As the holiday entertaining season approaches, I find myself wishing the little kitchen at home was more like the kitchen at my work. But now that I think about it, they're approximately the same size (6'x6')...so what makes the professional so much more efficient and lovely to work in than the amateur?
- Clear Counters In my work kitchen, the only things on the counters are 3 utensil holders, 2 folded towels (1 to wipe up, 1 to handle hot pans) and whatever is currently being made. A quick survey of my home counters reveals 3 utensil holders, 3 wine glasses, 1 French press, 1 bowl of lemons & limes, 1 bowl of onions & garlic, a cutting board, the dish drainer, and my grocery list. This leaves approximately 1 square foot for baking. Insufficient!
- Accuracy At work we use digital timers (not my cell phone!) for bake times, thermometers in the oven to eliminate any guesswork, and scales to weigh all ingredients. All of these elements make you feel like things are going to turn out properly, but measuring ingredients by weight eliminates an enormous amount of dishes & mess. No more dirtying a bunch of measuring cups & spoons! Everything is weighed directly in the mixing vessel(s). In a tiny kitchen, less dishes will keep you sane.
- Organize by Popularity, Not Category My instinct is to group all my sweeteners together, but if I use agave everyday, it makes sense to keep it on the bottom shelf while the molasses, brown rice syrup, & brown sugar hang out on the top shelf. Having your most-used ingredients right at hand eliminates stress and searching.
- Constant Vigilance Not so much a function of kitchen design as a habit, being diligent about cleaning after every single step will make your life so much easier. Wiping down the counters frequently with hot water on a towel not only makes you feel professional, it provides a clean slate for each step in the process.
- Embrace The Work! Much of the fun of work derives from spending time with coworkers. At home, it's much more tempting to slack. If you can incorporate kitchen chores into pleasant, social activities (chatting with dinner guests, listening to music), you might not even notice you're getting things done. Maybe.
Image: Faith Durand & Emma Christensen; Salty Caramel blog, via The Kitchn