Monday, October 03, 2011

Fall Kitchen Prep, Part 2

Pumpkin Loaf Pan, at Williams-Sonoma

I'm doing another kitchen organization project today. It's something I can fit in after I get back from a dinner party I've been invited to. I'll have time to work on the kitchen, and a bit of time to read a book in bed before my 9:30 bedtime.


  • Need to process some mail today? Declutter your mail table or inbox where you keep incoming paperwork? Scoop papers off a desk in your kitchen and actually get them sorted? Let's recycle our junk mail and finish paying any first-of-the-month bills that are due.

  • How is your doormat looking? Time to shake it out, vacuum or sweep it? While you're examining it, need to sweep your front porch, patio or steps?

  • Take inventory of pet food - do you need to make a trip to the pet store?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Fall Kitchen Organization Part 2 - Refrigerator and Cupboards

Tonight, I plan to tackle my two refrigerators (I keep one in the garage in addition to the kitchen one) and my cupboards. Because I keep up with my weekly fridge and freezer maintenance, this part won't take me much time tonight. I'll take just a few minutes to sterilize, sanitize and dry my fridges and freezers. Then after I get back from dinner, I can tackle my cupboards.

Let's make this fun! Put on music in your kitchen - do you have a portable boom box, MP3 player dock, or radio you can drag in? Or do you prefer a television? Though I don't often use it, I keep a television in my kitchen so I can watch cooking shows or listen to the news while I work. I can't see it while I'm working but I can listen. Put on Food Network, a favorite DVD movie, or TV Land for fun (you might catch some I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie reruns).

Pumpkin Candle, from Sur la Table

Light a fragrant candle, make coffee or tea, or pour yourself a glass of wine. Try to make it fun and the time might just zoom by.

  • Clean out the entire refrigerator and freezer. If you have been keeping up with doing it one shelf at a time on weekends, this should go quickly. Toss old food, wipe and scrub shelves, dry them off, etc. Quickly take inventory of what's left on a notepad you'll carry in your purse, so you can plan what to replace. If you think of something you need, immediately add it to your grocery list.

  • Thoroughly clean the outside of your refrigerator too. Now is a good time to have someone in your household come help you move it to clean and vacuum under it and behind it. Wash the wall behind it and on the sides of it too, if you can get to it. There's bound to be a lot of accumulated dust and grime there.

  • Make some time to think about must-have items for your freezer. For me, I don't let myself run out of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, frozen edamame and frozen corn, or frozen stir fry veggies. I also stock puff pastry and some sort of frozen berry in case I need to whip up a quick puff pastry dessert. Also, I'm never, ever without one or two frozen appetizers like Nancy's frozen quiches and Trader Joe's mushroom turnovers for impromptu cocktail parties.

    Blue Stripe Contact Paper, on Amazon

  • Cupboards - Remove all your dishes (yes, every one of them!) and wipe down your shelves, especially if they have contact paper. If your contact paper needs to be replaced, add it to your shopping list and make this a priority for next weekend.

  • Examine your dishes for dust. If you're like me you have some goblets around for entertaining that don't get used too often. Those can get quite dusty at the back of the shelf. Clean any dishes that need it, then replace in cupboards.

  • Reorganize if necessary, or find new homes for things like paper plates, plastic cups, and paper napkins. I store mine out in the garage in a Sterilite box specially marked for that purpose, so I have more room in my cupboards for my glass and china. I haven't bought paper napkins in a few years, and we're steadily working our way through using them up.

  • If applicable, examine baby utensils, Sippy cups and baby dishes for wear and tear. Discard and replace if necessary. Or get rid of them entirely if your kids are grown and you don't often have little kids visiting at mealtimes.

  • Examine your pans, utensils and cooking gadgets. Toss anything that looks broken, and clean anything dirty. If you can possibly admit to yourself you have a kitchen gadget you will NEVER use, now is a really good time to own up to that and come up with a plan for disposal of that gadget. (Sell on Ebay, put in your Yard Sale box you save in the garage for the spring, give to a friend, donate to charity, or simply throw it out).

    Wilton Halloween Witch Cookie Cutters, on Amazon

  • Cookie Cutters - Do you have an overwhelming amount of cookie cutters that you rarely use? I sure as heck do. Sort and inventory them. Consider storing them in some sort of Ziplock bag or plastic box or container to make them easier to find. It might be helpful to store them along with your cake and cookie decorating sugars and related items. Perhaps that will help us actually use them more often. As always, see if you can get rid of unneeded or duplicate cookie cutters. It's not a sin to throw a $1.75 cheapo, old, rarely used cookie cutter in the trash.

  • Add to your shopping list if you notice anything you are majorly missing that you absolutely need and definitely will use. You probably have all the pans and dishes you need, but how are you doing on plastic storage containers, kitchen sponges, cleaning supplies, dishwashing detergent, kitchen hand soap, etc?

  • Gadgets - Over this next week I'd like to challenge you to get out one kitchen gadget you haven't used in over four months and actually use it. Try a different one every day. Get that breadmaker out, clean it off and actually use it to bake bread. Find your tortilla or quesadilla maker and enjoy piping hot, cheesy quesadillas for a snack. Use your totally unnecessary heart-shaped muffin pans to make muffins today, instead of the normal round-shaped muffin tin you normally use. Use your Cuisinart to actually make fresh salsa, or see if you can get your hand mixer to mix up a nice batch of mousse. Get out your creme brulee ramekins and your blowtorch and actually make Creme brulee and caramelize the top. Why do we have all these gadgets if we aren't going to use them to make our lives even more lovely?

  • Tonight, after you are finished, reward yourself for your efforts with some sort of favorite activity that won't bring you near a kitchen. Take a long bath, watch a movie, read a book, flip through magazines, or goof off on the Web. After you've spent time fixing up your kitchen, make someone else cook for you tonight!

Tomorrow and Wednesday will bring another kitchen project. They'll be the perfect mini projects for a weeknight - just enough time you get things done, but not so much you're exhausted or struggling to finish before bedtime.

If you work a lot today, and a little every week night, your kitchen will be completely ready and organized for the fall and winter months ahead!

LOVELY BLOGS: Our House in Umbria

"Inspired living in Italy." Follow along as Michelle and Lewis build new lives in an ancient country house in the Martoni mountains of Italy. They're currently sharing their autumn chores, showing off their collected fallen figs and plums, and showcasing their friend's beautiful hand made soaps. Check out the roses in their garden, too.


Almost Vegan Zucchini Bread (Joy the Baker)

Chocolate Kahlua Zucchini Bread (Worth the Whisk)

Caramel Apple Jelloo Shots (That's So Michelle)

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze (Bon Appetit)

DIY Pumpkin Decor (Chocolate Shavings)

Easy Arrange Your Outdoor Planters (They Call Me Jammi)

Easy Sparkly Apple and Pumpkin Marshmallow Pops (The Decorated Cookie Blog)

42 Candy Corn Ideas (Cute Food for Kids)

Gwennie Striped Scarf and the Arrival of Autumn (Project Hallway)

Maple Buttermilk Pie (101 Cookbooks)

Maple Oatmeal Scones (All Things Girl)

Oatmeal for Dinner (CHOW)

Pumpkin Muffins (Lolo Magazine)

Pumpkin Pie Cookies (Bakers Royale)

1 comment :

Lori said...

Oh goodness, I haven't thought about pulling my fridge away from the wall in a couple of years. Gross, I'm going to have to make my husband help me with that tonight! Thanks for the reminder!