Kitchen Cure Week #2: De-Clutter and Give Away Kitchen Equipment Plus Special Projects

The Fall 2009 Kitchen Cure

I have a KitchenAid, 2 food processors (2 more in the basement), a hand blender, a blender, 2 steamers (shall I go on??) (Darci in Traverse City, MI)
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This Week's Assignment: De-Clutter and Give Away Kitchen Equipment Plus Special Projects
Cure Clock: Getting the hang of it! 3 weeks more!
Cure Takers: 2,300 and counting...

Week Two is here. Now that you tackled your ingredients in the fridge and pantry, it's time to pay a little attention to the equipment piled up in your kitchen. Take a long honest look at the stuff you keep in your cupboards and on your counters. From little stuff like flatware to big appliances. Do you really use that George Foreman grill? Do you truly need three strainers? We'll also be talking about picking a special project to complete during the Cure.

Haven't joined yet? Join here. It's easy and free.

Read on for this week's assignments.

First our usual note on participation: Do your best, and pace yourself. Haven't gotten all the way through Week One yet? That's okay. Do your best to march forward. You will have a week to complete each assignment. Each assignment will be given on a Friday so you have the weekend to dive in deep, although they can all be done in short bursts throughout the week so don't panic if you're heading out of town for the weekend or would just prefer to laze about. Also, many assignments can be on-going through the Cure, so if you don't finish one week's work by the following Friday, just keep going. If you haven't finished (or started!) last week's assignment (Week One: Clean Out the Fridge and Pantry), you can combine efforts this week.

Week Two Assignments

1. Take BEFORE and AFTER photos of your kitchen tools: We want to see the scene before you weed things out and then after you've sorted through it all. Show us your counter-tops, cupboards and other places you keep your kitchen tools and equipment. In the "before" shot, DO NOT clean things up for the camera. Submit your photos directly to us and use the "Go For It!" section of the form to write captions for each image. Submitting your photos gives us permission to post them using the name you provide. This will allow us to learn from everyone's projects.

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I have been in my apartment for 3 years and just got married... most of my wedding gifts sit in a precariously stacked pile in the corner. I need more storage space and need to use the space I have, like my shallow cabinets, more efficiently. (Stephanie in New York, NY)

2. De-clutter and purge: Make three categories: stuff you use regularly, stuff you use occasionally, and stuff you never use. It could be as small as a stray corn cob holder or as large as a KitchenAid mixer you got as a wedding gift and just don't use. Think about plastic food storage containers that don't have matching lids. Think about splintered wooden spoons. Get into flatware and plates if you want. There must be things in there you don't need.

• In the case of stuff you use regularly: set it aside. It will be going back in the cupboards, but not before you wipe down all the surfaces.

• In the case of stuff you use occasionally (for me this is my ice cream maker, a grain grinder, knife sharpening stones, muffin tins), consider using spaces in the back of a cabinet. We often are asked how to maximize deep cupboards - here's your chance. Also consider boxing up some of these items - like special occasion dinnerware, seasonal things (margarita glasses? BBQ tools?) - labeled neatly and placed in the rear of deep cabinet or in a high place in the kitchen like above the refrigerator.

• In the case of stuff you never use, consider giving it away or selling it. I meet so many people who keep things in their kitchen that were given as gifts. This is your chance to take a leap, be bold, and get rid of those unused wedding gifts or things your bought because you thought you'd use them but you just don't. List them on on our classifieds, eBay or Craigslist. Believe me, someone wants your yogurt-maker. You don't need three grill pans. Be brave!

• As you go through your collection of kitchen tools, pull out duplicates. I find most people keep way too many pieces of plastic left-overs containers. Often tops and bottoms don't match. We know tongs are everyone's favorite tool, but you really only need one pair. Mixing bowls are another common offender. Small, medium and large is all you really need, right?

3. Clean all surfaces: Take out anything else in the cupboards and on the counter tops and wipe it down with a warm, moist cloth. We encourage you to use earth-friendly products. For cutting through grease, vinegar and water works nicely. Check out this post on cleaning products for the kitchen. Don't go crazy: This is not the deep cleaning portion of the Cure. That will come next week. However, it's important to at least wipe down all surfaces when returning your newly purged arsenal of cooking tools collection to its place.

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A warm color, like our yellow, is good for the kitchen but ours was done with flat paint so it collects grease and is difficult to clean. I'm also tired of the yellow. This is my special Cure project.

4. Decide on your special project. This will be a project that you want to do to improve your kitchen aesthetically. I'm going to re-paint the back-splash of our kitchen. Maybe there' sa piece of art you've wanted to have framed. Do it. Many people like to somehow alter their cabinets by switching out the knobs, stripping paint, changing paint color, or removing doors altogether. Maybe you could use some plants and you have a sunny window just waiting for greenery. If you need suggestions, ask your fellow Cure-takers, or submit a photo of your place and ask me what I think.

5. Keep up the good work you did in Week One: Keep the your ingredients in order, pared down and most importantly, used. Did you miss something? Two extra half-used jars of dried oregano in the back of the pantry? Consolidate! Faith's handy download-able Grocery Reminder might help.

6. Stay in touch!: We have an exciting community of about 2,300 people currently signed up for the Kitchen Cure. Smart people. Fun people! And you can meet them all if you get active on our Cure Discussion Board. Also, don't forget to check in every day with the Kitchen Cure Page where all the Cure-related posts live in one neat little package. While assignments are posted once a week on Friday, related posts are going up every day and there is a lot of conversation to be had in those posts comment threads as well.

Reminder about photographs: Submitting your photos to us helps us see how you're doing and answer specific questions you have. If you'd like your progress to be showcased in a post, please take them on the highest quality setting you have on your camera and with as much natural light as possible. Submit your photos directly to The Kitchn. Using the "go for it!" form, make sure to explain what's going on in each image so we can properly caption each photo.

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.