Finding balance in a chaotic world

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I like Rachel Ray

One channel we often have on the TV is the Food Network. There are a couple of reasons for this. One Amy and I enjoy cooking and learning, and B, we know if the kids watch it, they won’t see something we do not want them to. The shows and ads on Food Network are safe and generally educational. I’ve already mentioned my love for Good Eats and Alton Brown, but there is another show I like: 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. She’s cute and spunky but what fascinates me the most about the show is that it is done in real time. She essentially starts with pulling the ingredients out of the fridge and 26 minutes later she has two to four dishes ready to go.

 

We’ve cooked a good handful of meals from her show and let me tell you, it does not take us 30 minutes. Typically it is in the 45 – 60 minute range. It’s not a big deal, but I’ve often wondered how Ms. Ray can do it but Mrs. or Mr. Dewey cannot. We don’t even have to keep up the witty banter through the show; we can focus completely on cooking. Well after thinking about it and watching more of the show, I think I’ve discovered the keys to Rachel’s success.

 

1.       She has the ingredients she needs easily available. She never has to dig through the fridge or reach deep in the back to pull out something. When digging through her cabinets, she never has to reach far in the back and knock over the paprika trying to get out the vanilla.

2.       Her kitchen is very open and easily to maneuver around in. Whatever she needs is quickly available and there is little time digging for pots or moving the toaster out of the way to get to the outlet. It is all already plugged in.

3.       She’s practiced these recipes. She already knows what to do next so she doesn’t have to keep returning to the cook book to see what to do next. Also she does not miss a step or have to back up any while she is cooking.

4.       Her open cook top makes it easier for her to keep multiple things going at once. In addition, she is skilled in keeping an eye on one pot while dealing with another.

 

So what does this mean to you or me? Well I’m certainly not trying to imply that her 30 minute meals are impossible to do outside of the TV studio. In fact, just the opposite. What makes me enthusiastic about the above list is that it is all something I can control. With a little organization and practice, I can whip out dinner in less than half-an-hour.

 

It’s funny. When I was reading “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh, he points out that kitchen organization is often very poor. The main reason for this is when are you making the primary decisions where things will go? When you are unpacking your kitchen of course. So not only are you tired and under stress from moving, but you now must make quick decisions as to where you will store the crock pot or the silverware. That is not the time to determine the best flow in the kitchen, especially considering it is covered in boxes right then. He says it is now time to reorganize the kitchen. You know how you like to use it so change things around so your items are stored an easy to get to. I know in our house we still have this very narrow cabinet, like about 3” wide. I have no idea what to do with it, I think there are some old papers just stuck in there. For 10 years mind you. Perhaps it is time to repurpose that.

 

So over the Labor Day weekend, maybe it would be a good time to rethink your kitchen layout. Move stuff around and just get better organized. Soon you’ll be whipping out dinner in 30 minutes and using phrases like “Yum-o.” Ok, maybe not the latter, but still…