Think kitchen in November and December and you’ll probably picture a big pot of chili. However, if you’re entertaining for one or more holidays during these months or around New Year’s, it’s time to turn your thoughts to preparing your kitchen.
For someone with a small galley-style kitchen, prepping the premises might be as simple as cleaning out drawers and cabinets and giving the place a good scrub. However, for those whose families literally live in a large kitchen, the process is a lot tougher.
Either way, if you can get your kitchen in shape now, you’ll enjoy each holiday a lot more. According to the Washington Post, many holiday hosts and hostesses might find the “two-pronged” approach favored by cookbook author Diane Morgan helpful.
The first step is taking stock of your pantry, or cupboards in a smaller kitchen. It’s important to remain well stocked with staples during the holiday season. However, you’ll want to also keep on hand items that you know you would need for the on-the-spot entertaining that happens so frequently around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s.
In terms of supplies, this means having enough wine, tonic water, liquor and limes. You’ll also want to have some snacks like smoked almonds, cashews and olives. Make sure you have plenty of crackers and be sure the shelf life of any cheese you buy means it will last through the season. If you believe that no holiday is complete without sweets, keep specialty cookies, caramels and truffles on hand.
Most cooks use more spices during this period of time than during any other during the year. Go through your spice cabinet or drawer and replace any that are aged. Add ones you don’t regularly use, such as pumpkin pie spice, to your shopping list.
The second phase of preparing your kitchen is checking your equipment and utensils. It’s better to figure out that the gravy ladle is missing now than when you’re putting the turkey on the table. This is also the best time to count plates, cutlery, placemats, candles and vases.
While many cooks harbor a dozen or more baking dishes in their kitchens, they often discover just hours before guests arrive that they don’t have the right size for a particular concoction. This time of year, it’s easy to find inexpensive baking dishes that will take plenty of heat and then make a pretty appearance on your table. This is particularly important for anyone setting up a new household.
One of the most common shortages during holiday entertaining is glassware and stemware. You should be able to pick up plenty of it at outlet and restaurant supply stores. Don’t forget the local dollar store when it comes to implements or pans. November is the best time to check for incidentals like carving boards, knives, potato mashers, Bundt pans, cheesecloth and twine.
The best-stocked kitchen in the world will still be a scene of chaos if you don’t take the time to de-clutter before you start cooking. This gives you room to work on the counters and a place for seasonal decorations such as candles or a basket of pinecones.
Finally, make an inspection to find out if all your kitchen appliances work. This involves more than making sure the range is operational or the blender still works. You’ll need to use an oven thermometer to check the real temperature of your oven and adjust cooking times accordingly. Almost no ovens are accurate. And while you’re at it, this is the perfect time to give that oven a thorough cleaning.
Washington Post site