The Baking Station

Before I get to the details of my baking station, I need to make this disclaimer.  I am the primary baker in the family, not the primary cook.  My husband (Mr. Man from this point forward) and I decided a long time ago  that we needed to divide and conquer when it came to running our household.  We are both full-time professionals working outside the home, and in order for our home to run in a way that makes us happy, we need to share the load.

It just so happens that Mr. Man enjoys cooking and is good at it.  Win, win! Meal planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning tasks are done by both of us, with him doing the majority of the meal preparation.

I will have a future post on meal planning and preparation as we have researched and tried a variety of “systems” and have found one that works great for us at this time.  Needless to say we thrive on a plan.  The thought of coming home and having to decide what’s for dinner, is a proposition to which neither of us is open.

Now back to me.  I mean baking.

When we renovated our kitchen years ago, we cut a window into our living room and set up a small breakfast bar.  This really opened up the space and is great for entertaining and just living.  I can see the TV from my baking station, which is actually nice, considering we don’t have cable and I watch very little TV. But, I do love to put a cooking/baking show on for inspiration. Currently I am into Baking with Anna Olson on Amazon Prime.

The baking station encompasses two functional spaces for me: the counter and above and the lower drawers/cabinet area.  The station is located next to the refrigerator so it requires minimal travel.  That is the purpose behind all the stations in my kitchen.  I know we all need to get our steps in so we can enjoy our baked goods, but that is counter intuitive to time efficiency.

I’ve set my photos to black and white for most of this post, because it is a little overwhelming from a learner perspective.

Let’s take a look at the top first.

Here you see the counter top vignette that includes the following:

    • measuring cup and bowls from Pioneer Woman (love the colors although you can’t see them here)
    • two tall containers which hold whisks (large, small and flat), spatulas (large, medium, small and skull & crossbones)  S & C is my son’s.  If you want your kids to cook, get them their own tools.  They will love it and feel very grown up. You can’t see my latest and GREATEST “container” well in the collage so here you go.

  • My sister got it for me from a wonderful west coast craftswoman who makes “Designer Objects from Vintage Books”.  I know, right? She can be found on Facebook @theupcycledbookshop. Love it!
  • Cake plate and nested mixing bowls include my favorite Pyrex yellow bowl.  Mr. Man insists it was handed down from his family.  I insist it was from mine.  Either way:  favorite family heirloom.  After I bake, I put the goodies on the cake plate and pull out my clear glass dome to keep them fresh.
  • Hanging on the wall above are two flour sifters.

To the left of the space I have my spice rack and flour canisters. The vintage canisters are from Ebay.

They seal nicely and open easily. I have a plastic bag in each which feels more sanitary to me but goes against my “avoid all plastics in the kitchen rule” so, hmm. I have flour, white sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar in them. I picked up the spice rack shelf at variety store and love it.  It keeps everything I need at eye level.  It includes:

 

  • salt
  • cream of tartar
  • organic and homemade vanilla
  • vanilla beans
  • lavender
  • cinnamon (I love Pensey spices.  These were a gift…a great gift for a baker)
  • cardamom
  • ginger
  • nutmeg

So the top of the station contains most of what I need, but not all.

Now let’s take a look at the cabinets and drawers.

The three large drawers are brilliant and I love them.  When we remodeled, large drawers seemed to be all the rage for kitchens.  I was skeptical but am now a convert. Three of the photos above show the contents.  Other than the top drawer they mostly contain extra supplies or unique baking ingredients.

Starting at the top again.  The top drawer contains:

  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • biscuit and donut cutters
  • icing tips
  • small ingredient bowls
  • pastry blender

I’ve used a variety of utensil dividers.  One is black-coated metal.  Another is bamboo.  Others are just plastic bins.  One drawback to drawers is that they do get dirty from ingredients dropping in every time you open them.  Think flour shower.  So, it is critical that you have dividers that allow you to lift multiple items out at a time, in order to wipe out the drawers.

The second drawer contains:

  • extracts
  • extra spices
  • cooking spray
  • glass measuring cups
  • chocolate chips
  • cocoa

The third drawer contains some heavier items:

  • coconut oil
  • extra flour (keep bulk in freezer) and sugar
  • stand mixer attachments

The right cabinet has my favorite “luxury”: a pop-up stand mixer shelf.  It isn’t automatic, but pulling it up and locking it into place means I don’t have to lug that large appliance from below. Yay for me!  I own a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. It has been sent back for adjustments and repairs twice.  I use it often.  I would love a larger one with an apron on the bowl, but then it wouldn’t fit in that cabinet, so I will muddle through.

