The Kitchen: Where it Happens

Any expert would agree that the bedroom is a place that should generally remain clutter-free, littered only with items and details that express who you are as a person. It’s where you start and end the day, and often times it affects your mood for all the time in between. Waking up having to scour through a jungle of clothes and piles of old magazines was never considered a therapeutic experience; going through such a minefield again when tired and beaten after a long day isn’t exactly ideal either.

Similarly, the kitchen is where the most important meals of the day are had, where entertaining is done, and where food is prepared. Neither your bedroom nor the kitchen should be treated as a storage facility. Not only does it affect one’s ability to relax and familiarize themselves with their environment, but it also makes an opportunity for accidents, and worse, both can be health hazards.For any cook, from a simple man scraping by in a small studio, to a celebrated five-star chef, the kitchen should be considered sacred, and treated accordingly.


Maintaining the Kitchen

First thing’s first. When having a kitchen it’s a good idea to check the framework of it all. Be sure to check for any exposed hazards such as damaged outlets or gas leaks. They may seem inconsequential, but on occasion fatal accidents can occur because of a seemingly benign flaw. While this is a problem that typically crops up in older homes, it wouldn’t hurt to check around a newer building either. The reason professionals are professionals is because of the mistakes they’ve made, not the successes they’ve accumulated. Errors can still happen, however rare they may be.

Something important that you can check yourself are the water pipes. Take a wrench or similar instrument and gently tap along the surface of the pipes, checking for any leaks or breakage. Besides the obvious flooding that could happen with a broken pipe, even a break that doesn’t release water can be detrimental. Humidity in the space is altered and can also change the taste of the food being prepared, especially if it goes on over time. So if you’ve been following a recipe to the T many times and it never comes out right, this could be the culprit.


The Counter

This next thing to watch out for is something that my mother is especially guilty of: keeping the counters clutter-free. When she and I are in the same house I don’t care how many purses she has, paperwork her job wants done, or mail there’s been over the course of the month; the counter is NOT a display case. There’s no telling where all these items have even been or what they’ve touched; ask yourself if you really want to be cooking on a counter with something that could have potentially rested on the floor of the bathroom in a questionable gas station.

The rule I follow is to clean the counter thoroughly with disinfecting chemicals twice a month, but every time I cook I clean it as well with hot, boiling water. The heat kills the bacteria and there is no worry over any streaks that could be made like with a greasy cleaner. However you clean your counter is your business, but be sure to do it regularly, if not after every use. What you prepare on it is what goes into your mouth; the counter should be treated as well as you’d want to treat your own health.


The Dishes

Okay, I confess, I’m at fault when it comes to not always immediately cleaning my dishes. What I do end up doing is filling them with hot soapy water, and letting them soak (this can be a good thing, especially after eating something that sticks and dries very quickly), although I’m careful not to leave them like that for ever a 24-hour period. Germs can accumulateeven in soapy water, and many times the sink is just as crucial in cooking as is the oven or stove.

If you don’t believe me then just think about all the times you’ve had to rinse out utensils, pots, pans, boards and bowls over the course of one cooking session, or how frequently you have to wash fruits, vegetables, or any other ingredient before using it, or even how many times you have to wash your hands before going to work on your latest masterpiece. While you might not have to keep your sink as meticulously clean as your counters, at bare minimum, make sure it’s empty more often than not. It’s a labor of discipline more than anything else, but one worth doing.


The Oven and Stove

I’ve found that over the course of the years, the oven and stove, the very foundation upon which the kitchen is built, are the most frustrating appliances to keep clean. If I had a coin for every time something spilled on one of these things, I’d probably have a maid to take care of them for me.

At least I can dream.

The best way to keep these things clean, annoying as it may be, is to take a clean, wet rag, and wipe the spill while it’s still hot. Of course this doesn’t solve all our problems, but it’s a good a start as any. The biggest pains are whatever falls around the burners or beneath the heating coils. Wait until those are relatively cool (turned OFF –I can’t tell you how many people make that mistake) and again with a cold rag, clean it. If a stain or crust persists, then take out a stronger cleaning solution, and while not necessary, do try to turn off any gas or electricity that goes to these appliances to prevent unnecessary injuries.

That being said, while your kitchen doesn’t have to be Martha Stewart grade, these are the main points to keep up with. Making the food is only as important as the surface its assembled on.

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