Clean As You Go

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Now that the kitchen is organised and groceries are bought, it's time to cook. And after cooking, comes cleaning up. Regardless of what you prepare there will be something to clean up. Even a peanut butter sandwich leaves crumbs on the counter.

The most important principle of kitchen use is : Clean As You Go. McDonald's owes much of its innovative fast food success to this principle, and it's taught in home economics courses all over the world. I'm sure in every age, and every culture, mothers told their daughters, 'Now this is easier if you put things away once you've used them.'

That's all there is to it. Once you've used something, wash it. Once you measure something, put it away. Once you have the dinner cooking, wipe the counters, sweep the floors and wash all the pots and wooden spoons you used. When the cake is in the oven, wash the bowl and make the icing. (Then hide it so that it'll last to get onto the cake)

Using this principle, by the time you are really tired and ready to serve dinner, the kitchen is already clean, and you can relax and enjoy dinner. It seems like more effort at first, but after a while becomes second nature. (Then it drives you nuts when other people don't do it. Offer it up.)

An instructor once told me, 'In a properly organised kitchen, you should be able to get a cake in the oven within ten minutes.' I tested it, and it's quite true. After you've chosen the recipe, from taking out all the ingredients to putting the cake into the oven should only take ten minutes. Longer if you don't have an electric mixer, but not much longer. In a few seconds more, you can have a clean kitchen again.

The inventor of the dishwasher (a woman, by the way) was surprised that her invention was not welcomed with open arms and cries of joy by women world-wide. Turned out, after she did her market research, that most women enjoyed dishwashing. Without 'labour-saving devices' women worked very hard, every minute of the day. Dishwashing was an opportunity to stand in one place and rest and most women found splashing about in warm water soothing to tired sore hands.

The same is true today, especially if it's not a mountainous pile of dried dishes and crusty pots. Keep your sink filled with soapy warm water and just wash as you go. Dry and put them away too, and your kitche will stay neat and tidy looking.

In our home, we welcome some 25 people for Christmas Eve dinner (a thirteen course meatless Ukrainian feast), 25 people for Christmas dinner (a traditional turkey dinner with three kinds of pie, steamed pudding and a fruit mousse) and about 15 people for Boxing Day dinner, (left-overs and more pie.) I cook most or all of this myself, in two or three days. I clean as I go, put things in the freezer as they're finished and am able to relax and enjoy myself when the guests start arriving.

With Clean As You Go firmly in place, you can move on to other things, like crafts, or reading, or experimenting with new recipes.

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