I think we all have a lot of 'stuff' in our kitchens that we don't need. Our grandmothers all cooked every meal from scratch and preserved food from their gardens with a fraction of the gadgets and storage space that we all have now. Think of the cupboard space in an average 1950s or even 1970s home compared to our kitchens today. What are we hanging onto that perhaps we don't really need?
Having said that, I am not volunteering to going back to beating up cakes with a wooden spoon. On the other hand, I have a small, cheap hand-held electric beater, not a giant, expensive Kitchen-Aid, gorgeous though they are. For each of us there may be a different set of gadgets that we love and use every day, and others that maybe we keep 'just in case'. Maybe it's a bread machine or a juicer or fifty extra tupperware containers or a cup cake stand that is getting in between chaos and a sane, calm, ordered space. A very dear friend of mine hates to throw away plastic take away containers, because that would be such a waste. When I helped her clean out her kitchen last year they were taking up a whole cupboard! In my case I have said 'No' to the Thermomix and the Kitchen-Aid and the bread machine, and 'Yes' to the blender and food processor I already own, and making bread by hand, which I find very therapeutic. It all comes down to our individual kitchens and habits. How much space do we have (this is a reality we generally can't change) and what are our habits and needs (these can change if we want it enough)?
Anyway, I have accepted the reality that I cannot fit anything else into my kitchen without removing something already there, and I am quite happy with that, because I can't think of anything I need to cook or store that I can't currently manage, so all good:) Actually, having said that, I could stand to remove a couple of things from my baking and cookware drawers, because the key to a calm kitchen, or any kind of storage, is a margin of space for inefficient packing. A couple of my deep drawers are so full that they require very dedicated stacking, which means they don't shut when the children unpack the dish washer. This is clearly unacceptable:) So well, yes, a little decluttering is in order.
But principally this week - cleaning. Theoretically I clean one wall of the kitchen each week. But practically, these last few months I have been skipping the deep clean and just wiping surfaces before returning to howling in a dark corner. Now I have mostly quit howling, I am noticing the months of ground-in grime. And much as procrastinating is one of my best talents, the satisfaction of a sparkly clean kitchen is profound, as is the wonderful seratonin hit of vigorous exercise in a sunny kitchen to the accompaniment of rather loud music. Well, I am hoping for all of that anyway:)
So tasks for this week:
Cleaning the fronts of all the cabinets, including the high ones I always skip (we had cupboards built up to the ceiling to get extra storage and no dust traps).
Cleaning the rangehood, including the filters.
Cleaning the microwave and oven (aargh!).
Cleaning out the fridge and freezer.
Oh dear, the bin cupboard.
Clean the dishwasher.
Make sure there isn't any unused food in the pantry (rhetorical - I know there is!) Come up with a plan to use it.
Anything else? Clean the appliances on the bench.
Vacuum and wipe out the drawers.
Will I get through all of this? Possibly not, but anything that I manage will be an improvement:)
Monday: Did all my Monday jobs, then had a nana nap and faffed about, feeling broody and miserable with my cold. Am not a fun person to be around with a cold. Finally at 10pm was about to drag my sorry self to bed, but couldn't bear to not be able to report a tiny bit of progress to you all - so cleaned the microwave. Teeny tiny baby steps:)
Tuesday: Similar to Monday. I cleaned the bathroom, napped, then started in on my cleaning jobs at the relatively early hour of 8.30pm. Climbed up on my step ladder and washed the fronts of all the high cabinets. I am really going to have to get a wriggle on over the next few days! I might even have to contemplate starting to clean before dinner.
Wednesday: Medical appointments, visitors, children.
Thursday: Feeling blah about unrelenting march of iron levels towards bottom of chart. More medical tests imminent. Visit friends for mental health boost. Bath.
Friday: Ok, we CAN clean the kitchen, can't we? I climbed up on the step ladder to clean the stainless steel range hood with my excellent home made bathroom paste, only to be met with the message 'Posy was here' inscribed in the greasy, dusty film that covered it. Thank you Posy, my housekeeping conscience. Why, you may ask, was 10 year old Posy high enough to be able to leave a message above my line of sight? My guess would be she was standing on a high stool raiding the chocolate I keep out of her reach. Until now..
And here, my friends, is my tip of the day. Which you are probably already doing anyway. A couple of months ago a friend was visiting after I had spent a good half hour cleaning the range hood filters laboriously in the kitchen sink. 'You know you can put them in the dishwasher?' she said nonchalantly. Ha. Well, today I can confirm that, yes, it is indeed possible to wash filters in the dishwasher. Hooray! Happy days! I may be the last person to discover this, but just in case I am only the second-last person to find out, I offer this tip to you, my lovelies, to use as you will.
Saturday and Sunday: Aargh, the state of the oven has been haunting me. Usually (read 'once a year') I clean the oven using the most toxic chemicals in spray can known to man, because nothing else will shift the baked-on gunk. But this weekend would be different. Armed with several oven cleaning recipes using no more than lemons and baking soda, I would be green and clean. First I liberally wiped the inside of the oven with my bathroom paste (see above). Then I heated the oven. When it was good and hot (200C, 390F) I poured boiling water into a pan of cut-up lemons, popped the pan in the oven, and left it all to cook for 20 mins. Turned off the oven without opening the door and let it all cool down to merely warm. When I took the pan out it looked like this:
All that brown gunge had dripped into the pan from the roof of the oven. Mmm. Now imagine steel wool and 20 mins or so of hard scrubbing, using extra baking soda on the baked-on lava-like formations on the oven door. It was a great workout. It did not bear much resemblance to the instructions in my old housekeeping manual which blithely advised me that I would be able to wipe out the oven with a soft cloth. Ha. Still, perhaps previous generations cleaned their ovens more than once a year.
Ok, so now my oven is quite reasonably clean, though not exactly ex-factory pristine, I am wondering if it is possible to wipe it out when I have used it? Possible yes, but probable? Hmmm...
Thank you, as always for your company and comments. They keep me cleaning and decluttering with verve if not 100% efficiency. You will have realised by now that I have not accomplished everything on my list - but you know what, the kitchen is WAY cleaner than it was last week, so I am counting this week as a win:)