Saturday, March 9, 2013

Organizing Food Storage in My Kitchen - Part 3

Who ever said that pleasure wasn't functional?
~Charles Eames

Although there is no right and wrong in organizing a kitchen, there should be functionality. (Whew! My spellchecker says that really is a word!) Functionality differs according to the habit and purpose. Kitchens are the family centers of the home where the lifestyle of the family is highly evident.

To the right of the baking cabinet and the stove is the one that I use for cooking goods or just most used kinds of things that are in jars and cans. This is the cabinet opened the most often and here is where the bag of infested almonds had been placed, so you can image my embarrassment of tiny moths flying out every time it was opened! Also, some of the baking items were encroaching into the top shelf of this cabinet solely because things would get forced into the front pushing around other items without discretion. That is what happens when things are not organized and there is no specific place for the item.

One other thing I picked up from my perceptions of my aunt was not necessarily a good habit and it may not have been her nature, but when I lived with her we were in the middle of planning a large wedding for her oldest daughter and the next year my aunt was taking a full schedule at a technical college, so she was rather busy and she did not rearrange things much at all. So, at that time, it seemed to me that once she had determined a place for a thing or a use for a thing, it rarely changed. She was very efficient at fitting things just so and she had a place for everything, but some things had become inconvenient to our lifestyle at the time.

I am trying to identify things that work like mental barriers for me and change them so that they are inspirational and motivating. I started with the pantry because of the traffic it gets and the bags of pantry items on the floor that was a barrier to me, but also so that I could reorganize the highest traffic area, the kitchen. Also, I am trying to be open to see things more fluidly, as in nothing is set in stone. If something better comes along or there is a better use for something somewhere else, I want to be open and willing to change it.

The major change in this cabinet was that all the oils were on the top shelf and, as I wrote before, that is a stretch for me and I need a step stool unless the item was right in front. Now there were two reasons I placed them there when I first arranged my kitchen: one, was that the oil bottles were too tall to go under the half shelve insert so it just seemed practical to place them on the top shelf, and, two, I did not use oil very often then.

How often and how much I use oil and what kinds has changed. In part the change was based on newer research about the benefits of oils rich in Omega 3 ALA to counterbalance the too rich in Omega 6 Western diet, not a bad oil unless you get too much of it and not enough of the right Omega 3 to balance it. Omega 3 ALA, which converts to EPA and DHA, is high in canola oil. Also, for years we were told to avoid saturated fats, like coconut oil, but now research reveals that saturated fats are beneficial. I was never of the oil-free cooking mind set even when it was the rage in natural and conventional health, but I did use as little oil as possible. Armed with the knowledge of the later research on dietary oils and my husband's smaller paychecks for two years, I began making my own sourdough bread and I oil the pans usually with a canola oil spray. Also, I began making my own Omega 3 rich mayonnaise and ranch dressing. Both of these items are used heavily in our home, but rarely go on sale, while the oils go on sale at least two to three times a year.

Now when I think that I have been stretching or pulling over a step stool sometimes as many as five times times a day to get the oil I needed for the last four years, I realize how ridiculous that would seem to someone looking in from the outside. I really wanted to bring the oils down to the lower shelf, so I moved the shelf insert over instead of having it flush to the side of the cabinet. I moved the cat food down so it would be easier for the Princess to reach as feeding the cats has been one of her chores. I moved the beans from the top of the shelf insert to the top shelf so that I can see them, although I do not use them as often. The things that we used the most often or condiments that are refrigerated after opening are in the on the left.

I suppose it is silly, but just having those oils down on the lower shelf has given me much pleasure with its convenience. I used to have packets of mixes there, like a salad dressing and fajita mixes, but it just looked messy and I would have to look through them all to see how much I had of each one. I found another solution for them that works wonderfully...but if I gave all my secrets away at once, what fun would that be?

~ My Lord, I thank you that I am able to find pleasure in the little things. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.