November 1, 2011

Quick Tips and Tricks that make Life in the Kitchen a Little More Enjoyable

Ok, so maybe I don't live in my kitchen. But I do spend a lot of time there. I'm predicting too that in the distant future when Pugmire children #2-17 join our family- my time in the kitchen will only increase. I mean, it's been said before that the average American woman spends 19 days a year in her kitchen. With that in mind, I've compiled a list of tips and tricks I use every day to make my life in the kitchen a little more manageable. And heck, I'd even say enjoyable.

1. Use a plastic grocery bag while you cook to throw all your peelings, packagings, and garbage away. It keeps scraps and trash altogether in the same place- it won't muck up your sink and garbage disposal- and you don't have to pick up any of that trash with your hands at the end of your preparation. Have your husband take it out for you and then the disintegrating cucumber peels and chicken skins won't smell up your house.
2. Use products you enjoy using. Get a cute pair of kichen gloves (i.e.: gloveables.) Find and wear an apron you love. Explore different dishsoaps. I personally do not like yellow Joy or blue Dawn because they dry out my hands, are really slimey, and quite frankly don't smell very good. I love Mrs. Meyer's clean day products, especially their dishsoaps. (The lavender and basil scents are my favorite, although eyer lemon smells very clean and fresh.) It looks cute next to your sink and I find it quite delightful to use. My mom thought I bought it at Anthropologie. I told her I was not cool or wealthy enough to buy my dishsoap at Anthropologie. I just buy it at the grocery store... yet not all grocers carry it. Target sales really cute scrub brushes and sponges that also just make cleaning dishes and your kitchen sink a little more pleasant. Following this advice may just make you feel like the quintessential 50's housewife.

3. If you like to cook, invest in a nice set of knives. I literally only have 4 knives to use but since they're high quality it's all I need. Keep them sharpened and make sure you don't wash them in the dishwasher. Take good care of them, and they'll take good care of you.
4. Listen to music while you work. Preferably Justin Bieber. I think I've said enough.
5. Take mental notes of good things you eat in restaurants, or recipe ideas you see in magazines. It's fun to experiment and try to re-create something you had that you loved or something that looked really good. Also recall classic flavor combinations and play on those. I know that apples are good with pork and fruit chutneys are good with fish. Take concepts like this and run with 'em. I made chicken and rice once and added raw pomegranate seeds and cut up apples. The burst of sweet and tart complemented the savory chicken sauce, and the added crunch of the fresh fruit added to the textural element.
6. Put something pretty to look at in your windowsill- especially if you don't have a nice view out your kitchen sink window.
7. Collect cookbooks that inspire you to cook and look through them often to refresh your desire to try new things. Display the pretty ones.
8. Adorable hand towels are the perfect kitchen accessory. Buy one and leave it hanging by your oven. You never even have to use it... but it'll sure look cute.
9. Think about the colors of the meal you are preparing. Not only is a colorful meal healthier for you, it appeals to the senses and leaves you more satisfied.
10. Decorate your kitchen. In our apartment the kitchen was the room I originally neglected. I didn't think it mattered if the kitchen was decorated or not. By the time we were getting ready to leave, I thought the kitchen was the cutest room in the house. It made me happy to be in there, and motivated me to cook more often. The great thing too about decorating the kitchen is that you only need a few small items to do so.
11. Collect glass: display it, and serve on it. I love to go to thrift stores and find old vases, jars, candleholders, bowls, plates, cups, and goblets. Nearly every glass item in my kitchen was thrifted. Glass looks pretty when light hits it- it doesn't matter if it's expensive or cheap, new or old.
12. Keep fruit in pretty containers on your counter. It's easy to grab and sometimes flavors can be damaged by refrigeration. Did you know tomatoes should always be kept at room temperature? Refrigerating tomatoes ruins their texture (makes them tougher) and inhibits their natural sweetness.
13. Cook with family and friends. Few things are more fun than this.
14. Cook things you love to eat. This is what makes cooking fun. Be wise here however... baking chocolate chip cookies and brownies every single day is not advisable. Unless, of course, you're not like me and you can actually restrain yourself from consuming 6 servings of cookie dough in addition to your 5 cookies.
 15. Cook things whoever you're cooking for loves. Seeing someone really enjoying your food is satisfying and rewarding.
15. Go out to eat every once and a while. Not only will you appreciate not having to cook... you will appreciate home cooked food a lot more. Nothing beats it!
 16. Keep a plant in your kitchen. I don't know why I love this so much. Maybe because nurturing a plant's life while you prepare meals for those you love seems like the pinnacle of domesticity.
17. Do it your way. The kitchen is the heart of the home- so make it yours.
18. Sit down for meals with your family. Is anything better than this? Dessert maybe...
19. Shop at grocery stores you love. If you live in Utah- shop at Harmon's. You must. While you're there- sample and buy the French Country bread from the bakery. And try the flavored olive oils if you would. Don't forget the cheese samples... and the gigantic organic section. Ugh... I hate you right now.
20. Organize your fridge and cupboards meticulously. Make them look magazine worthy. You won't regret it.
21. Enjoy. I hope this post has inspired you to spend a little more time in your kitchen. I think your family'll thank you for it.

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