Talking SCHOP! Spring-ish cleaning

Kysha Harris, AmNews Food Editor | @SCHOPgirl | 4/14/2016, midnight
No matter what the weather is doing, the calendar says it is spring.
Spring Cleaning for the fridge Kysha Harris photo

No matter what the weather is doing, the calendar says it is spring. That means it is time to tighten it up, polish it off, discard the old and bring in the new—also known as spring cleaning. Yes, one can look at it as a chore. However, a little music, wine and inviting a friend or two over as a witness might keep you motivated and honest (thank you, Jason).

Here again is the kitchen spring cleaning to do list:

PANTRY

Pull out all of your pantry items—spices, canned goods, oils, condiments, dry goods, etc.

Take written note of what you have and make a list of all the “holes” in your pantry arsenal. It’s a great time to get new dried spices and herbs.

Get rid of expired items.

Wipe down shelves, jars and cans with a damp cloth.

Return items to a place where it makes sense for you, keeping the most used and opened items toward the front for easy access and quick inventory before making a grocery store run.

Keep overstocked items in one location, so you can shop first in your home and manage your inventory more efficiently.

REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER

Start with the freezer, remove all items to your sink, defrost if needed and wipe it down with food-safe cleaner.

Take note of what you have and the dates.

Discard old items. If not stored properly, most items are ruined by freezer burn.

Return items, keeping items with the nearest expiration toward the front so you are reminded to use them soon.

Repeat above steps with your fridge, paying attention to those condiments.

It’s a great time to get reusable fridge/freezer refreshing products to keep the smells down and contained.

TOOLS

Pull out all of your cookware and utensils—foil, plastic wrap and food-storage containers

Take note of everything and assess your use of it in the last year. Could your kitchen use the space your unused bread machine is taking up?

Get rid of broken, melted and warped items, scraped nonstick (Teflon) pans/pots, plastic non-heat-resistant utensils and non-functioning appliances.

Put all remaining items in a place that works for you and with your flow through your kitchen. Cramped for space? Use your walls to hang pots, pans, knives and most utensils.

A good 6-inch to 10-inch chef’s knife and the Santuko Japanese knife—straight edge knives— are good tools to have.

Measure your prep area/countertop in your kitchen where you will chop mostly and try to get the largest board for that area. Short on space? Don’t overlook covering your sink or the top of your stove with the appropriate sized board. Supplement your big board with plastic flexible cutting mats, for easy daily clean up and transfer of chopped items to a bowl or pot.

Throw out those flimsy and flaky “nonstick” pots and pans. Buy good quality now and you will have it for a lifetime. Buy a starter set then supplement as needed. Add at least one sheet pan, lasagna/casserole/roasting dish, too.

Basic utensils should include at least one 12-inch wooden spoon, a whisk and a spatula for flipping (both nonstick), a silicon spatula for mixing, a set of at least three mixing bowls (plastic or glass), a hand strainer, a colander, a can/bottle opener, measuring cups (for both dry and liquid measuring) and spoons, a good vegetable peeler, such as the Y-peeler, a box grater and microplane, a hand juicer or reamer, a masher and tongs for nonstick surfaces (both short and long).

As a reward for all of your hard work, I am preparing a recipe for next week for sausage and peppers stuffed portabella mushrooms (can be made vegetarian) that could also be an awesome burger. Get ready!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD