Sunday, March 6, 2011

Simplifying the Kitchen

I've been gradually working my way through the house over the past seven months now trying to simplify and organize each room.  Sometimes it doesn't take as long as I anticipate.  Other times it can be rather slow-going.  This is the case with the kitchen...where it is a cupboard-by-cupboard process. 

Variety of rices and whole-wheat noodles.

This month, I'm doing an online workshop about how to eat healthier.  Part of my personal preparation and goal was to clean several of the cupboards to get rid of the food that didn't fit into a vegetarian-vegan lifestyle as well food that was just plain...well...unhealthy. 

My daughters and I went shopping one Saturday and purchased items from the perimeter of the grocery store (e.g., lots of produce) as well as dried vegetables and whole grains.  Once home, I pulled all the canning jars that weren't being used.  Olivia and I transferred the contents to the jars.  Midway through the process, I ran out of lids (thus, the wax paper and metals bands). 

Jars filled and ready to be placed in the cupboard.

I labeled each of the jars with the contents.  This is especially helpful when it comes to the different types of flours.  At this point, they look an awful lot like one another.  Rye flour...amaranth flour...whole wheat flour...even white cornmeal.  Not much visual difference.

Wheat and some of the flours used in bread-making.

What I like about this method is that I can easily find the items now.  Before, when I was making homemade bread, I had to take out each of the baggies of flour that I got from the co-op and read the words I wrote on the twist-tie that noted the type of flour.  It was inefficient and a waste of my time.  But I simply didn't make the time to organize my bread-making ingredients.

Canned food in the cupboard - oats, flour, dairy-free milk powder,
beans, nuts, and dried fruit.

One of the challenges of this kitchen is that it is small and cupboard space is rather limited.  The home was built in 1890 (yes, 1890...not 1990), so the design is a bit dated.  However, I have some back-up shelves in my home office which I use for all my quart-size homemade canned goods (e.g., tomato sauce, applesauce, peaches, pears, honey). 

In the living room, there is a floor-to-ceiling storage unit that has two shelves filled with homemade canned jams, jellies, salsas, and other items I can during the summer. 

Sophia, Olivia, and I are planning on doing more canning this summer when produce is plentiful and less expensive...and we can get it directly from the farmer (or grow it ourselves). Needless to say, I'll have to make more space for additional canned goods.  At least I have three months to organize and simplify other parts of the home.


Kelly said...

1890s, how great! I've always wanted an old home. Is yours a farmhouse or a Victorian?

I love that you have so much canned. One day I hope to have more time for canning (and more time to garden enough to warrant canning). I canned tomatoes once -- it was awesome -- but then planned a vacation for the folowing year at the exact time I should have been canning the plum tomatoes from my 30+ plants. What a let down (and stupid mistake)!

Now my son is too young for me to have the time, but one day I will!

Actually, I wrote about gardening just today:

Kelly @ Creating a Family Home

Harvest Moon by Hand said...

It is a farmhouse that's on about ten acres of land. It use to a self-sustaining farm back in the early 1900s. They had a variety of livestock and crops. I guess every inch of the property was used for a purpose (e.g., livestock grazing, farming, gardening, home).

I'm going to check out your blog now. Can't wait to start gardening here. We may try cold frames for some of the early spring crops this year. It would be someting my daughters haven't yet it would be a good opportunity to learn something new.

Amanda said...

Looks great! Very inspiring. I'm doing an overhaul of our family's diet/meals (we're switching to mostly all whole foods) and simplifying the kitchen sounds like a great idea. Just curious - why the wax paper under the lids? Does it help seal the jars a little better?

Amanda said...

Haha - never mind, just read that part of your post again. :) It looked like in some of the photos that you were using wax paper under the lids. :)

Jordan said...

Too funny, I did the exact same thing this month. I went and stocked up on bulk foods and used canning jars to store all of it. It's so important to not get moisture in your bulk foods or it will rot everything. Canning jars are such a great idea!