Saturday, October 02, 2010

Fall Kitchen Preparations, Part 1

Marseille Towels, in a perfect shade for autumn

As the days grow colder, our appetites and our cooking styles change with the new season. New types of produce become available at the farmer's markets and grocery stores. We crave different foods - hot soups, chilis, crusty breads, pies, apples, pears, and hearty vegetables.

Those of us who live in colder, darker climates might find ourselves going out to restaurants less in the upcoming months. We might stay home for quiet meals, or have just two or three other people over for dinner. (Plus in this economy it's probably a good idea to eat at home as much as possible to save money).

It's time to start gearing up for fall cooking, baking, feeding overnight guests, giving food gifts, and entertaining. Time to sort and organize our kitchens, take inventory, and stock our pantries with necessities.


  • Our weekly fridge and freezer maintenance keeps our fridges completely cleaned out every month. Clean, sort, sanitize and organize one shelf, one drawer, or two door shelves in your fridge or freezer today.

  • Life can't be just about doing housework or making a home! Go to a movie tonight, get out a book, go out with friends, take a bath, listen to music, or catch up on your backlog of DVR shows.

  • Need to stop by the library to pick up books for the weekend? Need to return any Netflix movies so you can receive more? Time to update your Netflix queue?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Fall Kitchen Prep, Part 1

Even if you hate cooking, or don't consider yourself a cook, you'll need to get your kitchen in order. That way someone who does the cooking in your household (be it a husband, boyfriend, child, grandmother, mother-in-law, or good friend who comes over and attacks your kitchen) has all the tools and supplies they need.

  • Go through your stack or folder of takeout menus from various restaurants. Throw away duplicates or out-of-date menus, and organize your collection. Store near the phone for easy access. There will no doubt be cold nights ahead when you're too tired to cook and don't want to go out. Those menus will come in handy. Get in the habit of grabbing a take-out menu whenever you're at a restaurant you like that offers them. Plan ahead for those cold, rainy, snowy nights. (And tip the poor, frozen deliveryperson well!)

  • Go through your potholders and kitchen towels and immediately discard any limp, smelly kitchen towels or crusty, stained potholders. Be firm with yourself - don't give in to the temptation to keep an old towel around "just in case." It's ok to transfer old kitchen towels to your Rag pile (I use mine for dusting, cleaning floors and windows, etc.) But then get rid of ONE of your worst rags for EVERY old kitchen towel you put in the rag pile. It's all about avoiding clutter and weeding out unnecessary items in our lives.

  • Put new potholders and new kitchen towels on your shopping list, and don't forget to grab some next time you are at the grocery store. Many stores are actually carrying attractive seasonal towels this week, so you should easily be able to find something you like. It's a small expense that makes your home cleaner, cozier and prettier, so don't be afraid to skimp somewhere else in your budget in order to afford $10 worth of new kitchen towels.

  • If you have guests helping you in your kitchen often, please be sure to have plenty of clean, soft, dry towels for people to dry their hands with. I can't tell you how often I end up with red, chapped hands from helping do dishes at someone else's house and not being able to properly dry my hands; or from drying my hands on very rough scratchy towels.

  • Speaking of towels, check your paper towel inventory (if you use those) and be sure you have a good supply.

  • Take a look around your kitchen and see what needs to be done to make your kitchen clean, usable, enjoyable and efficient. Can you declutter items off the counters? Any appliances you don't use every week that you can store elsewhere?

  • You won't want to be sorting and organizing in a dirty kitchen, so today is the day to empty and fill the dishwasher, scrub the sink and counters, wipe down all the cabinet doors, and mop the floor. Empty the trash can and take out the recycling. Wash windows as needed. Sort through fruit bowls and get rid of anything rotting. Wash fruit bowls and replace back on the counter, preferably with fresh fruit you'll pick up at the store today?

Done with your preparations for the rest of this week's kitchen projects? Get yourself in the fall cooking mood, if you at all enjoy cooking magazines, by treating yourself to reading one or two today. Pick up Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine or even just the fall Williams-Sonoma catalog - or read their websites to save money. Have a nice cup of coffee or tea and something to munch on as you browse - looking at beautifully photographed food makes me so hungry! Visit fun food, cooking and home-decor webpages tonight during your nightly Internet browsing time. Drool over kitchen gadgets you don't need and can't afford, impractically beautiful expensive dishes, and amazing mail-order pastries. Get on your TIVO and look for cooking shows that are coming up to record, if you like such a thing.

(If you absolutely despise cooking and are angry at me for even mentioning the topic, go to your favorite fashion website and drool over fall fashions instead!) Have fun looking at beautiful things today, because we have a lot of work to do in the kitchen tomorrow and the rest of this week.

LOVELY BOOKS: Mini Shopaholic

I'm giddily excited to read the newest book in the Shopaholic series. They're silly, fluffy and fun light reading, and I so need something like that after a stressful week. In this new book, Becky's daughter Minnie is now two years old and proving to be as stubborn and luxury-brand demanding as readers would expect. I can't wait to hear what antics Becky's up to this time. No Saturday Night Live viewing for me tonight - I'll be in bed reading this!

LOVELY BLOGS: Diamonds for Dessert

This is a beautifully photographed cooking blog. I love reading through it, but it makes me feel like the least imaginative cook and worst photographer ever - laugh! I think some of you will really get a kick out of her Glee Cookies, and check out her inventive Apple Pie-Rate Ship! This is definitely a blog I'll make a priority to look at every couple of days.

LOVELY KITCHEN: Fall Forest Piecutters

I bought a similar set of leaf pie cutters last year, so I won't pick this one up, but I wanted to show them to you. They're easy to use and I enjoyed using them both with pie crust and with soft slices of cheese to serve kids. I have a kitchen toothbrush (that's never been in someone's mouth!) that I use to clean these and other small kitchen gadgets like them. I store them inside a porcelain ramekin cup so they're always at hand when I want to play with them.

LOVELY TV: Undercover Boss

I am glad to see that Undercover Boss is back on! I'm fascinated by this reality show, that sends in bosses disguised as new employees to do pretty menial tasks in the company. There's always the big reveal at the end where the boss fesses up to the underlings they worked with that week. Generally it ends in a promotion, bonus or special treatment for the lower level workers who have shown how hard they work. It's not super heartwarming, but I generally end up smiling at the end of each show. I wish more bosses would do things like this to try to understand what it's like at the other end of the company. The show airs Sundays on CBS.

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