Spring Has Come to the Kitchen
So which voice do you hear?

Wow, it is spring!

Yeah, that means "spring cleaning."

Can't you just smell the freshness after the spring rain?

When I opened the windows, I noticed they needed washing.

But the wildflowers are blooming!

Oh yeah, and the flowerbeds need raking.

I'm really looking forward to being outside.

Yeah, it looks like I'll spend lots of time with the mower this summer.

Yes, it is spring-cleaning time. Many of us equate the phrase "spring-cleaning" with lots of work. We think about the yard, the flowerbeds, the deck, the closets, the garage, the basement, etc., etc., etc. The list can become so long it becomes overwhelming.

But actually, spring is a time of renewal - new buds on the trees, new flowers coming up, new kittens, puppies, and new plans for the summer. If you like to cook, spring is a time to create new ways to prepare food, try out new recipes and find new utensils for your kitchen.

Here are some ways to celebrate spring in your kitchen and put a fresh look on your cooking!

Take a critical look at the kitchen area.

Do you need to feel more alive in your surroundings so that you can put some enthusiasm back into cooking? If you have a window - clean off the winter grime or dust so it sparkles and lets in the sunshine. Take down any window treatments and wash or clean them, better yet just leave them down so more sunshine is available. (Everyone needs to experience sunshine in his or her life each day.) Also put away appliances you don't plan to use in the summer months - such as crockpots, hot beverage aids - frothers, soup tureens, etc. Purchase some new "spring" kitchen towels to hang around and to brighten up dishwashing chores.

Look through your cupboards and drawers.

Throw out the melted measuring cups and spoons, broken wooden spoons, pastry brushes with only a hand full of bristles and small items buried in the bottom of the gadget drawer. If you haven't used a utensil, such as a funnel or grater in the past year, chances are you aren't going to use it this summer. Items such as this need to be tossed (if you are a pack rat at least move the item to the back of some top cupboard). Maybe it's time to move up to more permanent utensils such as adjust-a-cups or a handy silicone brush. Bring to the front of your drawers and cupboards all the summer grilling utensils, silicone mitts, freeze pop makers, and ice cream gadgets. (If you leave them inaccessible - you won't use them.)

Create a new style of cooking with your fresh new environment.

The first food off the grill in the spring is a delight to your tastebuds. The hamburgers never tasted so good, the grilled potatoes are scrumptious and the kids will devour the hot dogs. So have things ready for that first nice grilling day. (Frozen hamburger patties cook almost as fast as thawed.)

Here is a recipe for potatoes that you might like to try to go with the hamburgers: After scrubbing four medium baking potatoes, puncture with a fork and microwave until just starting to soften between thumb and forefinger (about 10 minutes). Coat with a good extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt and Italian herbs. Place on highest rack or farthest from the heat in a medium grill and finish baking 15 - 20 minutes, turning once.

Think of new recipes to try this spring to compliment the grill.

Try adding some "new" greens to your lettuce salad like watercress, new spinach, or kale. Add color with pieces of red leaf lettuce or shredded red cabbage. Don't leave pasta behind with the winter months, but instead serve pasta in salads for lunch with light dressings. Make your pasta fun with new shapes such as mini bow ties, ziti, cavatelli or small shell macaroni. A new look to an old recipe brings freshness to the dinner table.

Where will you serve all these delicious new recipes and scrumptious food? Look around your dining area and yard. Are there some areas just inviting you to sit with a sandwich, a beverage and some interesting conversation? (Anywhere away from the television is relaxing). With some fresh spring flowers to decorate the table or a flower cookie bouquet as a centerpiece, your family might not rush away from the dinner table. Don?t forget the presentation of the food. Fresh slices of lemon or sprigs of parsley, says wow! Even the backyard can become an enticing and favorite picnic spot.

Yes, spring means renewal and spring cleaning in the kitchen requires some extra effort. But when considering the final result of what comes out of the kitchen - fresh meals which gathers the family together for sharing - preparing each new recipe in an inviting environment, with accessible tools is worth some effort this spring.

It is spring and your kitchen is ready!

Step out into the sunshine, smell the fresh air and enjoy the flowers!

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