Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is your kitchen keeping up with you?

Mine isn't! I have a small kitchen designed for people that buy a week or two of prepared food. There are not enough cabinets for storing dishes, cookware, equipment, spices and condiments - let alone food. And once you start preserving and storing - oh my!

A lack of organization seriously influences how overwhelmed I feel. Plans and lists make me feel more prepared, even if I don't have an iota more food than before I had the lists.

I recently realized that part of my "confused" feeling was the cognitive dissonance of changing our food habits, while still cooking in a kitchen arranged for grocery-store dependence. The stuff in the kitchen is for short-term use, but it requires much more organizational thought as the long-term buckets in the basement.

I am very much enjoying cooking from my increasing pantry. Even a PB&J is now MY peach jam on DD11's bread with peanut butter from a supply that looks very large. That feels satisfying.

But I was still digging around in bins, crates, and an exploding spice cabinet to make any meal. Moving things from place to place to make room to do anything. Stepping over boxes of jars.

The large cabinet I found recently made a huge difference by making a place for for our spices, baking ingredients, and jarred good for immediate use. It made me realize that reorganizing the kitchen goes hand-in-hand with changing our shopping and eating patterns. We always made more scratch food than most people, but still, our cabinets held a relatively small supply of ingredients, emptied and refilled every two weeks or so. I bought one bag of flour at at time, and only one kind.

Now, I have four kinds of flour - unbleached all-pupose, bread, spelt, and whole wheat. Plus yeast, oat bran, flax meal, toasted wheat germ, groats, rolled oats, cornmeal, grits, and toasted cornmeal. Three kinds of salt - iodized, kosher, and pickling. Sugar: white, powdered, brown, dark brown, molasses, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup. Oil: canola, peanut, olive, sesame, yarrow. Vinegar: distilled white, apple cider, rice wine, white wine, red wine, balsamic.

I have more processes, and more equipment to perform those processes. Pickling supplies, canning supplies, bread making suppplies. The insulated bag and containers I need to make yogurt need a permanent home. Cast iron is heavier that other cookware and doesn't hang on little hooks safely. The bread machine, crockpot, canners, and dehydrator all need space. More trays and baking pans have appeared, along with more storage containers, plastic and glass. And if we make hard cider, that will take a fermenting bucket and bottles. Bins for two kinds of onions, garlic, ginger root, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

So, building new skills requires not only new routines, but physical re-organizing, even before you start storing food for longer periods of time. I've barely begun to store real bulk supplies in the basement, and that can happen without affecting the ktichen at all. But the state of the kitchen is what makes me feel crazy or sane.

I think I could fit a small corner cupboard right next to the door, or a tall utility cabinet or shelf unit. I'd love to mount a pot rack, but I don't want to leave it behind for the landlord, or have to pay for fixing the holes it would make.

I like this DIY bike-wheel pot rack, and it would only make one hole in the ceiling, as long as I find a joist to solidly screw it into. But I don't think it would take the weight of cast iron.


Verde said...

Oh cool - I love the bicycle wheel pot rack!

Storage can always be neatly stacked boxes in the corner...behind a chair.

Gina said...

Around here, the Amish use bike wheels on their clotheslines to hold socks and small items to dry. I've always wanted to make one (but, of course, haven't yet, LOL)