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       Volume I - December 28, 2007

The Holiday-Ready Kitchen
by Alice Osborne

It would be hard to find a room more overworked during the holidays, than the kitchen. So why not take some time to get your kitchen ready to meet the demands that’ll be placed on it—a kitchen that will be easy to work and entertain in!

Ground rules: We’ll group and store like items (top quality items known as “keepers”) together, and we’ll get rid of anything we don’t like, use, need, want, or have room for.

Generally there’s a whole lotta bakin’ going on, so let’s start by creating a baking center:

  • Choose a cupboard above a piece of counter-top where you do your mixing. This cupboard should hold every spice you bake with. So if your herbs and spices are stored together, separate them. ONLY keep those you KNOW you will truly use. Place all keeper spices in a container or on a plastic turntable, and sit them in this cupboard.

  • This cupboard should also hold all other baking ingredients: baking soda, baking powder, flour, sugars, fats, baking chips, coconut, vanilla and other extracts, food colorings, and so on. Again, ONLY keep those you know you will use and are fresh.

  • Gather your measuring cups, measuring spoons, mixer beaters, rubber spatulas (only those with good edges), rolling pin, pastry blender, pastry cloth, cookie cutters, and so on, into one place (perhaps a drawer below the counter where you do your mixing).

  • Gather your baking pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls, and mixers (hand and counter) into one place (perhaps a cupboard below the drawer and counter where you do your mixing). Remember to ask yourself if you still like, use, need, want or have room for these items. Do yourself a favor and get rid of duplicates, seldom-to-never-used items, and things that aren’t up to par (rusty pans are a common candidate). If there’s room, all electric appliances used for baking would go here as well (bread maker, grain grinder, etc.).

    Holidays can mean visitors, which can mean extra cooking, so let’s create a cooking center next:

  • A cooking center usually involves an upper cupboard, a drawer, a lower cupboard, and of course, the stove. So if you can locate your center near the stove, all the better.

  • Gather your herbs—sorting through to eliminate those you’ll never use or are out of date. Group your keepers into a container or onto a plastic turntable.

  • Gather all other ingredients you cook with: oils, cornstarch, salt & pepper, bouillon cubes, and so on, and group them into the cupboard with your herbs.

  • Sort through your pots, pans and lids. Keep only quality and don’t keep duplicates. Group them into a cupboard below the upper cupboard, if possible. If there’s room, the electric cooking appliances would go here as well.

  • If you have a drawer near the stove, this is where your potholders and table trivets would go—ONLY keepers, though. Get rid of any with ugly stains, burn holes, etc.

    This is just a general approach to creating two of the most important centers for a user-friendly kitchen—the baking and the cooking centers. Customize them to meet your needs. The basic idea is to get rid of stuff you no longer like, use, need, want or have room for, which will save you LOTS of time and effort when it comes time to bake or cook.

    Centering a kitchen also saves time, and is the professional way to setting a kitchen up for serious work, which is exactly what the holidays call for. Happy New Year!

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