Monday, August 29, 2011

Late-Summer Kitchen Resolutions

Even though it was 108 degrees here yesterday, I’m going to declare that we are in the home stretch: summer is almost over.

(For those of you who had to deal with Hurricane Irene, I’m really sorry.  Though I live in Texas, we are far enough inland that hurricanes tend not to bother us too much.  But to Chrissy and any readers who were stuck inside, or underground, because of Irene, I hope you are okay.)

It’s been an outrageously hot month for us down here: over 100 degrees F for most of August, according to my sources.  That’s beyond hot.  That’s an inferno, right outside your front door.  It’s heat the likes of which I’ve never encountered in the North.  I’m living in a firepit.  These days, I dream of winter, of an unfamiliar silence during which the air-conditioner doesn’t hum.  I dream of cool mornings and hot oatmeal, putting layers under my summer dresses and bike rides that leave me feeling refreshed and not dripping with sweat.  I dream of fall, of putting away my shorts and pulling out my tights.  I dream of hot apple cider, simmered with spices and ladled into mugs that may or may not be spiked with a shot of rum.

But most of all, I dream of the end of August.  And that’s just two days away.  I am so happy.

In the spirit of new starts—a new month, a new season—I’ve decided to make two kitchen resolutions to light a little fire under my behind.  To illustrate the first, I present to you this rather scary picture of my kitchen a few weeks ago:

Oh My


I’m not very good at cleaning up the kitchen after every meal.  I do some clean-up, but inevitably there are still dirty dishes in the sink when I wander off to do something else.  It’s a bad habit, I know, but it accompanies a really good habit, which is cooking at home.  Almost all of my meals are home-cooked, so my kitchen sees a lot of action.  And I really do love to cook.  This weekend, with a soup bubbling on the stove and a cake batter coming together on the countertop, I was just filled with a sense of well-being, of happy productivity.  But before my cooking session, I made myself spend a healthy chunk of time cleaning up all the dirty dishes, the ones that started to pile up on me late in the week.  It felt good to make that mess go away.

For my kitchen resolution, I’m taking baby steps.  Twice a week, I’m going to tackle whatever random mess is in the kitchen sink.  I’m going to wash everything until I have an empty sink.  Twice a week.  It’s a modest goal, but like I said: baby steps.

My second resolution is to work on emptying out the freezer.  I have a lot of food that I’ve frozen, such as last year’s cranberries, some very ripe bananas, and okra from Christopher’s garden.  I’d like to eat my way through that stash to make room for the fall harvest.  Inevitably, I’m going to end up wanting to freeze more cranberries and stash more pumpkin puree away for the winter.  I’d like to have room to do that, so I’d better make room now.

I’m happy to report that I’ve already started on the second resolution: I thawed a bag of pumpkin puree from last year.  Tonight I simmered a big scoop of it on the stovetop, then dressed it with maple syrup, butter, and a few pinches of salt.  It was delicious—earthy and rich and a little haunting.  The perfect prelude to autumn, which is just around the corner.

Do you have any kitchen resolutions?  How do you keep your cooking space from turning into a disaster zone?  Do share your secrets—this messy cook is all ears!


GiGi said...

Hi Miss Messy Cook- Here are two helpful hints
1. When preparing a dish, put each ingredient away as soon as you use it.
2.Set a timer for 10-15 minutes just to clean. The cleaning seems to go faster when there is a timer. Think you clean more? Set it again.
Happy spotless cooking.

Raquelita said...

We try to live by a rule in our household that whoever cooks (or does most of the cooking) gets to sit down and relax after dinner while the other one cleans up the dishes and wipes down the counters and stove top. It's not a perfect system, and there are often some dishes from breakfast and lunch in the sink to deal with before dinner, but it keeps our kitchen relatively tidy.

Shannon said...

haha, i just used applesauce from last year as it's almost time for new apples :) that, and i'm moving, so needs to get out! good luck :)

Rosiecat said...

Hi, Gigi! Yes, I definitely put things away promptly and I've used the timer trick in the past. Those are great ideas, and they do help keep things neater around the kitchen. The part that's hard for me is the sheer VOLUME of dishes at the end of a day because it's at least the dishes from my packed lunch and dinner, plus anything I didn't wash from the day(s) before...and this is all after working all day! Oy, I feel tired just thinking about it.

Raquelita, I think a two-person system is the best solution. It's just so hard for one person to do everything, every night...yes, of course you could argue that I have less cooking to do because I'm cooking for one, but I would love to cook more and do less clean-up! When Matt cooks, I have no complaints about cleaning up afterward--he's a great cook, and I feel pampered when he makes dinner for us.

Yes, apples! Shannon, I've got apples on the brain right now too. Good luck with your move :-)

JD said...

I would say that kitchen just looks "well loved." Try adding a toddler to the mix....eeeeek.

Kitchen said...

Why, thank you, JD! I tried to say the same thing to Rose-Anne, but she just ignored me while loading dishes into the dishwasher.

Oh yes, I have friends with toddlers running through them...they are VERY well-loved! ;-)

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I'm late to the party, but just in time to congratulate you on reaching September! And according to my weather watching, the temps in Texas should dip down next week. Cheers to that!

I think my kitchen resolution for the fall is to think ahead, cook ahead, chop ahead, etc. I have a lot of late afternoon classes this semester and by the time I get home at 6:30 I am starving and resort to going out or eating frozen veggie burgers. But, if I can convince myself to prep dinner before school, Nathan could theoretically put it in the oven and then it could possibly be ready by the time I get home. I like the sound of that!

Rosiecat said...

Chrissy, I like your resolution! I might have to steal that one...

I usually don't get home until after 6 PM, but I do like to cook dinner a few times a week Monday-Friday. I usually make myself a snack, something reasonably healthy to take the edge off my hunger, and then I start cooking. One thing that I like to do is to plan quick(er) meals for the workweek, so I can enjoy my dinnertime cooking without too much delay. I haven't been as good about the planning lately, so you can see why I'm inspired by your resolution!