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Confessions of a Kitchenazi

Clean Glasses

Okay, so I started my New Year’s Resolutions a bit early; why wait? Besides, it was only a test run, to see if I liked it.

And I did.

I started keeping the kitchen scrupulously clean. That turned out to be a bigger challenge than I thought when I started. Years of bad habits are hard to unlearn. I stuck to my guns, though, and eventually I learned how to work in the kitchen and clean as I went. Including loading the dishwasher, putting everything away (spices, dishes from the previous load, boxes and bags of ingredients; the list goes on), and finishing the cooking without destroying the grub.

Once we finished the meal, all we have to do is put the dirties in the scrubbox, turn it on, and wipe down the counters.

That, and listen to my daughter complain I’d become the poster boy for Kitchenazis the world over.

It hurt, for a while. But the nice feeling of waking up to a clean kitchen was worth it. Besides, I could always send my kid away to boarding school. (I did; she starts her new college semester today.)

Here are some other gains I’ve noticed from the effort:

Kitchen FruitIt takes a lot less effort to pull together a meal. No stumbling around the mess and stacked junque to find what I need; no pushing aside stuff to get at what I want; no wasted effort. This last point is one that’s often overlooked. Cleaning as you go isn’t additional work; it’ll have to be done, sooner or later. And really, there’s no “economy of scale” to stacking up grubby dishes.

We use less dishes, so I can actually clean out cupboards, cabinets and drawers and thin out the supply. I found some useful tools I’d completely forgotten about from that effort. And there’s space to consider getting the colorful plates and bowls I saw during the Holiday shopping madness; I hear they’re on clearance now.

Meals are more complete, and we’re eating fast-food a lot less. Okay, that was one of my other resolutions, but still; we learned that one reason we ate quick meals from the local Grab, Run and Choke outlets was because we were tired and we knew the kitchen needed a major cleaning before we could even consider cooking. I knew we were in trouble when I looked at the thirty-one pickup numbers I had on speed dial on my cell phone. Only three could really be called restaurants. (I’ve decided not to call fast-food outlets by that fancy name. A third resolution!)

One last point: We’re saving money. We don’t throw away stuff we “forgot” and left out to spoil. Leftovers now become tasty lunches, saving bucks and time. We’re using up all our fresh ingredients, stretching our cash-strapped food budget. Heck, we might even have to withdraw our emergency petition for Federal aid.

Now all we have to do is make it a habit. Researchers say it takes at least three weeks for something new to become a habit. Guess what? When you’re unlearning decades of bad practices at the same time, it takes a Lot Longer. We’ve been working on this one since mid-November, and it still feels strange.

It also feels really nice.

Hey! Who left that dirty glass on the counter? And what’s this? A speck of pepper on the stovetop?? I guess I better let you all get on with your work, and go whip those slackers into shape get the kitchen back to proper order…

Enjoy the (Fresh, Clean, Thrifty) Heat!

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