Monday, June 12, 2017

The Intentional Kitchen.

The assignment for this week (#6): declutter the kitchen cabinets, drawers, closets, and countertops.

This is a doozy of a post. You may want to get a coffee (or something).

I've been looking forward to this week. I've been itching to weed out a few things for the past couple of months. I did a great job of decluttering and reorganizing just before Christmas, but I'd noticed recently that the kitchen had become almost completely unmanageable. I joke that I can get dinner in 2 square inches of space, but when you do that night after night after night, it isn't funny any more.

As well, when the kitchen is messy, the whole house feels bad. And then I feel bad, and hopeless and angry. And, really, who wants that?

When I started this course, about 5 weeks ago, I had a mitre saw in the kitchen.

Fortunately, I started this project a little further ahead than that! But it was still outrageous.

Looking towards the back door:

The Stove Wall:


cart to the left of the stove:
cabinet above the stove

the drawer in the stove:

to the right of the stove, beside the back door. 

The mess at the back door.

The mess of the table:

The cabinets and drawers:

The bank of drawers to the left of the sink:

Under the sink cabinet (we keep recyclables here):

The drawers

The "baking drawer"

The "utensils drawer"

The cabinet underneath them, to the right of the sink:

The "junk" drawer beside the fridge:

The cabinet beneath that.

The Upper Cabinets.

To the right of the sink:

Beside the Fridge:

Above the fridge:

And back around to the fridge and corner doorway.

Straight ahead, the dining room. To the right, the back hallway.

The Method

There are four of us. I decided we needed only two glasses and two mugs each. I pared down our cutlery. Our plates and bowls are already down to two or less per person, so they stayed the same.

Then, I took an evening and went through all the food cabinets and sorted and consolidated.

I had half filled jars and open bags and unopened bags--sometimes all of the same thing! I have a huge selection of mason jars--and since jars are easier to manage than floppy bags--I put all I could into them. When I could,  I labelled them simply by cutting open the bag and taping it onto the jar I wrote the expiry date on it with a fine point sharpie.

As part of our course material, Joshua Becker asked us to read an article by Mark Bittman on the essential tools and supplies one needs to outfit a kitchen in order to cook in it.

These are some of the items Bittman recommended:

  • vegetable peeler (U shape)
  • Stainless alloy chef's knife
  • bread knife
  • paring knife
  • knife sharpener--either a whetstone or "a steel" (which is what I assume I have.)
  • can opener
  • (not mentioned by Bittman, but included: the metal spatula or "turner" or "fish slice." (Thanks to the Brits in my Facebook group for that last one!)
  • slotted spoon
  • sturdy tongs
  • heat resistant rubber spatula (can replace the wooden spoon, apparently)
  • big whisk

  • plastic cutting board
  • 3 stainless steel bowls (I have 3 ceramic ones on their last legs)
  • Sturdy sheet pan
  • colander
  • 3 Pots/Saucepans: small, medium and large "cast aluminum." (I have stainless steel)
  • 2 fry pans: 1 medium (10") non-stick, 1 steep sided heavier duty steel pan (14"). I have my two cast iron pans.
  • single lid. Absurd. I have lids for all my pots and pans.
  • blender

Bittman also recommended a few things I don't have:

  • instant read thermometer
  • Japanese mandoline
  • skimmer
  • 12 cup capacity food processor
  • salad spinner
  • microplane grater
  • coffee and spice grinder

But I happen to use a lot more items for cooking, so I got out those things and put them on the table.

clockwise from left:

  • small aluminum pan with lid, perfect for boiling eggs
  • rice cooker with insert and server
  • weigh scale nd basket
  • two saucepans with lids
  • steamer
  • 1 tea ball
  • 1 tea strainer
  • cake/pie server
  • meat fork
  • thin rubber spatula ( for digging things out of long jars)
  • short rubber spatula (for digging things like honey out of measuring spoons)
  • salad tossers
  • soup ladle
  • pasta ladle
  • large spoon
  • potato masher
  • pasta measurer
  • egg slicer
  • microwave lid

  • across the bottom:
  • ice cream scoop
  • pizza cutter
  • basting brush
  • zester
  • tiny whisk (I don't use this (I prefer a fork) but my husband does.)
missing: small non-stick frying pan and non-stick plastic "turner" or flipper, and the crockpot.

As I was sorting, I realised Bittman's list did not include items for baking. So, I piled up those next:

  • two sets of stainless measuring cups
  • top half of double boiler
  • 3 ceramic bowls (same as above)
  • electric mixer
  • rolling pin
  • sheet pan (as above)
  • muffin tin
  • 12 silicone muffin cups
  • biscuit cutter (I have used a floured glass in years past)
  • whisk and beaters for mixer
  • rubber spatula (as above)
  • 2 wooden spoons (1 as above)
  • icing tip
  • basket of various stainless steel measuring spoons (not pictured: One complete set of plastic measuring spoons)
  • pastry mixer
  • two cooling racks

But then, I turned around and confronted two areas I'd completely forgotten: above the fridge and beneath the stove.

