Giving yourself ample time to plan ahead means more opportunity to spend on the details that make the event perfect. Unless one finds enjoyment in hosting a disastrous dinner, the way to a smooth sailing holiday soiree with style and personal touch is to make a list of things to do in advance and a date that they need be done. Ashley Tara Rogers, Head Designer for RockWood Kitchens says, “The holidays are exciting, hosting a dinner for family and friends can get a little chaotic and add extra stress. Preparing your kitchen ahead of time will put you in a better position to ensure that your events run smoothly, and allow you time to enjoy the company of your guests.”
As we reach closer to the holidays we become busy with dinner parties, shopping, and last-minute prepping. Finding the time to host a dinner party with all the dressings is difficult, preparing in advance to avoid disaster and last-minute melt-downs should start now. As the holidays approach here are five kitchen-ready practices that every host/hostess should plan to avoid stress down the road.
1. Seal Your Granite- Making this a yearly tradition leading up to the holidays, is a good way to keep track of the last time you did it. Granite should be sealed every year, some granite is more porous than others and may require sealing sooner. To determine if it’s time to reseal a countertop, dribble some water onto the countertop, if it beads up you are good. If the water soaks into the granite, it’s time to reseal.
Excessive cooking and a higher volume of traffic in your kitchen makes your counter top more prone to spillage. Liquids with colour like grape juice, red wine, tomato sauce and cooking oils can discolor the countertop. Here is a step by step way to properly seal your granite countertop:
- Apply granite cleaning solution on the surface of the granite and wipe it down with a paper towel
- Let it sit for 15 minutes before applying the sealer
- Apply the sealer using either a hand gloved hand or with a paint edger evenly throughout the surface
- You should see a nice wet gloss on surface. Allow the sealer to penetrate into the stone by letting it sit for 30 minutes
- Do not apply sealer with a paper towel or a rag it will absorb the sealant before it can penetrate
- After 30 minutes of the resting, wipe and dry the surface with paper towel or with a soft cloth
- Repeat next year
2. Keep your kitchen cabinets clean- Keeping your kitchen cabinets clean with a damp cloth, warm water and a light soapy solution will avoid build up of grease and grime. If you keep this up on a regular basis there is no need for chemical cleaning solution.
RockWood Kitchens uses Zep Cabinet Cleaner to beautify, clean and protect laminate and wood. It can also be used on painted cabinets. The citrus degreaser removes fingerprints, grease and caked on grime leaving a clear shield that will renew your cabinets luster. Pick it up at any Home Depot across Canada.
3. Basic Appliance Maintenance and Cleaning- a beautiful holiday set up deserves a perfectly clean kitchen. There could be nothing more embarrassing than mother- in law opening the microwave door only to find last night’s dinner caked on the inside. Even worse, the smoke alarm going off from excess grease in the bottom of the oven.
If all of your appliances are in good working order, do some basic cleaning and yearly maintenance.
Make Sure Your Oven is Ready
Do not run your oven’s self-clean cycle in the days leading up to holiday cooking. The self-clean cycle is stressful and can cause it to break down. Instead, use a damp cloth to wipe around the burner elements and save the big cleanup until after holiday hosting.
Check to be sure that your oven is in functioning order. Place a meat thermometer in the middle rack, pre-set the oven to 350 and wait for it to warm up. If the temperature on the thermometer reads what the oven has been pre-heated to, all is well. You’ll also want to check door seals and gaskets. If they don’t provide a proper seal, the oven can lose heat and waste energy.
For caked-on foods, heat one cup of water on full power for three minutes, do not cover it. The heat and steam will help to soften the food. Let it stand for five minutes before wiping it clean. Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad and mild dish washing liquid on stubborn stains. For stainless steel microwave interiors, use a soapy plastic scouring pad.
4. Prepare your serve ware- Wash dishes, flatware, glasses and linen. Cleaning can be a long winded and time consuming job. Rather than trying to do it all in one day, break it up so that it makes sense. Have day to clean silverware and flatware, another for dishes and glasses, and a separate for linens.
5. Clean clutter from countertops and organize storage space- Often we get into the habit of using one part of our counter space as a mail and junk area. Organize the mail and bills by purchasing a file folder or accordion file that can be placed in a closet or an office area. Freeing up counter space means more room to cook and accommodate space to work. Clear off appliances that you do not use every day- toasters, toaster ovens and juicers can all be moved temporarily.
Kitchen add-ons such as garbage pulls and cabinets with lazy Susan’s are a great addition to better organize your kitchen and create more space. (See promo code at bottom of page)
Check to be sure there are lids to match your containers. It never hurts to stock up on food storage containers to store leftovers.