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Getting Rid of Kitchen Clutter

Are your kitchen counters the catch all for the family? To get rid of clutter on your counters you have to start by cleaning off and organizing.

Nashville, Ark. – Are your kitchen counters the catch all for the family? They are at my house. We drop the mail there, and most days we have to move something just to eat breakfast at the bar or sit down to visit while food preparation is going on in the kitchen. If you can relate to this scenario, you may find it difficult to prepare meals or find what you are looking for. It can be very frustrating.

            To get rid of clutter on your counters you have to start by cleaning off and organizing. Sort items on the countertops into baskets or piles for each family member and have them take it to their room immediately for them to put away. Have them understand that if they leave it on the counter, you will throw it away. Put the bills and mail together in a basket in an area where you will answer and pay them.

            Next, begin on what’s in the kitchen cabinets and drawers for maximum organization. Begin by taking inventory of what is in the kitchen. If it is broken or not used, get rid of it. Make sure that all the equipment is in good working condition and clean. Divide the kitchen into four work areas – mixing/cooking, storing, cleaning and serving. Store items near where they are used most often.

            In the mixing/cooking area you should store measuring utensils and mixing bowls. You may also want to store your seasonings, flour, sugar, and so forth in this area because this is where it is most often used. You should store pots, pans and baking dishes that are used often. Store hot pads in a drawer located in this area. The major appliance in this area is the stove and/or oven.

            The storage area is where you should put your plastic bowls and lids for storing leftovers, and other storage items such as zip-lock bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap. This is also a good place to store kitchen equipment that is not used often if you have room. Remember to put heavy things on bottom because it is easier on your back to lift from the floor rather than overhead. Many kitchens have pantries and this is considered part of storage. Try to keep canned foods rotated in the pantry according to expiration dates with oldest in front and newer foods in back. If something is out of date, throw it away!

            The cleaning area in the kitchen includes the sink and items that should be stored here. It is good to store cleaning agents under the sink or close to the sink. Remember to make sure that cleaning agents are stored where they are out of reach of children – if stored under the sink make sure that your have child-safety locks on the cabinets. All cleaning agents should be properly labeled so that you know what the product is and how it is to be used.

            The serving area is near the table and where the dinnerware, flatware and table linens are stored. The serving pieces such as bowls and platters are also stored in this area. Some kitchens or homes may have multiple serving areas. If you have a formal dining room, you may have a china cabinet and buffet located there that you store items in. For everyday use items, you will probably store them in a different area located close to the table, where you eat most of your meals.

            Organizing your kitchen can take a little time, but it sure makes life easier. It will reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen preparing meals when the clutter is gone and you have space to work in. It also helps when you know where everything is located instead of having to hunt for them. Encourage your family members to help you by putting things in their place so that clutter can be reduced to a minimum.

            For information on healthy meal preparation, contact the Howard County Extension Office and ask to be on our mailing list which will contact you whenever we offer a class that focuses on nutrition or health and wellness. Call the Extension Office at 870-845-7517 for more information.

Recipe of the Week

            This recipe is from an older EHC cookbook compiled by great cooks in Howard County. There are only a few of these recipe books left in the office. If you would like to purchase a copy, please visit the Howard County Extension Office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Liz’s Coconut Cake

2 c. sugar

¾ c. butter flavored shortening

4 eggs

2 c. sifted flour

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ c. buttermilk

Seven Minute Icing

            Cream together the sugar and shortening until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift together flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk until all is added. Pour batter into three prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees until done, 25 to 30 minutes. Frost with Seven Minute Icing.

Seven Minute Icing:

1 ½ c. sugar

3 egg whites

3 Tbsp. corn syrup

1/3 c. water

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

1 c. miniature marshmallows

7 oz. flake coconut

            Combine sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, water and salt in the top of double boiler. Place over boiling water and beat continuously until soft peaks form (about 7 minutes). Stir in vanilla and miniature marshmallows. Beat slowly until marshmallows melt. Spread icing on top and sides of each layer. Sprinkle generously with coconut.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

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