Martha Stewart Can Bite Me.

There are two basic components to putting on a good dinner: 1) Taste, 2) Presentation.

I basically have the taste part down, most of the time. It's the presentation where I struggle a little.

I admit that I have a certain penchant for dishware, serving bowls, and pretty little spreading knives. I own, for my small kitchen, probably far too much of this sort of fluff. I have a weakness for Polish Pottery. My heart aches for that new Wilton Armetale vegetable griller. I look for any excuse to get out the little vintage olive dish and the compartmentalized deviled egg tray.

That said, by and large, my presentation is not only poor, it rather stinks. On a regular night at home, my husband and I serve ourselves from the stovetop, into whatever receptacles we can wrangle that are relatively clean. We then eat in front of the television, and I watch as he precariously balances his plate and salad bowl on each knee while he sits in his big chair. It is much like watching a clumsy ballet, seeing him try to accommodate a fork, napkin, and knife, while avoiding flinging lettuce to the far reaches of our living room. I suppose TV trays would be a worthy investment, but where’s the fun in that?

When my friends come to dinner, I push the papers and books and screwdrivers and bits of cat food to one end of the kitchen table, and serve my guests at the other end. They may be cutting with my wedding flatware, on my painstakingly selected stoneware, but the view is of IRS documents and last month’s magazines that haven’t yet been read. Mom, I apologize. I know you taught me better than that.

Why, why do I crave beautiful kitchen furnishings, if I can’t feature them properly? It is a sickness, a rebellion, a tribute to Attention Deficit Disorder. I like ducks! Let’s go ride our bikes! It is akin to my refusal to buy stamps, no matter how much I love letter writing and receiving, no matter how much I want to clutch handmade stationary like this to my bosom and weep.

But it doesn’t stop me from browsing The Bayleaf, wandering through Weavers, loitering near the linens. I comb the Goodwill and the Social Service League Thrift Store for coffee decanters and wine glasses like a woman crazed.

Recently, I made a wall-mounted “mail center” in our kitchen in an effort to keep the table clear of debris, but the result is a packed mail center full of expired pizza coupons, and table covered in old pay stubs and IRS documents.

Anyway, what I want to know is this:

A) How do you keep your kitchen organized? I had a friend ask me the other day if I knew of any “kitchen inventory software” and I almost fell off my office chair. I thought he meant tools and dishes, but he meant foodstuffs, pantry items, etc. Either way, the concept, to me, is akin to that of wearing live animals as hats.

B) What are your guilty kitchen sins, like my penchant for buying beautiful kitchen servingware that will rarely, if ever, see a proper display or usage?

Please tell me I’m not alone.

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

Coming up: A recipe that DOES NOT INCLUDE BEEF. It is not, I repeat, it is not the apocalypse.


Moxie 13 years, 10 months ago

I know this sounds simplistic, but my secret to keeping a relatively clean kitchen is to make a clutter spot elsewhere in the house, before you get to the kitchen. For example, I have a flip top desk in my dinning room (which is between the garage and the kitchen) where things like bills and random stuff I've carried in from my car collect before they ever reach the kitchen. And then I just keep the flip top closed when people are over.

My guilty kitchen sin is my collection of fancy serving bowls of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I heart them. A lot. Glenn would say, however, that my true kitchen sin is that I actually use all those bowls, creating twice the dishes for him to do as I would if I just served our dinner in the pans I cooked it in!

suggestionbox 13 years, 10 months ago

I have a really messy car, so maybe that is the secret to a less cluttered kitchen - never bring it in your house. It is handy for the times I end up at a party and realize it is a birthday party - the car is stocked with items ready for gifting!

I am compelled to buy old fashioned floral tablecloths at every opportunity and old ash trays, which is odd because I don't smoke. I have also started on a quest for the perfect gravy boat, which means we now have three at home - none of them are perfect, but it is a quest and it will continue, which is also odd because my husband and kids don't like gravy. Me, alone with a boat of gravy? Now that's just one sad image.

DarkHumorGirl 13 years, 10 months ago

I went crazy needing a gravy boat last year...then i got 2...I don't like gravy. So needless to say I have an obsession with random kitchen items too. I get all tingly over vintage relish trays and old pyrex bowls and those rectangle refrigerator dish thingys. I also have a problem where cute food shaped kitchen timers are concerned although I'm bothered by their inaccuracy so when i actually time things I use an ugly digital.

I can be of no help on the table clutter, I could clean mine off every day, and it would be full again the next afternoon...I do not know how it happens! Strange magnetic force?

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 13 years, 10 months ago

Not so much on the barely-used accessories, but we do buy things at Asian markets that we end up not using, and which sit around cluttering up our very limited pantry and counter space simply because throwing out food is an unthinkable sin. Like the enormous jar of pickled lemons which sounded divine when I was eight months pregnant, but smell like lemon Pine-Sol and taste . . . eh, not like a cleaning product, but not good, either. Most of our purchases at these gastronomic playgrounds are used, and with great enthusiasm, but when something misses the mark, it misses it by a very wide margin.

chocolata37 13 years, 10 months ago

Ummmm, you have seen my kitchen sistah. If you find the answer to this kitchen mess let me know as well. Maybe a maid is the answer?

alm77 13 years, 10 months ago

Organized? Hmmm. I just kind of toss things in the right cabinet, but its really not organized.

As far as kitchen sins... not so much about kitchen tools as it is that my kitchen has been four different colors in the four years we've lived here.

I have friends who come over every Wednesday. The wife in the family is a far better housekeeper than I am, so it's a priority to have things shiny, and appear organized, when they come over. I just move the pile of mail to our desk, where it is never to be seen again. Their weekly visits are a real motivator and it's easy to keep up with when you have do it every week. Oh, and my husband is the one who usually does the dishes. ;)

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