Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Visit beautiful Cooma - Design to make cooking easy

Kevin is impressed with the dinners I'm making from our 'indoor campsite' - the new house in Cooma. 

But I don't cook easily because I'm particularly blessed with talent. 
I get the groundwork right, and the food kind of cooks itself. 

The trout from yesterday was smoked, maybe even caught, by the fellow who sold it to us.  With a trout like that, a bit of pasta, cream and spring onions, you have major deliciousness.  And can do it on one camping pan.    

The thermometer says its 4 degrees in the kitchen, so Kevin's decision to go without a fridge for now is quite sensible.

What we do need is space and beauty, so that was the first thing I claimed.
I've lived in, visited so many houses. Its pretty much a rule - people who bravely try to dredge food up from a cluttered kitchen do it at great cost to their levels of calm.
Professionals don't do it, why should we expect we can?
We think we choose to eat out. But really, our kitchens are usually kicking us out of our own homes.

And if your kitchen doesn't let you eat home-cooked meals, everything in life gets harder.  You can think of the list yourself.

Here is my usual routine when taking over other peoples kitchens:

1. Put the draining board, everything, under the sink

Unless you have lots of dishes, you don't need it. 
It makes you think the sink is meant to have dishes sitting on it all the time. This makes them harder to shift. 
Its like putting parking meters in traffic intersections, and wondering why it takes so much willpower to get through. 
Dishes sitting around get in the way of cooking, and of washing the next batch of dishes. Let them live dangerously. Love us and leave us.

2. Defend your kitchen sink with Guard-Flowers

We put our beauty in EXACTLY the wrong places. Evening dresses. Dinners to impress people who we don't love.  Nobody tells you this, but put your beauty in the opposite place, rubbish bins, brooms, and kitchen sinks, and wait for surprises to happen. 
People start doing your housework for you. 
At least, you find yourself doing it, the kicking and screaming strangely silent. 

It took a long walk though Cooma to gather these flowers,  all picked from various road-sides.  I like the frostiness of the silver foliage. It makes friends with the stainless steel of the sink. Make connections, and the result is perceived as beauty. 


The blue linings of the cupboards make me think of Maa Makutsi's beloved blue-lined shoes. I am charmed by this old-timer kitchen, which somebody bothered to line sky blue.
Maybe these cupboards too will give Kevin good advice when he is going astray. 

3. Chop & clean before cooking, wash dishes before eating

My life is a constant 'putting to bed' of the "Hurry Hurry Monster". 
My usual instinct for cooking is to first turn on the stove, then start chopping onions. 
Freaking myself into a race against .....I don't know what, until dinner is on the table, and my heart rate can go back down again.

My Japanese housemates showed me another way, which I try to remember each day:
Put everything back that doesn't go in the pan.
Then cook. 
Wash implements while cooking. 
Serve the food, wash the pan - 20 seconds - then say grace and start eating another 20 seconds after that. 
After dinner, there is just one plate each, one glass each, and set of chopsticks to be daintily washed.

Nobody wants to face greasy aftermath on a full stomach. 
To have it all intrude into the freshness of the next morning is even worse. 

The Hurry-Hurry-Monster, if you have one, loves you.
He is trying to protect you, get you fed, and get you out of there before ....before something terrible interrupts.
He is old, thousands of years.  He got you and your genes all the way here in safely. So you can't just dismiss him. 
But do let him know you have things under control, you started preparing early, and he can go and have a nap.


Em said...

It constantly amazes me how you are able to turn the most mundane things into something special and beautiful. I will have to try some of these ideas, especially the guard flowers.

Cecilia Macaulay said...

Yes, thats the most important thing! There are no unimportant things. Im so glad you got it. Id LOVE to see photos of any of your arrangements.

Sonya said...

I've put some (not all) of those steps in place and they worked beautifully - now re-reading that post, I'll finish the job off properly and put that dish rack away and pick some flowers, thank you

Sarah said...

I tried your tip about cooking and washing up, Japanese style. I did it for a cooked breakfast then lunch. I'm amazed how satisfying it is to be sitting at the table, eating, with a clean benchtop rather than a horrible reminder of all the washing up I need to do once finished a meal I put so much attention into (real ingredients, organic food).

Thanks for the explicit instructions on how to do it: chop, put away what ever isn't needed. I ended up doing the washing up before turning on the stove, but maybe I should have done that while the food was being cooked. The only bit I had a hiccup with was an aversion to washing up a hot pot. But if all I have left to wash up is a pot plus eating utensils/crockery then it is still a far site better than a pot, plus chopping board, knife, measuring spoons & cups etc, and food containers and scraps. Plus having two smaller washing phases helps complete your other tip of not keeping the dish rack on the sink.
With such order came a great sense of freedom.

africanaussie said...

oh yes! there is nothing like a clean kitchen to make me want to begin cooking. I really resonated with having the dishes done too before beginning the meal. Thanks for putting it all into perspective, and I love your flowers :)

Cecilia Macaulay said...

Sonya, I love your new kitchen sink with guardflowers' photo, Im so proud.
Sarah and AfricanAussie, Im so glad this is useful to you. Enjoy your light and lovely after-meal times xx