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Reclaiming The Kitchen






Clean-Up Tips

Many people avoid the kitchen not so much because of the cooking, but because of the clean-up chores that follow. If you're not gifted with the neat gene, a good clean-up strategy is essential.


Start With a Clean Kitchen

Nothing is a bigger exercise in frustration than trying to cook in a messy kitchen. If your sink is full of dishes, and the counter tops are cluttered, you're just making your job more difficult. So take 10 minutes to clean the kitchen before you begin.


Clean as You Go, But Don't Stress About It

The "clean as you go" strategy is much touted by the tidily-inclined group, but it can be a double edged sword. Its success depends on what you are cooking, and how practiced you are at preparing that particular dish. This is because one of the most tricky things about preparing an entire meal is to get all of the different pieces to be done at the same time! When you try to throw clean-up into the middle of it, it's really easy to end up burning or overcooking something while your attention was on the soapy water in the sink. Don't let your meal suffer just because you're trying to adhere to a clean-up rule!


You'll probably have the most success if you approach this as cleaning a few things as you go. If you find yourself with a few stray minutes in the middle of cooking, don't stand there and stomp your feet waiting for the water to boil or the onion to sauté clear, take advantage of the moment to wash whatever utensils you are done with, or throw some things into the dishwasher.


Get a Clean-Up Partner

Here's where the "Clean as you Go" strategy can really start to work. If you're lucky enough to have a partner who is supportive of your kitchen hobby, you can enlist their help in the clean-up. The cleaning partner's job is to mop up spills and wash bowls, knives & utensils as you finish with them. This can be a great way to include your family in the cooking process in a useful and helpful way.


Don't Delay

When you've just finished cooking a meal, or eating a meal, it's natural to want to sit back and savor the experience. Unfortunately, you're not really done cooking until you're done cleaning. If you do the dishes before the food dries on and sticks there is no soaking or scrubbing necessary, and it will take about half the time that it does once they have become a congealed mess! One way to make this job easier is to postpone dessert or coffee until after the clean-up from dinner is complete. If you make this a habit, then you effectively insert the clean-up in the middle of the meal, and can still enjoy that "just finished with a meal" satisfaction when the meal is over.


Empty The Dishwasher Promptly

The single most important thing you can do to maintain a clean kitchen is to empty the dishwasher as soon as the dishes are clean. This may seem like an obvious and simple task, but it has a remarkable effect. It really only takes about 5 minutes to empty the dishwasher and put away the clean dishes, but if you don't do it in a timely manner, you set in motion a deadly chain of events that generally leads to a pile of dirty dishes in the sink! Because if the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, there is no place to put the dirty ones! If you're a cleaning procrastinator you may chafe at the idea of not being done when the dishwasher is finally loaded and running, but making this one a habit will make your life MUCH easier.


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