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Spring Cleaning

2010 March 16
by Gayle

So yeah, I was a little bit of a Blog Slacker last week. But I do have a totally viable excuse: Spring Cleaning.

All it took was a couple of days of sunshine two weekends ago and I was ready for sandals! the beach! grilling! and other assorted “I Am So F’ing Done With Winter” activities. Future Mr. Kitchenette even managed to get me to do some yard work (THAT, Dear Readers, is True Love). But what does yard work and a few hours of sunshine more than a week ago have to do with being such a Blog Slacker, you ask? I’m getting to it…

While I was raking the winter’s deposits of partially decomposing leaves out of beds of still-unidentified succulents, I was also formulating a plan. A Massive Spring Cleaning Plan. Five days in a week, five rooms in the house (not counting the Man Cave in the basement and the Porch Room) — coincidence? I think not!

Starting at the top, I worked my way downstairs, The Kitchenette itself being the smash finish of Spring Cleaning. More than just a cleaning up, it was also a cleaning out. By the time I got to the kitchen, there were two huge bags and one small box of items to be donated. The cleaning of the kitchen was a little different than the rest of the house, though.

First was the ‘fridge. All mystery leftovers lurking in the back were tossed without a second glance, container and all (we use the cheap disposable containers; no nice Tupperware was harmed in the Spring Cleaning Process). Crisper drawers were removed, scrubbed and returned. Months of stray espresso grounds were extracted from the crannies of the freezer.

Then on to the pantry, where aging herbs and spices were weeded out. The cabinets and drawers, where casserole dishes stacked in triplicate were thinned for donation (really, how many three-quart casserole dishes does one Kitchenette need?) and strange cleaning products that “came with the house” went into the trash. Utensils and gadgets I didn’t even know we had went into the donation box.

After the cleaning out was the cleaning up. Tops of cabinets, fronts of cabinets, all the little corners of the twin kitchen carts were scrubbed. The assorted pieces of the stove top went into the drink for a solid scrubbing and reassembly. The ScumBuster made an extended appearance. Baseboards and back doors were washed down and Windexed (and wow, did they need it).

And finally the floor. O! the floor. There was much scrubbing and Pine-Sol involved, with hands and knees and moving of carts; every stray pea or hiding Cheerio that escaped the vacuum and the Swiffer still met its match.

It’s not something I’d want to do every month, but the occasional massive cleaning (up and out) is essential to any kitchen, especially a small one. Did you know that your wee jars of herbs and spices do not actually last forever? Whole spices like peppercorns, nutmegs, cardamom (still in the pods) and cinnamon sticks hold onto their flavor for years, but the pre-ground stuff is only good for six months to a year. It’s not that herbs and spices go bad, exactly. But they do lose their potency, so they’re not going to get the job done in your recipes. For herbs, take a pinch and smoosh them up in your hand. If they smell herbacious when crumbled, they’re still good. For ground spices, give the (closed!) jar a shake, take off the lid and see how strong the scent is. Weak smell = weak spice. Protecting them from light and heat will help your herbs and spices last longer. Oh, the the freezer is not an option, if that’s what you were thinking. Humidity and moisture are also spice killers.

I know I should have used gloves and I know I probably should have sucked it up and gotten some oven cleaner (I swear, the next house will have self-cleaning hot box. And also, I will remember to put down foil when other people come over to bake pies.) But you don’t necessarily need harsh chemicals to keep your kitchen clean. Baking soda has amazing cleaning and odor-eating powers (pop an open box in your ‘fridge or freezer and tell me you don’t smell the difference). I also really like the products from Method, which get the job done while still being biodegradable, made from natural ingredients, propellant- and phosphate-free and come in some really slick (and recycleable) packaging.

So there you go, a sparkling Kitchenette, set for spring:

Sadly, the clouds rolled in late last week and continue to linger. Chilly rains have been sprinkling down on us for days. Future Mr. Kitchenette is craving beef stew, and it’s simmering away in the crock pot right now. I am wearing a sweater as I type this (It’s a light sweater. Three-quarter length sleeves. But it’s still a sweater.). But there are also robins in the yard and crocuses pushing their way up toward the (soon-to-be sunny??) skies.

And you could totally eat off the floor in The Kitchenette. Spring, we are ready. Bring it.

What about you? What are your spring cleaning rituals?

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