Let There Be Light

For crying out loud! No wonder some people don’t like to cook. Their kitchen is a dungeon or a lounge. Every surface is covered with some “essential” appliance, lack of quality tools, or worst of the worst: nothing to help you see what you’re doing but tiny can lights high up in the ceiling.

As I tried to teach someone how to make her own homemade soup I was really frustrated. I couldn’t see what I was doing and there was no place to put a cutting board. Eek.

We all have our limitations. We can’t have an enormous Hamptons-style expanse like the Contessa. But if you don’t treat your kitchen like a work area then you won’t get any good work done in there.

Think about moving that coffee maker to your bedroom. You know you want that coffee straight out of bed anyway. Now you’ve created about 12″ square of counter space in your working kitchen!

Enough with the mood lighting. You can’t prep without seeing what you are doing. Invest in some under-counter task lighting. Or bring your retractable desk task lamp onto the space that your coffee maker just evacuated.

And sharpen your knife! A sharp knife makes easier work of prepping your food and keeps you from cutting yourself better than a dull one. I like this controlled method below which the chef calls honing. It’s even more secure if you put a folded towel on the counter to keep the steel from slipping. You will find your results are much better if you treat your knife well by never throwing it in a drawer or dishwasher, always hand wash/dry and put on a magnetic strip or knife block, and hone before or after each use.


There’s more, much more you can do to ensure your cooking success if you’ll think about it and look objectively at what you’ve created. Stand back and wonder if you were going to employ somebody to prepare food in your kitchen, is it set up for their success and safety? If not, start removing non-kitchen stuff, get rid of tools that don’t work well anymore or aren’t made for the job you ask of them, put in some higher wattage light bulbs, and stock your work area with the best quality tools you can.

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