High-Grade Living, A guide to creativity, clarity and mindfulness in every aspect of life, is a book by Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell. In the extract below, the couple explains how to hit refresh on the most used room in the house: the kitchen …
A kitchen cleanse can be one of the most satisfying edits of the house. It will hold all kinds of insights into how you are living and eating. Your kitchen is the heart of nourishment for you and your family and friends. Over the years, my family has had incredible kitchens: open plan, with plenty of storage and amazing appliances. We’ve also had the most hobbit-hole-of-hell kitchens, with no storage and cockroaches flying out of the itty-bitty cupboards. And I have always tried to make them work, giving myself over to the lessons that each kitchen taught me.
I have to admit that the same beautiful food has come from each and every kitchen, because it’s the heart that goes into the dish that matters, not the kitchen it was made in. So begin to view your kitchen as a little temple to your heart and see how that can flow into your food. If you have ever been camping, you will know that simple food cooked with presence tastes amazing, even with just one cooker and one pan!
Pictured: Grower’s markets are an amazing opportunity to source ingredients and recipes from local growers. This is a chard and goat cheese tart that a vegetable grower suggested I make, and he was right – the combination was delicious.
Auditing your kitchen
Take a really good look around your kitchen. Look in the cupboards and all the drawers, and don’t forget the fridge. Journal your responses to these questions:
-What do you see, organisation or chaos?
-Are there any ingredients you can’t remember buying?
-Is there an exotic and intriguing group of ingredients?
-Are your essentials neatly displayed?
-Are there fundamental staples you can’t live without?
-Can you barely see these through a sea of products and ingredients?
Pictured: The utterly impressive and beautiful collection of plates from Hiromi Karatsu, who can explain where every single one came from!
Editing your kitchen
If you are hanging onto food you don’t use, the edit will be insightful – and possibly painful. The many cooking shows and books out there are great for inspiration, but the downside is that a lot of us enthusiastically purchase things we use just a pinch from once. If you find yourself asking, ‘What did I even buy that for?’, it can go. Being very honest is important. Having a pantry filled with fantasy items doesn’t inspire us to cook each day; it just makes us feel guilty and ashamed.
The kitchen edit involves not just food, but appliances, crockery, utensils – everything! Here are some things to consider as you edit:
-Is any food out of date? Throwing away what seems like perfectly good food can be confronting, but it will help reprogram how you buy food in the future.
-Are there any items that you don’t use? This includes things like the fancy spices you bought on a whim, or those four different jars of pink Himalayan salt. Consolidate what you can, and move everything else on. Then once you think you have finished, do it again. You will be much better at this the second time around.
-Are there any crockery or utensil items that have been sitting at the bottom of the cupboard for months or years? Donate them! The same goes for that fancy appliance you’ve only used once since being gifted it at Christmas.
Refining your kitchen
Fill your kitchen with only the very best ceramics, cookware and ingredients, and keep it really simple. Less is more in the kitchen. It’s not going to happen overnight; it will take time, heart and patience. Enjoy where the process takes you.
And don’t forget to use your best every day
Are the items you love most not being used very often because they are ‘precious’? High-grade living is not about saving things up for a special day. It’s about using your best quality every day. Use your best glasses at every meal. Your favourite plates are perfect for toast and tea on a rainy day. Try to mix it up, not favouring a single type of bowl but experimenting with different types. We shop a lot for handmade ceramics and always for vintage, so every single plate and cup is different. Try mixing it up to make every meal more creative, instead of having eight matching white plates!
Extracted from: High-Grade Living by Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell, Thames & Hudson.
Photography by Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell.