How to prepare your kitchen for a summer garden party
Wednesday, 25th June 2014, Lucy Mccoy
With the warm months finally upon us, lots of people will be inviting friends and family round for a BBQ, but it won't be the garden that assumes the guests' attention.
The kitchen is arguably the biggest show-piece in any house - no matter whether or not you actually cook in it regularly. You can be certain, therefore, that when you have any sort of social gathering, your kitchen will come under close scrutiny. With that in mind, here's how to prepare your kitchen for a summer garden party:
Declutter & clean
Although the vast majority of your guests will fall under the 'nearest and dearest' category - the kinds of people that wouldn't judge you on the state of your kitchen - it's likely they are the people you most want to impress.
One of the easiest ways to make your kitchen appear under control is to put away all the clutter - albeit temporarily. Do you need that fruit bowl on display? Do those three jars of utensils need to be on the work surface? Does your beloved KitchenAid mixer really have to take pride of place in the corner? Move all these items out of the way - the cleansing effect will also help to lower your stress levels and make the room seem larger.
It goes without saying that a good scrub is in order. Scour away that limescale with a natural lemon juice mixture, polish your stainless steel with olive oil and make that granite kitchen worktop gleam with bicarb and a good buff.
The best hosts seem to run a party effortlessly; nothing is too much trouble, nor does any request take too long to fulfil. How do they achieve such a feat? By using handy gadgets that are crucial for successful entertaining, that's how. Yes, it sounds like something from the 1970s, but you can't beat a Hostess trolley or tabletop hot tray for keeping food warm.
These far from archaic gadgets enable you to cook the food and decant into bowls prior to your guests' arrival, so there's no need for you to worry constantly about heating things up or keeping an eye on the oven. The famous brand also makes an ice maker, so you don't need to panic about refilling the ice trays or having to store a huge bag of ice.
Naturally, there are many other great gadgets that can help your party go with a swing and more importantly, let you enjoy yourself, too.
You won't want the kitchen to be overrun with dirty pans, dishes and bowls, so it's worth choosing a menu that allows for advance preparation - that way, you'll only need to take dishes out of the fridge or pop them into the aforementioned Hostess trolley. That, or order it all in from Waitrose.
Sandwiches can be time-consuming to make and dry out quickly, so instead opt for some 'sturdier' foods like coronation chicken, chilli con carne and jacket potatoes - these always complement a barbecue well and can be prepared in advance.
Salads should be the last thing you put together, as they can go a little limp. However, if you keep the component parts separate (a bowl of green leaves, a tomato salad, crudités, etc), they should endure a little longer.
Consider the effort involved with your chosen dishes; you don't want to be permanently rooted to the kitchen floor and missing out on the action.
Dedicated recycling area
There's nothing more cumbersome and messy than bottles and cans being left behind, strewn about the place. To avoid this, create a dedicated recycling area - perhaps simply put the green bin by the back door so that guests can clearly see this is where their empties should go.
It'll save you a job in the morning and keep the kitchen tidier - plus your guests will be amazed by your organisation skills!
If you are really concerned about the state of your kitchen, then you can always consider a quick lick of paint to freshen it up - a repaint always makes a room look cleaner. This might seem a little extreme just for the sake of a party and if so, think about wiping the walls down instead.
The kitchen is the busiest room in the house and the walls do get marked. A gentle rub down should remove dirty finger prints and the like - apparently rubbing with a slice of stale white bread is very effective for this - making the room appear instantly fresher.