? What makes the most sense for your cooking strategies? Creating folders with recipes you have printed, or recorded, based on type of meal, holiday, or most utilized can be extremely helpful. I have taken to Pinterest much more regularly now and have created boards where I organize certain recipes. There is the option to take notes on the recipe which I use for the many modifications I make. Very helpful and reduces the amount of printing.
9. Wine bottle craft session
To be completely honest, there is no shortage of empty wine or beer bottles in my house right now. Hello DIY. First things first, they need a good scrub and sanitizing bath, but aren’t we all already doing that continually right now? Great timing. I love using old wine bottles to store oils and vinegars. I just started growing herbs and have seen ways to recycle these bottles to create indoor herb gardens. Maybe I will investigate mosaics? The possibilities are endless, unlike my wine supply.
10. Overcome the oppressor
That one intimidating recipe you have always wanted to try… Why not right now? The day to day is not wonderful right now; can a failed attempt at a recipe really make it worse? Nah. If anything it could be a funny story to share. But what if you make a masterpiece and find unexpected success… well, think of that much needed joy. Go for it!
We have time… for how long? Who knows? Although we do not have much in our control, how we choose to utilize this time at home is in our hands. These are not easy: building new habits, trying new things, looking inward and asking tough questions. But the kitchen is the heart of the house. When the heart beats best, love flows more freely.