Is your kitchen functional and inspiring?
Everyday we use our kitchen to prepare meals so it only makes sense that this area of your home should be functional and appealing if we expect to be successful. Do you enjoy the atmosphere of your kitchen? Is the environment welcoming?
Let’s start by making some simple changes that do not have to be overly expensive. I encounter many situations with people wanting to improve areas of the culinary arts within their home kitchens and lifestyles, and the first and most easy step is removing clutter.
A cluttered work area is not inspiring. You need room to not only feel comfortable but also to provide yourself with adequate work space.
It is nice to have objects in your kitchen that are of decorative value but make sure that these things are not taking over your kitchen. Keep them to a limit; enough to define you and your style, but not so many that it is all you see.
The next step is functionality. Keep one area cleared that will be always be used for a cutting board. This space should have easy accessibility to your knives and perhaps your sink and/or stovetop.
Knives are best kept in a knife block where they can be simply removed and returned every time you use them. If your counter space does not allow the room for a knife block in this preparation area you have chosen, then consider purchasing a magnetic knife strip that mounts on the wall.
Another solution would be a knife holder that slides into a nearby drawer. The main thing to keep in mind is that knives should not be stored loose in a drawer. This is not only dangerous but also detrimental to extending the life of the sharpness of the blades.
The next area to focus on is the accessibility of other kitchen utensils and equipment. A canister with an assortment of wooden spoons, spatulas, and other tools works great. You don’t need to have every utensil you own in there, just the ones that you use the most.
Where your pots and pans are stored is just as important. If you have the money and space, consider buying a hanging pot rack. This will not only make them more easily accessible but also provide protection to non-stick surfaces by not having them stacked on top of each other in a cupboard.
Most pot racks also provide ample storage for lids on the surface above the hanging equipment. The other obvious added bonus of a pot rack is the sudden creation of extra cupboard space.
Other areas to consider for ease of use would be the accessibility of your spices and pantry. You may even want to revamp the state of your pantry and the food supply in your kitchen.
Perhaps you have always wanted to have a pantry that is more focused on your favorite cuisines. For example, someone who loves Italian and Greek cuisine would stock their pantry with varying types of olives, capers, tomatoes, grape leaves, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, etc. The refrigerator and freezer can also be coordinated to contain the perishables of the same cuisine.
Motivation to focus more on cooking certain cuisines in your household will start with having the ingredients at your fingertips. One can even take this to the extreme in organization by creating labels and segregating areas in your pantry for different food groupings.
Organizing or redecorating a space in your home will always entice you to spend more time in that area. You may want to even complete your kitchen transformation by having some kitchen art or framed posters that reflect the cuisine(s) you are interested in and/or the new theme to your kitchen.
This can also be taken to the extreme, if your budget allows, by refinishing the cupboards, buying new appliances, and adding a new coat of paint. This amount of work however, is not mandatory for you to feel like your kitchen has become more of a special place.
Sometimes all it takes it a little extra lighting to create a more open and inviting space. Easy to install under-counter, wireless lights can now be found at very reasonable prices.
Now that we have your kitchen in a more workable inviting state, it’s time to get you inspired to do some cooking. The simplest of all culinary resolutions however is to blow some dust off your cookbooks and start making some new dishes.
Whether it is of small or large proportions, we all have collections of cookbooks… with many of them going unused. Make it a goal in your home to open up a cookbook once or twice a week, and try a new recipe. Happy Cooking!
Send your food/cooking questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4. Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary instructor and cooking show performer. Visit him at www.chefdez.com.