I love the time that I spend in my kitchen cooking and especially baking. To borrow a catchphrase - it's my happy place.
However, I've recently found myself having a stuff problem: stuff on the table, cupboards so full that stuff falls out when you're reaching for something, and, most of all, stuff cluttering up the counters so badly that I only had a tiny bit of space to actually use. It was shamefully bad at the start of the summer, but then I pulled out my canner and made about 70 jars of various sorts of preserves. And, you guessed it, they became part of the stuff problem.
Don't misunderstand me ... I love having the memory of summer preserved in strawberry jam to smile at in the dead of winter. And it's lovely to have all of the ingredients already on hand if you decide to make lasagna or just the right pan for the birthday treat that you're going to make. However, one jar of jam will make me smile as easily as 30 do, it's frustrating if you find that you have multiple open boxes of lasagna noodles, and does anyone really NEED five sizes of springform pans accessible at all times?
So, today I spent several hours going through my kitchen cupboards, counters, and other flat surfaces to try to get my problem under control. I tackled the worst section first - that horrible place where I keep the leftover containers - I know many people who also lament over this storage nightmare. Why don't Tupperware, RubberMaid, Glad, and all of those other container people make plastic boxes and bowls that actually store easily! And why can you never find a lid that fits the plastic dish that you've just naively dumped tomorrow's lunch in? I have even found that the same company makes the same size container in slightly different dimensions (rounded corners vs squared) so the lids don't fit despite the containers looking identical and stacking together perfectly! This cabinet is also where my "microwave" dishes live; these are mostly items that were given to me ... or, at least I hope that I never thought I'd be making a bundt cake in the microwave. I was ruthless in this section and chucked into recycling all containers/lids that I couldn't find a match for. I also made a stack for Goodwill - perhaps someone out there really needs that afore mentioned microwave bundt cake pan.
The space I made was like pushing the first domino ... clear space in this cabinet and add the candy molds (yes, I have the plastic forms to make fancy chocolates and cream cheese mints - get over it, you wouldn't be laughing if I offered to make you fancy chocolates, now would you?). Then use that space to move the basket of cookie sprinkles (I can probably come up with the appropriate sprinkles or at least festive colored sugar for any holiday you'd care to name) into the cupboard where my cookie cutters live. Etc, etc, etc .... I now have a huge load for recycling, a tote box of things that will be living upstairs in storage, a bag for the food shelf (already dropped off this evening), a pile of things for Goodwill or any niece/nephew who is short on bakeware, a few past-date things tossed into the trash, AND LOTS OF COUNTERSPACE! The only category of stuff that I didn't condense or store in some way was my collection of teas. I decided that the best way to whittle that problem down was to drink more tea.
So, I'm off to sit with my cat and read a book while I, you guessed it, sip at a mug of tea.