Kitchen Duty

‘Tis the season for cooking, baking, eating, celebrating, and more eating. And leftovers. With all of these wonderful festivities, comes cleaning. Yes – cleaning. The soaking and washing of dishes and dishrags, the vacuuming and mopping up of food crumbs everywhere, and the scrubbing of stove-top spillovers. The kitchen can get pretty messy this time of year. Especially the oven and refrigerator. So save yourself some grief and start off with a clean cooking headquarters before the holiday madness is in full swing.

Here’s how:

Reach for the top. You know. The top of your cabinets where you put “display” dishes and vases that probably have three years’ worth of layered dust on them. Get up there and take a rag, Windex and dust buster with you. Make it dust free so when you put some holiday decorations up there, it will be clean. And no dust or cobwebs will fall into your stuffing.

Clear your countertops! Figure out which appliances and chotchkies you don’t – and won’t – need during holiday prep time, and put them in a storage closet or pantry. This will give you more counter space for cooking, dicing and setting up. Give your countertops and the appliances you’re leaving on them a good wipe down.

Plan ahead. Make sure your pots, pans, serving bowls, utensils, silverware and Tupperware that you’ll be using during the season are clean ahead of time, so you don’t have to interrupt valuable cooking time to rinse them. Take time to sharpen your knife set as well, and ensure you have enough storage/freezer bags.

Give your stove and oven a good scrub down! You can do this before or after holiday cooking. Or both. Make a judgment call. If the inside of your oven is super grimy and has burnt food debris in it – then do it before. Ditto for your stove top. If you have a self-clean feature on your oven – use it. Take out the oven racks before you start, and clean them with steel wool pads and baking soda, comet, Dawn or another degreasing product (the same goes for the stove grates if you have a gas stove). Don’t leave racks in the oven while it’s self-cleaning. After a few hours the oven with be full of ash that you can quickly wipe out. And voila! Don’t have a self-cleaning oven? Spray some fume-free oven cleaner inside and let it sit for an hour or two with the oven door closed. Then use a little elbow grease and steel wool and scrub the tough spots and wipe clean with a wet rag and some paper towels. A clean oven makes for even cooking and no flavor spoiling!

Make room for leftovers! In other words, clean out your fridge and freezer. Ditch any old food, condiments, and anything else that has expired or is growing fuzz on it. Thoroughly wipe out your shelves and drawers with soap and water or a vinegar and water spray and sponge or paper towels. You’ll be surprised how much room you’ll have in there after you do this. Plus you’ll be able to see which products you need – and don’t need – to replace when you go to the store.

Don’t cause a pile-up. Clean while you cook, so you don’t have a hot mess in the kitchen that you’re too tired to clean afterwards. Wipe surfaces, load the dishwasher, wash and dry dishes, cutting boards, etc., and throw scraps away as you go. Get your kids, spouse or friend to lend a hand. Literally.

Pick up the pieces. Give your floor a sweep or vacuum and mop after you’re done cooking and cleaning surfaces. All those spices, crumbs, toppings, veggie buts and sticky spills end up under your feet and throughout the house if you don’t scoop them up.

Seal tight. Avoid messing everything up by making sure food you put away is sealed properly. Whether you’re using Zip Lock bags, glass or plastic storage containers or foil or plastic wrap to save your food, make sure it’s sealed tight so it doesn’t spill or stink up your clean fridge.

Cook, clean, eat, and repeat! And don’t forget to give thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s