Wednesday, June 20, 2012

De-cluttering the Kitchen

or perhaps a more descriptive title:  Fewer Knives, More Coffee Cups

With our recent move, I did a LOT of de-cluttering in the kitchen.  I have slowly come to realize that I strongly prefer a high quality, multi-use tool to a specialized gadget that takes up space in my kitchen.  For the best example of that, you can read why I got rid of my garlic press.

De-cluttering in general is a good and needful thing.  We tend to accumulate too much stuff.  More stuff means more time spent trying to maintain and organize that stuff.  An uncluttered kitchen where everything has a place is a wonderfully freeing thing. I have also found that when I have less, I am forced to do a better job keeping up with washing the dishes and I can always use encouragement in that area!

Alton Brown recommends that any item you haven't used in 3 months goes into storage outside of your working kitchen (boxed and labeled in basement storage or a closet) and any item you haven't used in a year just goes.  Ouch!  But this is a rather good guideline and it will help you keep your sanity. It also allows for the odd items that are truly useful to you and your family.  For us, that means keeping a food processor, a tortilla press, and an egg cooker.  For others that may mean a blender, a waffle iron, or a rice cooker. 

In regards to knives, don't buy a set of knives because only 1/3 of them will be truly useful.  Don't buy fancy choppers that are a pain to clean when a knife will do the job just as well.  Buy only what you need.  You can cut anything with just four knives in your kitchen.  Get GOOD knives that you can easily sharpen, especially a good chef's knife.  Don't be scared of big knives.  Big knives are much easier to control than small, thin blades. 

So here are a couple of knife storage options with my recommended knives:
From left to right:  cheese slicer, carving knife (for roasts and large cuts of meat), bread knife, tomato knife (now moved in with canning supplies), two paring knives, chef's knife and two pair of kitchen shears (GREAT for cutting up food for the Littles)

At first, I was a little scared to have my knives so exposed, but if you have an out-of-the-way place for a magnet strip like this, it's a wonderful system.

In our current house, we can't mount the magnet strip on the wall, so we're back to knives in a drawer.  I recommend that rubbery shelf liner to keep them from sliding around.  Having so few knives, I can easily lay my hands on what I want without fear of cutting myself.  Here we have -

Same knives, only the kitchen shears and the cheese slicer are in a different drawer.  I have also recently learned that you should not store your knives in a sheath or a knife block.  The sheaths are almost impossible to clean and will dull your knives much sooner.  I save the sheaths for when my knives need to travel.

I don't know about you, but the kitchen is my primary workspace in our home.  Tackle a cabinet or drawer at a time and determine if you need to do some weeding out.  Just make sure in your efforts to minimize, you keep hospitality in mind.  Get rid of the gadgets, or at least most of them.  Keep the coffee cups.  Haven't used those extra coffee cups in a year?  HAVE SOME PEOPLE OVER!  :)

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