In the left cabinet are my baking pans, cake circles and cooling racks, stored vertically (life changing).

One item that I use often but is stored in the pantry is my pastry board. It is a Fantes 28X22 available here .  This one looks good too.It has a lip that keeps it stable on the counter and a backboard that keeps it neat.  We love it and use it for pastry and pasta. Mr. Man learned to make pierogies from his grandmother so when our new Cook’s Country cookbook had a recipe, we were inspired to pull out the board.  The result was a tender cheese and potato filled dumpling, perfect comfort food during this winter blizzard.

I hope this post helps you to consider how to best use your space.  Do you have a baking station?  Are you a completely clear counter person?  What are your favorite baking resources?  I would love to know.  We collect cookbooks so I will post more about how we use and organize them in the meal planning post.

I may wait a while to do my “Real Food” post as my baking goes against most of the real food rules.  But, we’ll talk and I’ll let you decide.

Pax,

Kristin

Help, My Spark is losing Joy! It’s time to Declutter the Kitchen

I am a big fan of Marie Kondo and the Konmari method of organizing.  I have to be honest though, I am only halfway there when it comes to my whole house declutter.

I did great through the clothing portion, with the help of Jennifer Scott (The Daily Connoisseur) and her Ten Item Wardrobe and Madame Chic books.  I’ll share my current 20 item wardrobe (not down to 10 yet) in upcoming posts.

Next, I moved on to books.  That was a huge hurdle in my house, as I am a librarian and we (hubby and kids) are all avid readers. But I followed the rule of bringing every book together, considering each and only keeping those that “spark joy”.  I think you would be impressed as I purged a lot.  I have a Little Free Library in my yard, so many titles rotated into that.

That’s when I got a little off track, but in a good way. With the help of my brilliant and creative friend Emily of @yourhome-girl I took out my massive dining room furniture (that was way to bulky for the space) and did an update that makes me smile every time I walk past.

The Next step was CD’s and DVD’s.  we don’t have a large DVD selection but lots of CD’s (the music of my past-think Rod Stewart and The Big Chill) and it just overwhelmed me.  I tried to move on from there but I struggled.

Now, I did continue to declutter closets here and there but got behind as I wasn’t staying true to the original system.  A few weeks ago you might say I was at Def-Com (insert large number here), as this was one of my kitchen cabinets.  I only feel comfortable showing you this picture because we are friends and I feel safe.  No need to look closely.  It is as bad as you think.

 

So, being so close to a new year, I vowed to do better!  I decided to go off script a little and dive in to the kitchen declutter.  It is truly the heart of our house and I couldn’t go another day with it in such disarray.

My process was one of “direction” rather than item analysis.  I merely started at the most horrendous cabinet and worked my way over and down.  Many people who live in a truly minimal home have completely clear counter tops.  I prefer areas that serve different functions and like to design vignettes that support and “beautify” those areas. This is my baking area.

That horrendous cabinet that I chose to start with houses items used for packing lunches and preparing breakfasts. The first thing I did was throw out, donate and recycle all unused items (how do we accumulate these so quickly?)  Next I gathered all the tools and items needed for these purposes to this corner of the kitchen.

  • bowls
  • small plates
  • mugs
  • coffee maker
  • toaster
  • cereals
  • dried and fresh fruit
  • water bottles and lunch boxes
  • paper sandwich wraps
  • syrup, honey and butter

I did a couple of transitions, putting items into prettier or more efficient containers. As soon as we purchase cereal, we transfer it to glass jars, recycle the boxes and store any excess in the red tin.

Next, considered what I had on hand to store items.  I decided to reuse as much as possible, rather than purchasing new storage solutions.

 

My tea and cocoa were a mess so I reorganized, using some of my favorite little Pyrex containers and mason jars.

 

 

Here is the completed corner.  It includes the upper corner cabinet which contains mostly lunch preparation items. Under that cabinet is a lazy Susan with cereals, syrup, honey and my favorite bowls.  the large red tin.  Our mini Shulux coffee maker is next to a tin containing compostable coffee pods.  The toaster is actually up in the cabinet as we don’t use it as often.  I love that everything is located to help make morning routines more efficient.

 

 

In an upcoming post, I’ll share the rest of my decluttering efforts, including my pantry. I hope this inspires you to consider whatever minimizing efforts appeal to you.  I actually feel a sense of relief that at least one routine is simplified.  Now that sparks joy!

Pax,

Kristin