  • pedestal cake thing
  • roaster
  • angel food cake pan
  • spring bottom cheese cake pan
  • 3 bread baking pans, 1 glass, 2, metal
  • 2 glass 8x8 pans
  • 1 glass 9x13 baking/roasting pan
  • large round metal cake pan
  • 2 metal pie pans
  • 2 metal cake pans

I didn't declutter too many of these baking pans, even thoughI don't use them very often. The thing is--an angel food cake must have an angel food cake pan....a cheesecake is a million times easier with a springform pan. I have the space. Even if I only ever make one of each again before I'll be worth keeping them.

I got rid of a few items. But a lot more I took down to the basement "to see" if we can live without them for 29 days.

I wasn't sure if I'd want it again or not, so it is on these shelves in the basement in the meantime (where the homeschooling books used to be, coincidently).

This was my donation/drop off pile for this week. (I do wish I had gotten better pictures of the kitchen items I gave away, but oh well.)

yep, there's the old bathroom light in that box. And the bathroom "fish" tiles.


stove wall:

I have decanted these drink mixes into jars and I may do it again.



I removed an old tin full of sweet 'n' low...and my "everyday" serving dishes. We just don't eat "family style" anymore, but plate from the stove and go our separate ways.


to the right:

I still love that spice rack!

I really wanted JUST flowers on mt table, but there's really no where else for the fruit!

The bank of drawers to the left of the sink:

I'd like to get rid of that water filter, but I am not sure how.


Baking supplies.

I decluttered all the black plastic measuring spoons I always avoided....and a set ofplastic square measuring cups I'd had since the 90s.

The utensil drawer

The junk drawer. 

 Lower Cabinets

to the left of the sink:

the large soup pot and lid is on the stove.

the cabinet beside the fridge:

 The Uppers:
beside the sink:

the small one beside the fridge.

the larger one beside the fridge:

 above the fridge:

and back around to the fridge and the doorway.

All that stuff on the fridge is necessary. One of those pieces of paper is my 2 week menu plan. Another is my Smoothie formula...and the big pile in the middle are all the recipes we need for the week. Oh, and there are some store coupons, too.

We keep our bread in those baskets on top of the fridge.

I don't feel like I actually removed all that much from the kitchen...and yet, it feels different. It feels like its easier to keep clean--easier to prepare food. I don't know if that's because I have been keeping it clean (which mostly means I've been doing the dishes) or because there's less in it--but it feels good and I'm glad I've skimmed another layer, as it were.

But I don't think by any stretch of the imagination you can say I have a minimalist kitchen.
Nor, I think, will I ever.

But I do have a very intentional kitchen.
And, I hope I always will.

If you would like to see the kitchen as it has evolved through the years --and gotten less and less cluttered--  check out this post: A Retrospective: 6 The Kitchen, 2007-2014.


Anonymous said...

I love that you really thought about everything in your kitchen. I do the same thing periodically, and sometimes change things around. I kind of like doing it--organizing is my thing (well, sometimes). Your colour scheme is so lovely.

Two questions--would you ever put a cardboard or plastic box or whatever under your sink for your recyclables? They would all be contained and easier to transport to your blue box. Just a thought. Also, on your shelves with your dishes you have a green plate holder thing (I think, at least that's what it looks like). Is this necessary? I think visually the white plates would look nicer without. But if you need it, it's worth it, of course.

Finally, I'm sure you were sad to see those fish tiles go. But, hopefully they will go to a home that will love them as much as you did :) Those are the hardest things for me, at least, to get rid of. in the meantime, I cannot wait to see updates on your bathroom!!! One room challenge might be long over, but the rooms people created remain--and it's better to do it right, than to do it fast--after all, you are the one that is going to be using that bathroom every day!!!

Hugs from Saskatoon.


Bonnie Haupt said...

Wow! I am impressed! I am getting the low hanging fruit now and see what a job I have to do. I am a dishaholic and my remedy is to entertain and use the dishes. You are working very hard indeed and like Wilma, I am awaiting the bathroom reveal.

Prairie Wind

Alana in Canada said...

Wilma and Bonnie--I hadn't realised just how long it's been since I updated you about the bathroom.I will get right on that!

I think I might paint the dish holder white. We do need it (though since we are down to three glass "lunch" plates, I could add them to the 29 day experiment pile). Yes! I'll do it. Wilma--you always have such great suggestions. I'd love to put a box under the sink, too, but I have to get the old unused filter out of there first, I think.

Bonnie--don't rush. And do not get rid of anything that brings you peace and happiness!

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