Friday, March 12, 2021

Nitty Gritty of March

I’ve turned to Victoire de Montesque again to see how I should be managing my “french” household. Turns out March is a good time to get on with organizing the kitchen, but before she drags you into the nitty gritty of the soul of the home she sets up the scene.

‘March is the most unstable month of the year. You awake to a dusting of snow, in the afternoon you are pulling weeds under a hot sun, you grab a cup of tea looking out at the hail stones, and just before the sun sets you stop to enjoy cocktails bundled up against the  wind on the sunny side of the house. Ups and downs and backwards turnings that might make you a bit crazy. Only the birds sing along with serenity knowing that spring is advancing in spite of her taunts. Spring is carried along by the violets, the flowering cherries, timid irises, tree peonies, and branches of lilacs blooms.

You have to be adaptable to these humors of March. It’s time to move on from winter routines and prepare for the lightness of the beautiful days to come.

Once a year it’s good to screw up the courage and energy to question our humdrum routines. March, the chaotic month, can be transformed into a moment of deliberate planning. The art of organization can ease the routines of the household in unexpected ways, but always positive.’

I am tickled by the nitty gritty of that positive organization.

‘Hanging above the stove and under the exhaust fan: paddles of different sizes, slotted spoons, and big spoons for filling up jam pots. On the counter top: pottery jars for spatulas, wooden spoons and whisk, the knife block, a wooden tray for the bottles of olive oil, sunflower oil, a liter of homemade vinaigrette. Glass jars, one for sea salt, one for fine salt, and a big wooden pepper grinder. A mixer, a basket of eggs, a small basket with two onions, one garlic head, bay leaves, and some shallots. Three cutting boards against the wall, behind the jars of vermicelli, spaghetti, macaronis and rice, and the clay pot of coffee beans. In a drawer, the little knives, the slotted spoons, spoons and forks of different sizes, metal spatulas, salad tongs - all this lined up in a plastic holder. In a cupboard: the crepe pan, an egg pan, a series of casseroles and some soufflé forms…….’

I won’t continue with this exhaustive list - it goes on for five pages. She’s trying to be helpful to someone setting up house as well as helping us oldies organize our accumulated stuff.

Her main point is that by deliberately organizing items by categories, size, and frequency of use, you will take stock of what you really need to keep the kitchen humming along. ("Humming along" -growing up in the mountains I did not understand this expression until I went sailing. Moving so fast that the sail stays were humming. I was so scared that I cried - then I loved it!)

Speaking of a kitchen humming along I feel pretty shipshape in mine. Tom designed and built the space. I call it the sailboat kitchen because it’s practical and easily navigated, everything has a place and is in it’s place. The limited shelving and cupboards dictated that I pared down the pots and pans, spatulas and knives. But, if I’m not careful things start to creep in. Where to store the new juicer? Why do I have so many varieties of lentils? How many jars of green olives do I need? Why’s the walnut oil shoved way back there?

So on a recent frosty morning I pulled stuff off the shelves and out of the drawers. I grouped things into categories, restocked the shelves in a deliberate manner, and now I can see at a glance that I don’t need any more green olives but that I do need ketchup. Maybe I should let go of one of the 4 pyrex baking dishes. It sure feels good to have the Tupperware sorted out. Later that afternoon my neighbor and I were walking the dogs under the wild plum blossoms. When I told her about my discoveries hidden in the kitchen jumble she said, “You’re rich!”

With that job done I’m off to the garden. I want to be ready for the lightness of warm sunny days. I want to have friends over to sit under the lilacs and enjoy green olives and a cold drink.


Lynn McBride said...

Fun getting a peek into your kitchen. So well organized, she could be describing yours! And her description of March is spot on. Love Tom’s big painting.

Jeanie said...

Big huge admiration coming across the sea from Michigan! Your kitchen and dining area are beautiful! I love your pull out cupboards. It seems the pan you always want is behind all the others! I love Victoire Montesque's turn of phrase and lovely writing but wow -- that's a pretty intense guideline! When Rick and the kids painted and deep cleaned the kitchen before I got my gas stove (best Christmas present ever!) I had to dump all the cupboards which I admit were overflowing. They're much more organized and neater now but it's so easy to get out of hand! I love the idea of a sailor's kitchen. Yours is filled with light and beautiful color. Such a smile to see this!

Have the loveliest weekend!

Leslie in Oregon said...

Yes, organization is the sine qua non of a functional kitchen. I learned that when I cooked in the upstairs or downstairs first-class galley of a Pan Am 747, and even though I have not cooked very often since, I keep the kitchen in Clipper shape.

A Small Village in France said...

Oh my - I would imagine that once you worked in a Clipper kitchen you'd either have to keep up the drill or let your hair down entirely!!
Never would have thought of a high flying chef! Thank you for the image.