Monday, May 9, 2011

Kitchen 2.0

My favorite room in my apartment is my kitchen.  I love to cook, and cooking ground zero is the room with my oven, refrigerator, and pantry in it.  As I have matured, so has my kitchen.  When I first moved to Chicago from Massachusetts and lived with 4 roommates, I didn't own a single pan or plate.  When I first moved in with Chelsea, most of our kitchen stuff was inherited from her grandmother, or purchased with money I got when I graduated college.  As time has gone along, my cooking powers have grown, and I have accumulated some bad-ass pots, pans, and appliances.  Now, I own a food processor, a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, and a Wusthof knife amongst other neat things.  I have a pantry filled with brown rice, beans, canned tomatoes, and other sundries.  My refrigerator overflows with milk and leftovers, sauces and jellies.  And my freezer! Frozen vegetables, and chicken carcasses for making stock.

Awesome.  Amazing.  Wonderful.  My kitchen cup runneth over.

The ugly side to all of this is that my kitchen was a mess.  I mean, it didn't look like a mess from the outside, but from within? Let's just say, many a time I have lost a pan, or opened a cabinet and had pie pans come careening down- striking my person every which way.  While I use my wok almost constantly, other gadgets, like my old juicer sat in the pantry collecting dust.  Worse- the dust they collected was a horrid, tar-like combination of olive oil and cat fur. I organized my kitchen the same way most people do- without really thinking about it, or applying logic.

Then I read this:

Lifehacker is a website that shows you neat little tricks to improve your life.  This particular article- based around ideas from the book "Cooking For Geeks" served as my general guideline.

So, over the course of last weekend, Chelsea and I did the following:

1.  Went through every single thing in the kitchen.  We emptied every drawer, every cabinet and the whole pantry.  We took an honest look at the crap we've accumulated over the years, and threw away anything we have never used.  Old humidifier? Gone.  Mint tins from our trip to Disney World in 2007? Disposed of.  That old juicer? Shot out of the airlock into the bleakness of space.

2.  Then we cleaned everything.  We bought a bunch of cleaning supplies and scrubbed down the whole kitchen from top to bottom.  I never knew a kitchen island could get so filthy.

3.  Put everything back in a way that made logical sense.  Normally, you group kitchen stuff like this "Glasses go with other glasses, Pots and pans go with pots and pans, appliances go with appliances", etc. etc. ad infinitum.  Per the article above, we went through a normal week of eating, and reorganized our kitchen to maximize efficiency.  For example, every morning, I drink a cup of coffee, some eggs, and toast.  Chelsea has tea, and either toast or oatmeal.  So, we created a cabinet that contained all of our tea and coffee, some mugs, bread, and peanut butter (our toast topping of choice).  This cabinet is right next to our stove.  On our island, we replaced the old rickety pans and gadgets that were there previously with our most commonly used pots and pans- the wok, the cast iron skillet, some sauce pans, and our frying pans.  The eggs, of course, still live in the refrigerator.  All of these things used to be all over the kitchen.  Now, in the morning, I barely have to walk anywhere when I put breakfast together, where before I had to walk all over the kitchen. 

4.  Actually made all of this look pretty.  We kind of redecorated.  We used our hutch- which has a glass front- as a display case for some cool stuff we have like an old-looking Chinese teapot.  This was set in front of a very nice carved wooden cutting board.

This doesn't sound particularly complicated, but the whole process took place over 2 days and roughly 6 hours.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.  My favorite room is now clean, and more importantly, set up in a way that is logical, and incredibly efficient.

As a side note- I'm going to add pictures to this at some point soon so stay tuned for that.

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