The kitchen is a retreat for me. The rest of the world slips away, and my head clears almost instantly. Last night I came home from work and baked a cake for a coworker's birthday. And I started thinking about how easily cooking and baking can become overwhelming and stressful for people.
Hence, my strategy aka the 123 method to a stressfree kitchen (yes, I just made that name up right now - catchy, isn't it?)
1. Read the entire recipe first. I am sometimes guilty of skipping this step, which means I get to the second page of the recipe and realize I needed to have a pot of water boiling 15 minutes ago.
2. Mise en place. This is just a fancy term for good prep work. If you are baking, you should measure all your ingredients and place them in separate bowls. If you are cooking, you should wash and chop your veggies and measure out any ingredients. It makes you feel very Martha Stewart in the kitchen, because you just whisk around tossing your premixed ingredients into pots and pans.
3. Clean as you go. I think the most exhausting thing is when you finish a beautiful meal and then turn around and face a filthy kitchen with piles of dishes. Instant buzzkill. My theory is that you should never be standing still in the kitchen. Wash dishes as you go along. There is always time. When you're baking, wash dishes and wipe counters while you cream the butter and sugar. If you're cooking, do it while your veggies saute or while your water boils. When I pop a finished dish in the oven, I immediately pull out the broom and sweep the floor. By the time I'm done in the kitchen, I have drying rack full of clean dishes, freshly scrubbed counters and a clean floor. It's like magic.
You also need to accept the fact that not every dish works out every time. It happens to absolutely everyone. In these instances, I recommend a large glass of wine and a good laugh. Sometimes that's really all there is to do.
Such good tips. I'm finally coming into my "zen kitchen" phase after years of post-cooking messes and disasters caused by not reading a recipe thoroughly (baking soda vs. baking powder, tbsp vs tsp). There's nothing nicer than sitting down with a glass of wine and a lovely meal, and knowing that an angry pile of dishes isn't resting in the sink.ReplyDelete
Good tips! Cleaning as I go is probably the most important part of my cooking routine. I can't stand mess, so if the kitchen is dirty, like you said, instant buzzkill.ReplyDelete
Great tips! I'm a big supporter of the clean kitchen as well. I just get so stressed with a big mess and it makes the whole experience negative. :)ReplyDelete
just reading this post got me calm and happy (and hungry). scanning the entire recipe before you begin is something i learned recently the hard way, but it's so necessary!ReplyDelete
Ahh, this is genius! Especially your #3 -- Part of me kind of enjoys the satisfaction of seeing all these piles of pans + bowls + mixing things... until reality sets in + cleaning must ensue :) But you're right, there always *is* time to do this as you go along -- sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to overlook :D!ReplyDelete
Love love this! Being in the kitchen hasn't been as pleasant of an experience for me since we moved and now have the teensiest coloumn called 'the kitchen'. But I do one day yearn for a wonderful kitchen as a retreat and a place for creativity :)ReplyDelete
i like your zen! i need to take a bit of it on board (i.e. tidy up more as i go) and as i love my kitchen and all things cooking-wise i shall endeavour to do so. great post. off to make our dinner now with renewed vows : )ReplyDelete
mmmmmmmmm I love cake. my oven is on the fritz and I'm about to go nuts.ReplyDelete
Thanks for posting this! Your creations always look so delicious. I need to remember to slow down a bit, and reading the whole recipe beforehand is such a good tip. Nothing like a fun surprise as you are halfway into it.ReplyDelete
And last week I tried a new crock pot cake recipe and burned it. I was disappointed, then I just scooped out the inside and it was still gooey and edible. Always learning in the kitchen. :)
I can't tell you how many times I've woken up to a sink full of dirty dishes because I didn't follow the rule "clean as you go"... Actually this morning was one of those times! Oops.ReplyDelete
i don't adhere to #2 because i find it takes less time (and less dishwashing) to chop and/or add things as i go, rather than prepping everything first.ReplyDelete
Fun post! I agree with you on these tips...until my husband joins me in the kitchen! I love cooking together with him but he's so messy that I'm trying to clean up after him the whole time too!ReplyDelete
I think I've learned all of these the hard way- but I'm definitely better off now. These really are good pieces of advice for anyone who likes the idea of cooking/baking, but just can't seem to tackle it.ReplyDelete
They've helped me- I love cooking dinner for my guy, especially when afterwards, we can just sit together and talk, not clean the kitchen!
