It’s time to make some pasta!
Why? Because if I don’t, I have to throw out my pasta maker. Them’s the rules. Yes, that’s right. I run my kitchen by Alton Brown’s “Use it or Lose it” system.
Foodies accrete clutter–That shiny new thingumbob at Sur La Table, that “People who bought that also bought this” add-on from Amazon, those stupid whatsit prezzies from well-meaning relatives. They all build up. (Some say they even multiply in the late hours of the evening, while the dishwasher is running.)
Alton’s “Use it or Lose it” system is a great way to de-clutter your kitchen and simplify your life. I strongly recommend it, if for no other reason than it provides a guilt-free excuse to get rid of all that junk. Here’s how it works.
Every three or four years, the kitchen gets a purge. I open up all those drawers and cupboards where those gadgets hide, I take them all, and dump them into a box. The box goes in a corner of the kitchen.
For the first month, if I need an item from the box, I get it, use it, and put it back in its home drawer/cupboard.
For the second and third months, I put the box somewhere less convenient, like out on the deck or downstairs. Same drill: if I need one of the gadgets in the box, I go get it, use it, and put back in its drawer/cupboard.
Now it’s time to review the contents of the box. There are always a lot of gadgets still in there, and it’s pretty obvious which gadgets I never ever use. However, there are usually a handful that I use only at, say, holiday meal time (zester), or when we have company (waffle-maker), or at specific seasons (meat grinder, for grilled “Burger of the Gods”). I know I’ll use them sometime this year, so I don’t mind pulling these items out and returning them to their home. Everything else in the box stays there; the box gets closed up, taped shut, and stored in the garage.
Result: I now have a kitchen that contains only those items I use on a regular basis. I’ve separated out all the “chaff” and hidden it away. (I’ve also usually given everything a good cleaning, which is a bonus.)
At this point, I usually give it another three months (just to make sure), before I take that box of unused items and donate or dispose of them, as appropriate.
In between purges, the follow-on activity is to make sure you use everything in your kitchen at least once each year. That gravy separator, that paté terrine, those corn-cob spikes shaped like the two ends of a wiener dog: “Use it or Lose it,” because if you haven’t used it in a year, you can live without it, and you won’t have it sitting in the back of the drawer, mocking you.
So, it’s been a while since my manual pasta maker and drying rack have been used. It took a long time to find all the parts for the thing, too. I don’t want to lose it.