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Choosing a Proper Locations for Kitchen Counters

When choosing a location in the kitchen, ensure that you link all work areas with counters, if possible. Once you have found the best placement for major appliances, connect them with a system of level and continuous counters to make cleanup easy and to ensure that you have work surfaces and resting surfaces where you need them. Alternatively, you can plan for separate work stations. If linked counters aren't possible, plan a center island or place a freestanding roll cart where you'll need it most. Leave room to chop and prepare ingredients near the stove or sink.

Choosing kitchen countertop materials
Choose materials for the kitchen counters that fit their use. Stone or ceramic tile near the stove or oven gives you a place to rest hot pots and pans; a cutting board near a sink speeds cleanup after chopping.

Planning the lighting in a kitchen
A combination of focused light and diffused lights works best to illuminate specific work areas and to provide pleasant ambient lighting for the rest of the room. Place focused lights, such as under-cabinet lights, directly over work areas. Or choose small, flexible spotlights so that you can direct the light to where it's needed most. Place overhead lighting in the center of the room and over dining areas.

Organizing items in your kitchen
Easy access is the key to kitchen efficiency. Place items where you'll need them most: near the stove, cutting surface, or preparation area.

Storing pots and utensils in the kitchen
Hang pots on racks or hooks near the stove, or keep them in heavy-duty drawers beneath or next to the stove. Keep knives near cutting surfaces in a knife block, on a magnetic strips on the wall, or sheathed and stowed in nearby drawers. Store often-used utensils next to appropriate work areas. Place metal spatulas, slotted spoons, and stirring spoons upright in a crock or jar near the stove. Whisks, scrapers, and mixing spoons go in another crock near the prep area to keep them from getting splattered with grease.

To keep kitchen work areas tidy
Nothing slows you down more than slicing or dicing at awkward angles to avoid piles of food. Instead, keep bowls near the cutting area to transfer prepped food. Also, have a scrap bowl on hand to readily dispose of waste such as vegetable trimmings. It also helps to stow small appliances; you can use corners or deep counters to keep them out of the way.

How to have salt at the ready in the kitchen
Keep a small bowl or low-sided container of salt near your stove. If your prep area is far from the stove, have another salt bowl there as well. These let you readily dip into the salt with a measuring spoon instead of trying to pour the salt from a container (always a guaranteed spill). Bowls let you pinch up some salt and sprinkle it too, which gives you a much better feel for how heavily you are salting than if you use a salt shaker. Bowls also minimize clumping, whereas a salt shaker used over a hot stove usually absorbs steam and gets annoyingly clogged. Kosher salt works best near the stove because its bigger grains are easier to pinch up. Near the prep area, stick with table salt, to ensure proper measuring for baked goods.

Keeping oil from going rancid in the kitchen
Store oils close to the stove, but not too close. Oils are used most at the stove but will spoil faster if kept too close to the heat. The ideal spot is between your stove and prep area. That way the oils can be easily accessed from both areas and kept safe from heat. Use dark containers or closed cabinets to keep the oils out of the light, which also speeds spoilage.

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