Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barn Rules

Well, it has happened. I've missed my first every-other-Sunday posting deadline! I have been writing, but all I've got is about 5 topics in draft mode. What have I been writing about?  Rhubarb. Barn swallows. Kittens. Woodchucks. The quest for the perfect cup of coffee. Guests. Is it spring fever? More likely my brain is otherwise occupied with work (yes, my other job) on top of the regular coordination of laundry, preparing for guests, cleaning, baking, and having some fun time in between. All winter we make lists of projects, then good weather arrives and we have to cram it all in at once. We never sit down. And when we do, we fall asleep!

Here is some food for thought until I get my act together, that is, until I finish a story.  Someone gave me this list of BARN RULES right after we moved in, and I think they are as applicable to life as the Golden Rule:

If you open it, close it
If you turn it on, turn it off
If you unlock it, lock it
If you break it, admit it
If you can't fix it, call in someone who can
If you borrow it, return it
If you make a mess, clean it up
If you use it, take care of it
If you move it, put it back
If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it
If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone
If it is not broken, don't fix it
If it will brighten someone's day, say it
If you fall off, get back on.

There. I'm "back on" schedule.  See you in two weeks!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Country Kitchen

I confess:  I love cooking in a large country kitchen.  Our kitchen has 25 cupboards, 14 drawers, 2 closets, and 9 doors. It also has the original 1880's pantry, providing us with an additional 6 drawers, potato bin, large window, and 7 cupboards--one of which opens on both the pantry side and the dining room side. Very cool.

Both Kevin and I love to cook. He makes most of our meals and breakfast entrees, and I do most of the baking and dish washing. Getting adjusted to this large space was dizzying - literally - and we found ourselves walking in circles and frequently bumping into each other. Sharing the kitchen with your spouse can be pleasingly copacetic, kind of like synchronized swimming, with each having particular specialties, tasks, and timing.  But occasionally the order breaks down and it turns into a scene from Faulty Towers (...Basil!) or Hell's Kitchen (who moved the **bleeping** kitchen shears?). Fortunately, we figured out some things that work well for us, and may also work for you.  

Here's our list:
1) Never walk around the kitchen with a knife pointing outward.  This should seem like a no-brainer, but if your other kitchens were small, then you probably developed some habits that don't transfer into a large space. 
2) Keep all knives sharpened (a sharp knife is a safe knife) and store them in a slotted wooden knife tray in a drawer. Pasquale says "your knifa is lika your besta frienda and no one can hurt you lika your besta frienda."
3) Buy two free-standing paper towel holders so you always have one where and when you need it. 
4) Free yourself:  remove that annoying ring connecting your measuring spoons and cups. Buy a few sets of both and keep them inside the containers of those products you use most often like sugar, flour, popcorn, oatmeal, and pet food. The extras come in handy for multiple ingredient measuring as well.
5)  Keep the counter tops and flat surfaces clear of appliances and decorative items. Anything that does not get used every day does not belong on the counter.
6) Don't store anything in the cupboards above the stove. Ever.  
7) By all means, keep the kitchen shears IN THE KITCHEN and tools in the toolbox!

Another feature of our kitchen is a well-lit corner space next to the laundry room where I do the ironing. I love the feel of a starched napkin or pillowcase and so I toil to provide this small amenity. Last week I discovered I could make my own spray starch by mixing water and cornstarch, and, well, that just about made my day. Ask Kevin. I was giddy.

Of course, improvements can always be made to the current space. So what's on my wish list for our country kitchen?  It is not an automatic dishwasher - I actually enjoy hand-washing dishes. My dream kitchen would have the oven and the cook top as two separate units. Having to share the gas range causes some tense moments. Bing! There goes the timer. Sweetie, please step aside. I need to get into the oven NOW!!!