I know there is no judging here at Mary's Kitchen but I have to ask, Dear Reader, are you a "Dirty Cook" or a "Clean Cook?"
Growing up in a Greek household, as I did, means one thing, cleanliness. The Greeks really do believe 'cleanliness is next to Godliness.' My mother, Ellen, taught me, as her mother, Mary, taught her and her mother, Ellen, mother taught her, 'clean as you go.' Running and keeping a clean, tidy and well organized kitchen makes me a better and happier cook. I will not or cannot cook in a dirty, disorganized kitchen. This fact is not just because, as all chefs, I am a control freak, it is because I can neither concentrate nor have fun in a dirty, disorganized kitchen space. My kitchen is definitely lived in but it is clean and well organized.
See the picture above? Does your kitchen, or someone you love, have a kitchen that looks like this? My head would explode! I look at this kitchen and think, 'AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!' The only good thing about this messy kitchen? The homicide detectives would never find any evidence of the murder I would inevitably commit if I walked into this kind of mess at the end of a busy day! My husband, Russell, is a dirty cook. He very rarely cooks any meals and I'm always a little anxious when he does. My fuse is VERY short when it comes to my own kitchen being dirty. I check surfaces and such and if there are dishes about, I am not very happy... It is my kitchen and on occasion, I loan it out to other members of our family so they need to return to me the way they found it. That's fair and reasonable, right? Well, even if it's not, it's my kitchen and NO judging!
See this photo to the right? I look at this and, although it's sterile, I think 'ahhhhhhh...' I wanna do me some cook'n in there! I could concentrate in this space and create!
Most of our kitchens fall somewhere in-between these two images.
Some of you, Dear Readers, grew up never having had anyone in your life who cooks. Maybe your mother or father worked all the time or were too ill to prepare food at home so most of your meals consisted of ready made foods or take out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! My childhood had elements of that too after my parents divorced and my mother began to work full-time. My mother cooked on weekends. She made lasagna, manicotti, keftedes and vudalikia (both Greek dishes.) My two brothers and I ate all week from the food she made all weekend. Each Friday night, she grocery shopped and then Saturdays she cleaned and Sundays, she cooked. I helped her during the week by keeping our house tidy, doing laundry and re-warming the foods she made so dinner would be ready when she got home. Sometimes, I roasted the chickens she prepped too. I was happy to help and the food she cooked kept eating semi-normal for us kids after the divorce. She and I would also cook together. She never "taught" me how to cook but she taught me about cooking. I watched and took in what she did. She always cleaned as she cooked. I am just like her. I can make food for an army and no-one would ever know I've set a toenail in the kitchen! It's satisfying and I am proud of how clean I am in the kitchen. I've passed the 'clean as you go' cooking technique along to our daughters too.
IF you are a dirty cook, what steps could you take to begin to become a clean cook? Baby steps as the saying goes. Like most things, being a clean cook is a skill and as such, that means it can be taught! YAY!
Here are some steps to follow that will help you down the path of becoming a clean(er) cook:
1. Put an ingredient away as soon as you are done using it, always. I mean, always!
2. Clean the dish or equipment you used to cook in/with BEFORE you sit down to eat. Yep, always.
3. Clean the surfaces you cooked on as you cook. (This means, keep a soapy cloth available and wipe the stove/counter or whatever as you cook, so you don't have a splattery mess to deal with.)
4. Cover foods you place in the microwave BEFORE you microwave them! Yep, always! (Purchase some waxed or parchment paper and keep it in the microwave until you develop this habit.)
If you have any tips for how you stay (or become) a clean cook or how you are learning to be a clean cook, please share them in the comments section.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor