Monday, March 15, 2010

And I'm Spent...Kitchen Cure Cramming

True to form, I left everything until the 3rd week of the Kitchen Cure program.  Hey, I had things to do!  Like plan the demise of my partner's ex-wife (meeeooooowww...), create a newsletter from scratch, start another blog, and keep up with my classes.

True to form, though, I am up to speed with the program, and my kitchen is the cleanest and most organized it's been in...geez, I can't remember when.  Most of my friends know me as crazy disorganized, but when I clean...I CLEAN.  The problem is that I set such high standards for myself that it takes a lot of energy to get things to where I'm satisfied, so I don't even begin.  Why start if you're going to do a half-assed job?  This weekend, though, I had had enough!

Since we fired our last housekeeper on Thursday, I've had the freedom and space to tear up the place and put it back together again. I just can't do that with someone around. I really go mental. So, starting at 8 a.m. last Friday, I popped in the soundtrack of Boogie Nights (one of my all-time favorite movies that happens to have one of the kickin'-est soundtracks ever) and started slaving away until Sunday afternoon. (Apologies to Marcelo for waking him up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning with my can-throwing, backdoor-slamming, and k.d. lang-playing.  I'm telling you.  I get obsessed.)

About a year ago, I had started labeling all the shelves to try to keep everything organized. The upper shelf is all ethnic. You got your Pinoy shrimp fry, miso, mango sauce going on up there.  Lord knows what else was in there.  Then on the lower shelf, I had my canned and whole beans with some canned tomatoes.  These shelving units are so deep that it's easy to lose stuff back there. 

Our placemats and napkins drawer.  From hell.  Why do we even need freaking placemats when we use a tablecloth?   Just seems pointless to me. I never grew up with placemats, and turned out alright. 

Again: From. Hell.  I had purged this drawer a year ago, but there's just too much stuff. 

Under the sink. 

Cupboard under the oven.  Pastas, canned fish, and some sort of canned, fake juice syrup for making alcoholic drinks that we never used, different grains from who knows when, noodles. There were some teeny black bugs lying dead around a thing of white rice. They had gotten in there and had basically pulverized every grain.  SO GROSS.  (And the 3 empleada domesticas that we've had never opened this bottom cupboard, so who's left to do it?  Me! Why are we paying these people to do something I could do myself?  But Marcelo needs his housekeeper EVERYDAY.  I just don't get it.)  Anyway,  I unearthed some groovy, circa 70's, ceramic cannisters though.  I was all over those.

I can't even begin to tell you how many grocery bags full of half-used or expired food products I threw out.  It just made me sad and ashamed to see all of that go straight into the garbage.  What was I thinking?  Problem was that the cupboards and spaces were just full of disorganized crap that I couldn't see anything. And because I couldn't see anything, I kept buying stuff.  Like, I had like 3 packets of ground ginger, 4 bottles of apple cider vinegar, and 3 bottles of mirin.  WTF?!  Look at this horror...

One of the MANY plastic shopping bags of stuff I threw away.  Dried mangoes from the Philippines (totally way expired) and a box of See's Peanut Brittle were among the nixed.  SEE'S!!!!  It's a crime, I tell you.  When you start throwing away the See's, it's the beginning of the end.

My kitchen in the middle of the purge...Doesn't look to disasterous, but I guess you can't see the stuff strewn all over the floor where I was standing taking this pic.

Here come the "after" pictures:
Just down to the essentials...

These are two areas I think I still need to work on, but they're a lot better than what they were.  I pulled out the utensils I use all the time, and put them in one of the groovy ceramic containers that I placed on top of the stove.  They're easier to get to now.  

The middle shelf is where we keep all our teas. That plastic container is a little bit of an eyesore, but it does keep all our miscellaneous tea bags in one place.  It works for right now.  I REALLY need to stop buying cookbooks, though.  Half of those books are mine...the pretty, big ones to the left. 

The former Asian section now holds a lone bottle of oyster sauce (too tall for anywhere else) and 2 things of pasta.  Bottom is all my canned fish, canned tomatoes, and ethnic sauces. 

Under the oven!  Serving platters and stuff we use once in a while:

Remember how the only thing that was organized in this cupboard was the alcohol?  Now lookie!  All my nut butters together, chocolate front-and-center in case of emergency, energy bars in a container...

Silverware drawer.  Even Marcelo contributed by replacing all the crappy silverware with the nicer stuff we had stored. And then he went back to watch soccer.  I appreciated the contribution, though!

This is my favorite part of the whole job.  The vintage cannisters are right in the middle.  So very Marcia Brady with it's floral theme in brown, orange, and lime green.  They coordinate with all the spices and beans, too!  I got the spices all labeled and almost all matching.  I like the idea of having containers that don't match and are all funky, but if I look at it everyday, I know it's going to drive me crazy.  I'll see the containers and not the stuff I need. Plus having them displayed and labled like this makes me feel and look like I'm a cook, like I absolutely need to have ALL my spices organized for when I whip something fabulous up with 1 ingredient.   

The last part of the Kitchen Cure is just to beautify.  I've got plans to paint an accent wall to bring some life to the otherwise non-existent kitchen decor. Maybe a funky yellow or even a crazy orange. 

Important lessons I learned:
1) Keep things organized (so you...)
2) Don't buy doubles of things
3) Only buy when necessary
4) Eat what you got (man, I made so many freaking smoothies trying to use up all my veggies and fruits...Healthy, though!)

Good program.  I'm really glad I did it!  I'm going to tackle my office again!

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