Thursday, January 8, 2009

Order of the Kitchen

I am a strong believer that a kitchen is a glorified workshop. We are craftsmen, using tools, creating a product. Those tools need to be kept clean, sharp, and organized. In fact, as dirty as shops can be, kitchens have to be the worst. There is countless bacteria, several people using the area at once, and for some reason, kitchens have become a place for mail, books, and all sorts of other things. The reason, because all kitchens are highly unorganized. I don't care if you are Martha Stuwart herself, your kitchen is unorganized. All kitchens are too small for what they have, or a better way to put it, they all have too much shit in one space.

Here is how kitchens should be arranged:
1) Keep the high demand items out and at a arms reach. Do you use a spatual once a day, keep it out. Have a few pans that are your go tos, hang em somewhere. It is simple. If you use it all the time, keep it close. Sometimes you can't keep it right there, but at least keep it in a drawer close to you. If you have a deep cabinet, put the crock pot that you use 2 times a year in back and keep your popcorn popper front for weekly movies.
2) Don't clog up storage space. This goes hand in hand with #1. I hate cabinets, drawers, or bins that are sooooo cluttered with shit that you cant even open them. I have a simple rule, you only need one. You don't need 12 stirring spoons, flippers, and spatulas. Maybe one of each. For the few times you do, move your fat ass down one drawer. I keep a box of all the extra shit I have. I do use it on rare occasion, or maybe it is because my roomate and I have a few overlapping items. Take the best one and use it, store the other.
3) Don't stack, don't cover, never go deep. I have lived in some small kitchens, which for some idiodic reason, they decided to make the two cabinets 2 1/2 feet deep. That couldn't be more worthless to me. The problem, how do you use the space behind something. Every time you have to get something out or put it away, out comes have the stuff. This is ok if you follow #1 and put the rare items in the back, but it still sucks. This is a universal for all storage. If there is more than one step invovled in getting access to a location, the system will fail. Open a door and put a plate away = good. Open a door and put a plate under some other lighter plates= bad. People are lazy, and more so, don't see the result of just leaving it there for now. Problem is, it will be there for now and for ever! I have tool box that sits in a closet, I just put the tools on top untill I have to open it because it is too much work to open the door, take out the box, open the box, lift the first level open, put the tool away, shut the level, shut the box, put the box back, and shut the door. Sounds like I'm making it harder than it is; yes and no. So how to you get around this? Adjust your shelves so you don't waste valuable space. Use sliding shelves/doors so things can be pulled out and stacked behind each other. Keep like items together, preferable in rows. It is the basics of managing any inventory, minimizing pick face and maximizing variety. Stack similar glasses in one row, coffe mugs in another, bowls in another.
4) Utilize hanging space. This is where you need to think about what are your highly utilized items. I keep my good pans, knives, and utensiles all on the wall. It is unused space anyway, they look cool, and they are constantly being washed and reused. All these items can be washed and put away wet and hang dry (i do dry off the blades to avoid staining). I will emphasis this again, it looks cool, it is still a room of the house, which brings me to my last point...
5) Kitchens are still rooms. I said kitchens are workshops, but they are also the most important room in a house. No other part of a house can add more value than a kitchen, nor is any part more expensive. You don't realize how much a kitchen is worth, expecially if you are renting, but there is a lot of $$ sitting there. There are tons of little things everywhere. Count up all your shit, how much did those cute napkin rings cost, $20? If so, I think you could spare a little to have a nice pan and show it of with a $2 hook. Besides, I would rather use a good pan and have my food taste better than get compliments on my gold leaf napkin ring. Also, why are cookbooks never seen? People seem to want to display them everywhere else in their house. Why? So I can see how smart you are and how much you have read. It's not like books need easy acess, how often do you grab an old novel? Do we not want to see that we are using a recipie? Hmm. I get exited when I see 10 cookbooks in the corner of a kitchen, it lets me know this person cares what he makes, and wants to do it right. Again, if you use em, keep it close. You can use that display case in the dining room and put the worthless china in a box (i think china is worthless, lot of money in something that will inevitably break) I will use china when I can cook food as expensive as the plates themselves.

So am I angry, yes! I like to call it passionate. I love to cook, I love to be in a kitchen, I would like to find a way to have a lazyboy in mine. Until I get out of shity college appartment kitchens and stop renting, I can only go so far, but I can tell you this. When I'm paying the bills, I won't be buying china until you see the best pots and knifes displayed efficiently on my walls. One last word, pizza is heavenly, and if you don't have a place to put that takeout in your fridge, do some rearranging, stat!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Top 5 things I like about lists

So this week in my Decision Analysis class, the topic of how to make a decision based on several factors was brought up as an example for some theory/equation. This got me thinking on what I really want in a house, so I asked my classmate Kate Servais what her top five things she would rate a house on, (if she were to buy one). This sparked a series of lists rating our top 5 of everything from people to Thanksgiving activities. The lists were in no particular order except for the order they were thought in.

My Top 5 favorite things about Winter:
1. The quiet peacefulness-there is less people out, less wildlife, even the wind sounds bare
2. Winter Sports-A little broad, but if I could pic one, it would be broomball.
3. The Holiday Season-I love the holidays, a lot. A full month of being joyous for no reason, hell yes, sign me up.
4. Hoar Frosts-Where I live, a good frost comes along and it's more magical than Narnia.
5. The appreciation of Spring- Without a good winter, Spring would never seem so amazing. Especially in Madison where people get soo cramped up in their places and then burst out on the first warm day above 40.

In doing so, I have found that list are a great way for us to think about how we truly feel about something, or maybe more importantly, how we want to feel about something. Theses lists were made as a declaration of my views, beliefs, morals, and goals. Such high important things in life, one could only hope, are filled with the right stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When games evolve.

During a recent medical tiff, I was left to wander Madison with a alcohol restriction. Being a homebrewer, host of a beer talk show, and part of a beer club, this was a challenge, not to mention it being football season in Madison. I still chose to attend all festivities and bars, just with a stronger focus on soda. It was here that I noticed how everyone has their own "house rules" to some very standard games, and more so, people have turned anything and everything into a drinking game. From this, I created Evolution, a drinking game in which the rules constantly change to best suit the players.
The game starts with a simple chug race of one can of beer. The winner gets to evolve the rules of the game. You can not make twenty new rules at once, as evolution takes time. An Example: So after say 10 rounds, the game becomes fill a glass 1/5 with beer, cheers, drink, and then flip the cup. It seems as though the game has evolved into flipcup. But now the winners wants a twist. The next round is quite similar, only it is teams of two. With a person on his back, he must cheers, drink, and now have the person on his back flip the cup. The game goes on and on until no one wants to play anymore.
The best part of this game is it quickly becomes tailored to the specific crowd and environment. If people are out on a lake, there may be a swimming to a raft addition. If the group doesn't want to get too intoxicated or slow the pace down, more team events and smaller quantities of beer can be entered into the rules.
The game was first played November 14th in Madison, Wisconsin.