Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

An Organized Kitchen

Organized Kitchen for the Come-On-In Cook

Some cooks want to be alone. You prefer to share conversation — and KP — with a friend, a mate, your kids. For you, the goal is to arrange things so that two (or five) can work as efficiently as one.

The Strategies

Make things easy for helpers to find. To keep the conversation going without interruptions in the form of “Where do you keep your (fill in the blank)?” bring things into the open with a wall-mounted utensil rack and clear storage bins. Group tools by function — for example, knives, cheese cutters, and egg slicers are “things that cut.”

Create parallel work stations.When one cook has to keep stepping in front of another to retrieve this and search for that. Set up separate work areas with equal access to commonly used tools and ingredients. Trash is fine under the sink, unless someone is standing there. An enclosed bin with a wide foot pedal can be moved about easily to serve cooks on both sides of an island or a counter.

Make the room kid-friendly. If you’re a come-on-in cook with kids, create a zone where they’ll feel welcome to help or just visit. For safety, move cleaning products and knives to adults-only heights. Stock up on kitchen tools made for kids and plastic bowls that won’t break if dropped. Don’t forget chairs for them— and some folding ones for grown-up visitors.

Add music. Remember how Motown turned dishwashing into an after party in The Big Chill? With an MP3-friendly music player, you can write your own dinner-prep sound track.

The Tools and Tactics

Magnetic Knife Bar. Use a magnetic strip to keep frequently used utensils, like the vegetable peeler and the can opener, in sight.

Lazy Susan. A large lazy Susan placed between work stations makes the wooden spoons and the olive oil just a spin away from a cook on either side.

Large Bin Box. Clear bins keep similar items (spices, baking supplies) together and easy to locate. Square containers let you pack more onto a shelf than round.

Play table and kiddie chairs. Give your little sous-chefs a place to help hull strawberries by creating a kids' area.

Semiround Step Wastebasket). Tucks flat against a counter.

Nesting bowls. In kid-friendly plastic - bright colors work great.

Dual cutting boards. Twin cutting boards let you chop the onions on your side of the island while your friend preps the apples on hers.

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