Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A functional kitchen is more fun

I would have liked to post a Saturday foodblog last week, but I realized to my dismay that I hadn’t cooked a thing all week. I have been in a bit of a funk lately, but that’s really rather sad. This realization, coupled with finally facing exactly how much my two-person household spends on food, made me realize something: I had a completely nonfunctional kitchen. It’s a fun kitchen, but only when I have the energy to devote to actually putting a meal together. We have no dishwasher and little counter space. Generally, our refrigerator is packed with soon-moldering leftovers that we are fooling ourselves into believing will be eaten. If we set out to cook a meal, we have to muster the energy to a) do the dishes that have been accumulating since we last bothered b) head to the grocery store to get 90-100% of the ingredients needed for the meal and c) actually prepare a meal. Looking at it that way, you might understand how often we’ll step out for dinner or lunch or breakfast.

I like to look at self-improvement on a curved scale, however, and realized that maybe it’s not that I’m too lazy to cook, but that the system I’ve set up just doesn’t work and needs to be fixed. Working this over in my mind stimulated the expression of my latent engineer genes (that I inherited from my Dad), so I sat down at excel and made a spreadsheet of pantry and staple items I should keep in my kitchen at all times (to be periodically compared with the contents of my kitchen and replaced). I stocked my pantry and organized it by function. I went home and cleared out my fridge, cleaned out my cupboards, and reorganized my dish storage. I got neat little containers for my bulk food items and cleaning supplies and all the other things I usually put off buying. I did every dish I could find, and vowed to at least keep clean essentials around like silverware, knives and cutting boards, so that at any time I could walk into the kitchen and make something.

This was last Wednesday, and I’ve pretty much been cooking nonstop ever since. We’ll see how long I can keep it up, but so far the cleanup trick has worked like a charm. This all might seem pretty obvious, but it took me a good four and a half years of apartment living for this idea to come together for me. If I can keep this up, I expect to eat much better and much cheaper. My question for anyone reading this is what are the things that you do to keep your kitchen easier to use? What essentials did I miss on my pantry list? Am I crazy to think that I can keep this up?

And just to inspire myself to keep with the program, I’m going to share that last night’s dessert was strawberries macerated with champagne, over homemade shortcake, and of course with whipped cream. Pretty good for a Tuesday night.

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