Friday, September 19, 2014

Stay out of my kitchen

I like to cook. It is one of those skills I came by through watching my mother (thanks, Mom) and with a lot of practice in making meals when I was younger. It is something that I enjoy, find challenging and try to share with my son.

When I'm just making a regular dinner on a weeknight, however, I want everyone to stay out of the kitchen.

I didn't know why this was. I mean, we have a nice large kitchen with lots of counter space, so I am not cramped. But, if I am cooking dinner after work, I prefer everyone to be out of the room.

Then I read this article on mise-en-place and it all made sense: I want you out of my kitchen because you make me feel unorganized.

The practice of mise-en-place is the almost military precision of chefs to have their ingredients and tools on hand, and their steps so well organized that they could preform them while blindfolded. It's kind of like when you watch the Food Network shows and everything is pre-chopped and pre-measured and all the chef/host has to do is add the amounts to the pans and stir - that staging is part of mise-en-place. When someone is in my kitchen with me, I have to work around them. And I don't like navigating around people while trying to remember my next steps.

Wait a minute. Did you just hear that? I think that was a gasp of joy from my mother, because being the amazing cook that she is, she is probably excited that I've come across this topic. In fact, she probably has a book on mise-en-place for me to read.

But back to that link: The NPR piece on the topic doesn't just apply to cooking, it discusses chefs who are applying the concept to their lives. And I can get on board with that.

My life is made up of routines. They can be flexible, yes, but for the most part, my morning routine, bedtime routine and night routines are the same. I know what I will be doing and that predictability is comforting.

Turns out that it is comforting for children, too. So even when I have to tell my son what the plan is going to be every night (even when it hasn't changed in years), he takes comfort in knowing the next steps, the next ingredients.

These days, my life is all about order from chaos. And getting more sleep. And getting dinner on the table every night. (And, seriously, having people stay out of my kitchen.)

Do you like company while you cook or do you need to focus? Tell me in the comments.


  1. I am okay either way. I have recently been making my dinners during nap time and freezing them so that during my work week I can focus more on the boys than the chopping and measuring...

    1. Time savers in the kitchen are great: I love that weather is getting colder so I can start using my crockpot more.