DEEP-CLEANING THE KITCHEN is my late-summer, “back-to-school” ritual. I empty every cabinet and drawer, and then ruthlessly toss the things I don’t want, need, use, or have room for. Here, for instance, is how I recently cleaned an unkempt cabinet, and turned it into a well-organized “Baking Center”:
The cabinet in question. The doors and shelves are original to this 19th century house, while the backs and sides were built 12 years ago by a local carpenter. Shall we have a peek inside?
Handling each item, I asked myself the following four questions:
Do I want it?
Do I need it?
Do I use it?
Do I have room for it?
Out went the small remnants of “specialty” flours, and bottles of various condiments I will never use. I also chucked several bottles of wine that had been opened, sipped, re-corked, and forgotten. And did I really need a package of cupcake wrappers when I so rarely make cupcakes? I gave the wrappers away.
The good booze was transferred to the “good booze” cabinet in my pantry. (I now have room for all kinds of things in the pantry, because I recently deep-cleaned it.) The gin hopped into the freezer, where it rightfully belongs.
How the supplies are organized:
Tip: Never store baking powder over a stove. The heat will render it inactive in very short order.
On the top shelf, which is only accessible when one is standing on a chair, are the less-frequently used baking supplies, plus an extra bag of granulated sugar. The boxes of cake flour are labeled in big print just to catch my attention.
No more hunting for the vanilla! On the lowest level of the second cabinet, I contained all of my extracts in a long blue tray, along with the packets of unflavored gelatin I use for Panna Cotta. Also close at hand are the bags of almonds and dried fruit that I use for granola. The tub labeled “well-baked beans” contains the “pie weights” I use when blind-baking tart shells and other crusts.
Of course, these aren’t the total sum of my baking arsenal. I store a small ramekin of kosher salt in the top drawer of my work station, and myriad jars of herbs and spices in a nearby cabinet.
And speaking of herbs and spices! It’s hard to find room for these, especially if you keep acquiring them, as I do. If you have a tidy herb-and-spice storage solution, by all means talk to me in the comments field below.
Well, I hope this post was of some little value to you, and that you feel empowered to deep clean your own kitchen cabinets and drawers. After all, cooking is much more fun when you can easily grab the ingredients you need!
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