Congratulations to everyone who finished the first week of the Kitchen Cure by cleaning out the fridge, freezer, and pantry. If you haven't got that far yet, no worries — the Cure is fluid, and you can work on everything as we progress. This week's assignment is similar to last week's: clean out the clutter in your cupboards, but this time focus on the tools and pans you never use.
Have you started this yet, and if so, what are you finding? Are there tools you never use? From worn-out tools to unneeded appliances, here's a list of things to look for.
First, take a second look at Sara Kate's assignment and instructions for decluttering your cupboards. You should have a hierarchy in your head of the things that you use most frequently, the things you use occasionally, and the things you just never use.
Here are a few items that may benefit from a critical eye:
• All small appliances: Big coffeemaker, toaster, toaster oven, deep-fryer, electric grill, food processor, mixer, blender, rice cooker, microwave, steamer, electric frying pan. Some of these may be indispensable to you, but others may get pulled out once a year. Can you make do without it? Can you make another item double-task?
Give away or sell what you aren't using, and save the money in a special envelope just in case you find yourself really missing the appliance in two or three months.
• Duplicate tools: Again, some tools are great to have in duplicate. I don't know how I'd work in the kitchen without multiple wooden spoons, spatulas, and at least two sets of measuring cups and spoons. But other things can build up, especially when they are received as gifts.
Do you have three ladles, four carving forks, three pairs of tongs? Maybe a whole drawer section devoted to chopsticks that you never use? This is your chance to pare it all down and give something away to someone else who genuinely needs it.
• Poor-quality or worn-out tools and pans: It is simply not worth it to cook with poor-quality or disintegrating tools. I don't mean to say that every pan in your kitchen should be All-Clad, but you know that nonstick pan with flaking, peeling coating? Yeah, it should go. For a long time I lived with a huge featherweight stockpot with an extremely thin bottom. It was so thin and warped that everything I cooked in it burned. I got rid of it when I moved, and I immediately wondered why I hadn't done it earlier.
Really worn-out pans can be a hazard to your food and even to you; handles that fall off or pots that easily scorch are more trouble than they are worth. Bad knives are also not good to keep around. If they truly can't keep an edge, or if they are really flimsy, pitch them. They can hurt you. But don't just throw out dull knives! Some of our best knives were cheap and clumsy, initially, but when professionally sharpened they became wonderful tools.
Get rid of the spatulas that lose their rubber head in the cookie dough, wooden spoons that are chewed to nubbins, deeply scratched pans, way-too-thin pots, rusted cookie sheets, saucepans with wobbly handles. You're better off with one or two really good pots than six bad ones.
Have you started decluttering your tools and pans yet? How about your dishes? What are you getting rid of?
• More Kitchen Cure: The Kitchen Cure Spring 2009