Rachel, you are so wise. Somehow I feel like I could apply these rules to LIFE...ReplyDelete
Love love love it! Those are great rules for cooking and beyond. Thank you!ReplyDelete
You are very very clever. I try to do these things too, especially the reading the recipe in advance bit but I'm not very good at cleaning up as I go.ReplyDelete
this is perfection, lovely post. you've inspired me to cook tonight!ReplyDelete
i definitely need to get better at cleaning while cooking, but i usually plop down and face that disgusting kitchen after i eat! ooops. better luck tonight!ReplyDelete
If I stay busy and clean as I go, then all is well by the time the food/bakery items are done.
If I cook, eat and then leave it all for awhile after dinner, then I never feel like facing those dishes!
Mise en place has me feel sooo prepared and definitely like a pro chef! and a bit French too, always a good thing.
this is really great advice. thanks!ReplyDelete
love! this is advice is so usable. i love things that i will actually use. thank you, thank you.ReplyDelete
ps. your photos always have such a wholesome look to them. very natural-gorgeous, if you know what i mean. i just really like them.
couldn't agree more!ReplyDelete
As everyone said, fabulous tips! I am embarking on a "learning to love cooking again" adventure next week and this was a good piece to share. At the height of my cooking love, I did all of these things with gusto, but as my enthusiasm has waned, so has each of these tidbits. Thanks for the gentle reminder of the basics. I will post a link with my intro to the new project tonight.ReplyDelete
Word on #3! There are always bits of time btw tossing ingredients in the pan & waiting for them to soften/boil/mis...I am trying to do more of #2. Like Julia, I like to keep dishes at a minimum but I'm finding it feels great to grab my cute, rainbow-colored MS bowls as I go along. :)ReplyDelete
Also, ditto @ eastsidebride. I want a Zen life to go with my Zen kitchen.
These are great tips. That last one is my favorite. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
I follow all of these and it really does make a difference. Great tips!ReplyDelete
Great tips! I love the photos added into this post!ReplyDelete
So very true! Just tonight I was baking a pound cake and only realized the recipe called for two sticks of butter AFTER I put it in the oven (with only one). This is the biggest error I've made in quite awhile and I just had to chuckle. Thankfully there was a glass of champagne nearby that helped ease the pain :-)ReplyDelete
Wise words. I do all those things, except #2... I bring out all the ingredients & set them in a neat row in the counter, but I don't pre-measure them.ReplyDelete
Oh my gosh this made me smile I don't do any of these things, I constantly cook on the go, when I lived with my mum it drove her crazy! I kinda like living dangerously and am equally messy when it comes to sewing but I think i am starting to fully appreciate the value of reading the recipe first so ibthink you are right it's good to be organized!ReplyDelete
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The kitchen seems to be a very stressful place for me, and I need all of the tips & encouragement I can get!ReplyDelete
i work in a cafe and when i'm in work i obey all these rules and always, always prep everything! but at home i get so lazy. i really need to obey these rules.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this post. I needed that!ReplyDelete
Awesome tips! I'm bad at remembering the first 2 tips [trying to work on that], but I always clean as I go. My husband, on the other hand, is a super cooking machine, but he *never* cleans while he's in there.. and then the kitchen is left in a terrible mess which I have to clean up (if I want it cleaned at all).ReplyDelete
awesome tips - i will have to become friendly in the kitchen again!ReplyDelete
So true Rachel, especially about the fact that not every dish works and to just chalk it down to experience and have a glass of wine! Also super important to clean as you go- such a nice feeling!ReplyDelete
Hi! How do you make sure that the layers in your layer cake come out even like the beautiful ones in the picture? I made a layer cake recently and both layers sunk so badly in the middle...do you know how can I prevent this??ReplyDelete