Saturday, May 29, 2010

The heart of a home, is the kitchen!

Up until relatively recently in history, the hearth was the focal point of a household. If you take away the "h" at the end of the word, you are left with "heart." It was literally the heart of the abode. The hearth was the most important feature of a home, for many reasons. It was a place to prepare and cook food, and a source of warmth. It was also a source of hot water for sanitation, and a source of soft lighting in the evening-- ideal for finishing up a bit of knitting, or reading a book. We now assign most of these tasks to our modern kitchens. A bright, cheery kitchen will quickly become the focal point of your place. Aside from being a place to prepare and serve food, it is also frequently used as a gathering point for company, and as a workspace for other household duties and hobbies.

My personal favourite part of setting up a new homestead, is making the new kitchen ready for action! A clean, functional kitchen is the most important element of having a comfortable and happy home! It can take many years of trial and error, if done on your own...but I am here to help you!

"Implements of construction and destruction"

First of all, you will need cookware, cutlery, dishes, glassware, etc. All of these items are readily (and cheaply) available at your local dollar or pound (or whatever currency your country of origin uses) store. You can also find a large selection of these things at any thrift store (Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, etc.). Depending upon the amount of family/household members, you will want more or less of each.

To start with, figure upon buying two serving platters (chargers) and place settings, for each person. Two dinner plates, two salad/dessert plates, two cereal bowls, two tumblers, two coffee mugs, two butter and steak knives, two salad and dinner forks, two teaspoons and tablespoons-- you get the idea. This should give you plenty of ware, with which to serve and eat your meals. Be sure to buy stoneware that is microwave safe! There are many pretty patterns, that are just as nice as fine china.

You will need one good set of kitchen knives, in a knife block. Most sets consist of a large chef's knife, a bread knife, a paring knife, and a carving knife. Some even come with kitchen shears. To be honest, I prefer the serrated "Ginsu"-type knives, over straight blades. They seem to last longer, and don't require sharpening (which requires a bit of skill).

You'll be needing a good set of canisters with lids, for storing your flour, sugar, grains, pasta, coffee, etc., and keeping those things fresh and bug-free. Buy as many as you need, for the most common staples you keep around. I suggest at least six or seven. If you end up with extra, you will use them, eventually! Trust me!

As for cookware, you will need one dutch oven, two stock pots (one large, one small), two large skillets (I prefer cast iron), two small frying pans, two large saucepans (with lids), two small saucepans (with lids), four microwaveable casseroles with lids, two cookie sheets (one large, one small), two loaf pans, one 12-muffin pan (or two six-muffin pans), a set of liquid measuring cups (preferably Pyrex), a set of dry measuring cups, a set of metal or plastic measuring spoons, two large mixing bowls, two small mixing bowls, a colander, two meat platters (preferably with a juice channel), a large microwavable teapot, a tea kettle, an automatic coffee maker, an electric crock pot, one large and one small cutting board, three or more serving spatulas, three or more mixing spatulas, two or more large serving spoons, one serving fork, a potato masher, one large and one small balloon whisk, a can opener, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, an ice cream scoop, a rubber or silicone jar opener, four or more hot pads, and four or more trivets. This is all the stuff that you might need eventually, even if you don't think so, at first! You can thank me later.

You will also need food storage items. Gone are the days of buying expensive Tupperware! Hefty Serve n' Store and Gladware containers are very inexpensive, and last for many uses, if properly cleaned and taken care of. You will want to buy a good assortment of these, in different shapes and sizes, to dedicate to each purpose. You will also need plastic zipper baggies, (gallon and quart sizes), plastic sandwich baggies, aluminium foil (heavy duty is best), plastic wrap, and wax paper. These things are important, for properly storing leftovers, and freezing foods for later use.

You will need items for disposal of household waste. A kitchen waste bin with a lid (13 gallon capacity), a larger outdoor rubbish bin with a locking lid (30 gallon capacity), and 13 and 30 gallon rubbish bags.

Now, for things to keep your kitchen (and you) clean! You will need a large bucket or pail, a sponge roller or rag mop, a dishpan, at least five heavy-duty dishrags, at least five hand towels, three or more tea towels, a bottle of concentrated liquid dish soap, a box or bottle of dishwasher powder or liquid (if you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher), a dish mop, a box of Brillo or Chore Boy pads (steel and copper wool), four or more heavy-duty kitchen sponges, a container of scratch-free cleaning powder (such as Comet or Bon Ami), a bottle of kitchen degreaser (such as Orange Glo), a bottle of disinfectant cleaner spray (such as Clorox Disinfectant), a gallon of chlorine bleach, a can of Lysol (or similar product) disinfectant spray, a bottle of streak-free glass cleaner (such as Windex), two large rolls of paper towel (I usually keep one roll of heavy-duty, and one of regular strength), and a bit of moxie!

Last but not least, you will need a comfortable dining table and chairs. There are many places to buy these things new and relatively inexpensively, such as IKEA. You may also want to look for a vintage set, by way of your local classified ads, or at the local thrift store. You will want a table cloth, with which to cover your dining space. Choose one of the correct size and shape, to fit your table. You should also have at least two sets of place mats, two for each person in your household. These are easy to toss into the washing machine if they become soiled, and better than having to wash your tablecloth after each meal. Lastly, you will need at least two sets of cloth napkins-- enough to have two for each person who'll be seated. These are much more economical and earth-friendly, than using paper throwaways!

There! Now you have everything you'll be needing, to get your kitchen in working order! In my next blog entry, I will be discussing how to properly stock your pantry, refrigerator, and deep freeze. I think we've done enough, for now! Let's have a sit-down, and enjoy a nice cup of tea....

Next entry, we will be plotting pantries, filling fridges, and freezing foods! Keep checking back, dear readers!

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