Friday, April 16, 2010

what lies beneath

kitchen makeover!
okay, not really. in fact, i'm kind of dismayed that despite the fact that i just spent more than 3 hours* scouring and weeding through our entire kitchen (SAYONARA, expired soy sauce! BUH-BYE, BPA-ridden plastic!), i have no fantastic before and after photos to present.

there, doesn't that workspace look inviting?

that is because in our kitchen, the mess wasn't so obvious. instead, it was lurking beneath an innocuous-appearing exterior. the surface may have looked clear, but the underbelly was dark and ugly. utensils jumbled in overstuffed drawers, freezer stuffed to the gills with UFOs (unidentified food objects, of course), dented cans and rancid oils just waiting to cause a case of botulism on an unsuspecting chef -- really, our kitchen was a little out of control.

and while i don't think i really appreciated it, this mess and disorder was totally blocking my culinary chi. after all, is it really fun to sift through several questionable-looking bottles of vinegar before selecting one for a homemade dressing? an enjoyable challenge to find an ingredient as basic as flour among many piled and questionably-labelled plastic bags? is it exciting to really have to worry about an avalanche every time i open several of the overflowing cabinets?

no, my friends -- it is not. maybe some of you get your jollies playing cupboard roulette, but it just isn't for me. so: despite the fact that the visuals are unimpressive, i am immensely pleased with my new (old) kitchen!

here's what i mean: here's a before and after shot of our major nonperishable ingredients/snack cabinet, shown side by side.

the difference is barely appreciable to the naked eye! but believe me -- there is one.

hey, look what i found! i never use this. we registered for it for our wedding just because it seemed like everyone else did, but nearly 4 years later, i have yet to put it to use. um.

container cabinet, debrided of a lot of questionable plastic. also note: alphabetized spices!

a fridge devoid of expired items!? what a concept.

though my spring cleaning project has not exactly taken shape the way i planned, i'm still happy wiht the progress i have made so far! i actually feel like it's probably better NOT to rush this and instead to do a good job . . .

(and that probably applies to almost anything)

any areas of your living quarters that make you feel 'stuck'? and any plans to fix that? trust me, it does feel good!

* yes, i'm off for a half-day this AM! but don't be jealous, i'm working all weekend.



workout: none! i actually skipped both wednesday and thursday. i'm just going to call this a cutback week -- i think i needed one, for a number of reasons.

out of our (pre-makeover) kitchen: i love that when i google this recipe, jess's post comes up first! here's the book version, and jess's link contains her adaptation of the recipe (though i am not sure how it's possible, she doesn't like coconut!).

i made the recipe version except that i too subbed soy sauce (tamari) for shoyu sauce, and i used a combo of thai chili paste and curry powder to sub for the curry paste. had i cleaned a day earlier, i would have seen that in fact we do have a (nonexpired, even!) jar of red curry paste in the fridge. oh well. it was still good!
served with steamed broccoli for a bright color contrast and nutritional boost.

reading: FINISHED the required 2009 prep questions! holla.


  1. We have been married for 8 years and I haven't used the Kitchen Aid mixer yet! I hope it still works when I do dust it off one day!

  2. Anonymous11:47 AM

    my whole dorm room sometimes makes me feel "stuck". but then i rearrange a few items and feel better again. it's just refreshing to have a slight sense of "newness" to an area :)

  3. Found you through Gretchen Rubin and I admire everything you are able to get done in a day! Do yourself a favor, break out the mixer at least once this month! It really is amazing!

  4. Alphabetized spices? How does that work? A's in the front and Z's in the back? Or is it more of a left to right system? We put the spices we use the most in front and it's a free for all in the back. I need to do a kitchen makeover--our plastic containers are everywhere and the drawers are overflowing.

  5. denise: all right, we should heed melissa's advice & whip them out!

    melissa: thank you! it's not always all that smooth, though.

    katie: my mom always used to alphabetize them -- helped when i found myself wondering if we had something random like cardamom. but i could see how it might be annoying to have frequent flier spices piled back in coach :) i do have sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cayenne in a separate area since they are the 4 i use most!

  6. The one area I HATE is the wall behind our couch. We hung two pictures there when we first moved it, and at that time it fit fine with our furniture situation. Shortly after, we changed things around, and the pictures are no longer balanced over the couch. It drives me so crazy, but if we move the pictures to balance over the couch then we'll have some weird open wall space that needs to be filled and no idea what to put there. So there they hang, 18 months later.

    BTW- I couldn't handle alphabetized spices because I'd always be knocking things over to get to the cinnamon. You'll have to report back on how you like it.

  7. I like that term, "culinary chi." I shall incorporate it into my vocabulary:)
    It makes me smile to know that someone else alphabetizes her spice rack!

  8. Kathy L4:33 PM

    Found you through Gretchen Rubin's blog too. I love reading organized people's blogs! It is so inspiring. I am a married mom of three, working part-time, and doing my best to stay on top of everything- conversation with my husband, exercise time and me time included. Love how you balance a challenging work schedule and keep things simplified and organized. Keep blogging, please. If nothing else it is a great escape :)

  9. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Today on Kath's blog she mentioned getting reprimanded for posting about her internship on her blog. I wonder if there are concerns for you? I guess I hope not because I like all the areas you touch on in your blog.......just curious.

  10. Here I am dreaming of owning a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, drooling over Ina's and Giada's and YOU HAVE ONE IN YOUR PANTRY THAT HASN'T BEEN TOUCHED!??!?!?!??!????!??!!


  11. my bedroom is such a cluttered mess - but i guess that is what happens when you live with your boyfriend, AND two roommates in nyc. i feel like it totally disrupts any creative tendencies i might have when i'm at home.

    and i'm totally jealous of your kitchen aid mixer - cannot fathom how you haven't used it yet!

  12. anon: yes, reading kath's comment gave me some thought. but i do make it a point to never post any identifying patient info or many specifics about the things we deal with. i am not sure why they are SO strict with her -- there are lots of medblogs out there that go into an amount of detail that i get nervous about, but i hope i never even come close to the line . . .

    allie: uh oh i'm in trouble!!

    katie: and i guess i need to give that thing a try . . .

  13. You never use your Kitchen Aid? How sad!!!! I LOVE mine...I actually got it for Christmas my senior year in college (many people thought it was crazy that I ASKED for a mixer for Christmas!). And I, too, alphabetize my spices!

  14. My kitchen is the same way. The counters are nice and clean, but the cupboards are wild. It doesn't help that I have too much stuff for them. That recipe is so good!

  15. Anonymous12:26 AM

    what a beautiful dinner!!

    and you have totes inspired me to clean!! I just drank a bunch of caff because I thought I was going out, and now everyone canceled.......soo CLEANING TIME IT IS......maybe. :)

  16. I love any kitchen-related posts! I think the thing that would actually really help organize mine automatically would be pull out drawers in the cabinets. Whenever I reach into my pots and pans cabinet there's usually enough clattering noise and expletives from me to create a pretty poor culinary chi:)

  17. This recipe looks so yummy. I think it's going on my list of meals for next week.

  18. Sooooo know what you mean about kitchen chi. When you get gobloads of free products, they do start to pile up!! I LONG for a simple kitchen, Barefoot Contessa style with matching containers of bulk items. Someday!