I found a metal spoon in the frying pan this morning. The pan was sitting on the hob from some late night Italian cooking our Japanese Visitor did for her lunch today, before she headed to bed. The pasta and sauce had been removed from the pan and the spoon left in it with the wok lid covering it (this lid is mainly glass and is actually too big for the frying pan but other members of the household often use it in this way – I try not to feel aggrieved).

Why is this spoon so noteworthy, I hear somebody ask? Well the pan is non-stick! Now some of you may go “of course!” or “oh no!” and others may go “so what?”. If you are in the former camp then you have crossed the first bridge in being allowed to use “my” cooking stuff. If you are in the latter camp then I will explain: metal destroys non-stick coatings, in fact in this house where generally the kitchen is my domain, metal utensils are forbidden from being used on all cooking containers as are in fact hard plastic utensils (softer plastic are okay). The gold standard when cooking in “my” kitchen for utensils is either wood or silicon.

I am not a tidy person generally. I believe this is because I haven’t developed the correct system yet for everything. The correct system would allow me to follow a complete set of rules where everything had its place; no decisions would be needed because the rules catered for every eventuality. Unfortunately such a tidying system requires planning, development and testing; it just takes too much effort. Decisions need to made continuously: I might need this information later; I need to pay that bill soon; that needs shredding; that needs responding to but I am not sure how I feel about it at the moment; I need to remember to book an appointment; and that is just the post that comes in daily. In the past I used to open the post look at the contents (though sometimes I knew what was inside), place the contents back in the envelop and leaving the open letter on the side “to be dealt with later”. I have progressed from this. Sometimes I write on the envelop what is inside it and when it is needed (e.g. train tickets), but mainly I recycle the envelop and the contents on the side in the kitchen “to be dealt with later”.

For some reason I think has something to do with sharing a flat, I do actually have a system for most of “my” cooking stuff. Particular items have set drawers or cupboards and within the storage everything has a place and position. I also like the surfaces to be look sparkling clean so that when I clean them, they will look brand new if possible. In fact keeping things in pristine condition is another one of my foibles. When I was an eighteen year old student I bought myself a Le Creuset cookware set for £100. It included a non-stick milk saucepan, a non-stick large frying pan, three various sized saucepans with lids and two casserole dishes with lids. I soon extended this range by adding another 20cm casserole together with two larger ones (22cm and 24cm ones I think).

This cookware is orange coloured enamel coated cast iron and not only a thing of beauty but was also an investment; one of the those 20cm casseroles cost over a £100 now. Some of the cast iron containers still look pretty new thirty years later and would hope that would continue. Others have been destroyed by the use of metal on them or in one particular case, burning a tarte tatin on them. In all cases the damage was caused by relatives or visitors and at the time caused me great distress. I have felt like locking away “my” cookware or banning anybody using them but whilst this may appeal it is for most people including me, impractical. I have learnt to be less critical about others use of the equipment but this has led to some incidents and replacements being purchased. Yes they are replaceable I know, but why destroy something that could easily last several lifetimes if more care was taken? Easy tiger, there are more important things in life (honestly).

So if you want to come and cook in my kitchen, you are very welcome, just treat my pots and pans right. And erm, by the way these guidelines might help ease tensions too:

  • Don’t use sharp knives on ceramics, stoneware or cake tins;
  • Don’t cut up meat or fish on wooden boards;
  • Always keep the oven shelves and pans sparkling clean;
  • Sugary substances on the hob is a big no, no;
  • Wash up with hot water foaming with suds (no suds means grease);
  • Wipe off excess fat and grease with kitchen towels before washing up;
  • Rinse off suds with clean water;
  • Use of drying rack is permitted but please stack it efficiently and safely;
  • Always leave glasses to drip dry;
  • Remember to wash the outside as well as the inside;
  • Check the cleanliness of the bottom of the pans before using them on the induction hob, if necessary clean then with kitchen cleaner;
  • Never ever lift the lid on something cooking on the stove without prior permission;
  • Wash up as you go along, emptying the cupboards of all containers and utensils to leave them piled up dirty on the side is very distressing;
  • Don’t leave sticky residuals from juice bottles or honey on the surfaces;
  • Cover up food once it has cooled down and put it in the fridge;
  • Do use the dishwasher but make sure it is stacked efficiently and no wooden utensil or the ice cream scoop in there, remember group like with like;
  • Close the kitchen door if you are going to have music on.

I am sure every kitchen is similar to mine really; I am not really all that fussy am I?