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Verses from my Kitchen: Kitchen 411

September 9, 2010

Kitchen 411

Inventory. Check. Grocery shopping. Check.  Do you rush home and empty the bags as quickly as you can and toss the food in the pantry, fridge and freezer? Do you look inside the freezer and can't make out the meat due to the freezer burn? There's a better way, and it doesn't take all day.

First, let's break down the areas of your kitchen that matter most before you start cooking. You have your pantry, fridge and crispers and freezer. Three spots to organize and properly show what you have in stock. When it's time to make something it should be easy to see exactly what options you have. Staying organized in these areas immediately answers the question "What's for dinner tonight?"
My fridge.

The pantry should house all your pasta, canned goods, flour, oils and spices. The pantry should be organized for two reasons.  One, the ability to see exactly what's inside and the ingredients you need to make a meal. Two, when you've run clear of something it should create an empty space which notifies you that it's time pick it up at the market. This part sounds a little much but it's important to have everything facing you. Cans, spice jars, boxes and packages. It takes a second and it saves you time in the future.
Half of my pantry. I keep my oils and vinegars in a lower shelf.
The fridge stores every thing that's fresh and tasty in your house.  The first thing I do when I get home from the market is clean the fridge. It takes five minutes. I move items over and wipe the shelves clean. I empty out the crispers and wipe them down. Now I'm starting with a blank slate.  I can properly add my market buys and load the older produce on top or up front so I use it first. 

The idea is to stock your fridge with fresh, seasonal goods and nothing beats a fridge that is loaded with super fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and sauces or a crisper filled with leeks, celery, carrots, yellow-flesh Ontario potatoes and seasonal fruits. When I look inside my crispers I feel inspired by what's in front of me. Trust me. And I'm eager to get started on my next meal.
Fresh leeks, carrots, celery and onions and apples, nectarines and so much more!

The freezer is so important for keeping meat frozen and ready to use a near-future date. Nothing is worse that opening up someone's freezer and seeing nameless meat covered in freezer burn.  If you can't remember what the food is and when it was first frozen, toss it. You have a good 30 days to freeze steaks, vegetables and sauces before it will begin to dehydrate. Don't believe me? That crystallized moisture on the inside of your freezer bag used to be inside your meat. Still want to defrost and eat it?

Meat freezes the same way, for the most part. It is also expensive so just throwing your lamp chops inside a freezer bag or on the Styrofoam tray it comes on is the same as throwing away money. You will flat-out ruin them.  I triple-wrap my pork, chicken, beef, etc. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort. I get all my meat from the market ready and I pull out my plastic wrap, aluminum foil and freezer bag. Three simple steps to freeze your meat. 1. Tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. 2. Wrap it again in a layer of foil and label the foil with the type of meat, the number of portions and the date. 3. Place the wrapped meat in a resealable freezer bag.  Put it in your freezer and put it in rotation.

Frozen and dated chorizo, chicken, ground meat and pork tenderloin.

When it comes to stocks and sauces it takes a few minutes as well. I try to make stock once every 6 weeks and I can use it  for soups, risotto and braising liquid. I keep sauces frozen as well for quick meals in the future, meals filled with flavour. Here's how you do it. Label the outside of your freezer bag with the date and the type of stock or sauce. Grab a large mug or medium bowl and place a plastic bag inside of it and fold the opening of the bag back over the rim. Fill the bags 3/4 full, leaving some space to force out the air inside. Seal the freezer bag and lay the bags flat inside your freezer with your meats. 

Staying organized takes 10-15 minutes when I get home. That's not a lot of time to have fresh, flavourful meals whenever I want. It's the first step in getting everything you want out of your kitchen.   

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At September 11, 2010 at 5:41 PM , Blogger Darrell Carson said...

The topic seems so simple, but yet leaves you wondering what needs to be done to your own kitchen to get it properly organized. Looking for more topics that intrigue the senses, and not just the tasty ones.


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