Maggy Button: Time to tidy up the kitchen?


While surfing the Internet for an unrelated topic, I ran across a site on organizing a kitchen. When we moved back into our house five years ago after a major rebuild, the last thing I thought about was organizing my pantry and kitchen cupboards. All I wanted to do is get everything out of the boxes and out of sight.

The pantry was fairly easy. There are four shelves that slide out, and I decided to put baking supplies on the bottom shelf since they were used less often than other food items. I put the canned food on the next shelf up, the boxes of food on the third shelf and everything that came in pouches, cellophane or plastic bags and bags of coffee were put on the top shelf.

And there the organization ended. I still have the drawer in the kitchen where the construction crew threw leftover materials and the warrantees for all the new appliances and furnishings. It also has assorted nails, screws and hardware, plastic racks that may or may not go in our dishwasher (if they do, I have no idea where or what they are for) and cables I have no idea what they are for -- or from.

I also have a junk drawer, where all the things I don’t know what to do with land. The beer-can chicken rack resides alongside with the birthday candles, extra batteries, potato masher, electrical tape and two flashlights.

OK, I need help, so I read the tips offered:

n Remove everything from your cabinets. Take out every last bit of kitchenware -- your plates, glasses, mugs, pots, pans and anything else you have stored in your cabinets. Lay everything out on your kitchen table so you can assess what you’ve got and what you need. (OK, right away I have major problem -- I don’t have a kitchen table.)

n Decide what you can do without. (But if I don’t know what things are, how do I know if I might need them? And if I get rid of them, I’ll probably need it somewhere down the line and have to buy it again.)

n Clean the cabinets from top to bottom. Cleaning your cabinets thoroughly will prevent bugs from taking up residence and keep your kitchen items fresh. (That last part is enough to make my skin crawl Š and reach for the cleaning supplies.)

n Line the cabinets with paper or cork linings. (I have tried over the years to line the cupboards -- I have failed miserably with contact paper, plain paper and wallpaper. Can cork be my

n Place sachets in the corners to keep your cabinets fresh. Pick out a few of your favorite dried herbs and spices, such as lavender, rose petals or cinnamon sticks. (Do we really need our dinnerware and other kitchenware to smell like lavender or roses? My linen closet, maybe.)

n Buy organizers for smaller kitchen items. If you have a lot of little kitchen gadgets, they can help to reduce clutter and keep things in their place. (I have one in every drawer and it’s not working ... like the afore-mentioned potato masher that doesn’t fit in any them.)

n Lay out the items you plan to store. Group your glassware together, including water glasses, juice glasses and other everyday glasses.

Group your stemware together, including wine and champagne glasses. You might also want to store tumblers in the same space.

Group your plates and bowls. Many people stack their salad plates on top of their dinner plates to save a little space. Group your bowls together as well.

Separate fine china and seasonal items.

(Oh my gosh! I actually have no problem with this tip! We have a pool and most of our "glassware" is plastic that we use every day. Plus, I don’t have any juice or champagne glasses -- and our tumblers and water glasses are one and the same. Not only that -- my fine china (inherited from my mom along with her fine crystal) is neatly stored in the dining room buffet. Score one organization point for me!)

n Place dishes you use most often in accessible cabinets. You probably want to choose a cabinet that is located over the counter, rather than below it, so you won’t have to bend over to reach the dishes you need most often. (Another point for me! And a bonus point because the dishes are stored in a cabinet directly over the dishwasher!)

n Store fine china and fragile items higher up. Upper cabinets or top shelves of cabinets are the place to store items you want to keep safe. (Not that safe -- I’ve dropped many items that were stored on a top shelf.)

n Stack pots and pans in lower cabinets near the stove. (Another point for the home team! Plus, my baking pans are stored in the drawer under the oven.)

n Organize utensils in a flat utensil drawer. Place your utensil organizer in one of the wide, flat kitchen drawers that is most easily accessible. Arrange your utensils so that the forks, spoons and knives are each kept separate. (I would take another point, but the credit goes to the contractor, who installed a built-in drawer for utensils. I merely filled it.)

I gave up the idea of reorganizing the kitchen after reading the list, I have better things to do, like bake a cranberry coffee cake that came from a collection of recipes from my sister-in-law, Julie’s, mother, the late Julia Merrell, formerly of Pittsfield.

Now where the heck did I put the measuring spoons ...

Cranberry Swirl Coffee Cake

1/2 cup margarine

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 pint sour cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 8-ounce can whole cranberry sauce

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream margarine and sugar. Add unbeaten eggs. Mix together dry ingredients alternately with sour cream. Add flavoring. Grease an 8-inch bundt pan. Put a layer of batter in the bottom of the pan, then scatter a layer of cranberries (1/3 of the can). Swirl with a knife. Repeat batter, cranberries, swirl batter, then remaining cranberries on top. Swirl and cover with nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.


3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

Add warm water so topping will drizzle from spoon. Pour over warm cake.


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