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:
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!