Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zero Sink Rate

With a title like that, you might expect this to be about glider technology - I mean, gliders are pretty awesome, right? I know I'd love to try it. But no, this is about kitchen management, and the fact that a kitchen is a system in which cooking is only one part.

In my last post, I mentioned a tendency to get behind on cleaning up after meals, and the knock-on effects that had on future meals. That got me thinking, and I came up with some rules for myself to keep my kitchen more usable.

Rule 1: Making a meal includes cleaning up. If I have enough spoons to cook, but know that I will run out before I've cleaned up after it, I don't have enough spoons to make a meal. The easiest time to get pans clean is right after use; if I let them sit, I'm making work. I'm stealing spoons from myself and throwing them away. So the only valid reason for the pans from a meal not being cleaned up is the meal still going on, whether in active eating or conversation.

Rule 2: Thou shalt not soak. This one isn't quite rigid; if I screw up, there might be carbon that doesn't want to come off. That's acceptable, but I have to have made a genuine effort to remove it before resorting to soaking, and I MUST make a genuine effort to remove it each time I enter the kitchen until it's gone. The same goes for peanut butter jars (the LA loves it), which do require soaking to soften the peanut butter; but each time I enter the kitchen while one is soaking, I have to get it half-full with water and shake the dickens out of it to knock the tenacious stuff off the sides.

Rule 3: Drip-dry is fine. Sit dry is not. What this means is that once pans are dry, they should be put away at the first opportunity. That way, when the time comes to cook again, I know where they are. I don't have to waste spoons on remembering which pans are next to the sink and which are in the cupboard.

Rule 4: Load the dishwasher. The LA and I both have the bad habit of setting plates, glasses and the like on the counter rather than in the dishwasher. In the LA's case, it's because she knows I'm particular about how the dishwasher is loaded (engineer brain working out the optimal stacking for cat dishes, how to keep can covers restrained, and so on) but in my case it's purely and simply a bad habit. I'm aiming to break it.

Rule 5: Unload the Dishwasher. This is the automated version of Rule 3. In the dishwasher's case, it's fine to wait for it to cool down (attempting to remove a plate right after the cycle finishes will erase fingerprints, and hurts even my notably heat-resistant hands) but then, put stuff away rather than letting it sit.

I'm not necessarily doing well at following these rules - but I do want to let them guide my actions and decisions, and I want to make them public for anyone else who's having trouble with keeping their kitchen usable.

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