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Why your dining table can't serve its purpose

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Pots & Pans With Hajiya Ramatu Usman Dorayi

If your home functions like most people's homes, your dining table isn't used just for eating. In addition to providing a dining space, our table is used for meal preparation, our children's colouring surface, an alternate work station if you need a change of space from your desks, a hang out spot to sit and read,

and dozens of other purposes. But keeping clutter off the table and making it ready for eating with your family and friends is more important than using it as clutter station. Here are some of the strategies to keep it clear:
-Have a mail processing station by the main entrance. First and foremost, the dining table is not a place for mails. So create a mail processing station by your main entrance where you can sort, shred, trash, recycle, and properly handle all your mails.
-Keep a trash can near your dining table. If you have a formal dining room, you are likely not to have a trash can in this space. Find a way to hide one near a side table, or keep one very close by in another room that you can easily pick up and move into this space.
-Organize your buffet or sideboard to meet the needs of the space. So often, sideboards and buffets are full of china that is rarely used or silver service you pull out just once a year. If you want these special event items, store them someplace more remote (the high shelves of kitchen cupboards are usually good locations) and use your sideboard or buffet for things you actually use in your dining room. In addition to storing place mats and napkins, your sideboard holds crayons and colouring books, a pair of scissors, an extra set of reading glasses, table cleaning supplies, a few pens and pencils, a spare power cable that works with all the laptops in the house, an extension cord, and a radio.
-Set the table as the first step of meal preparation. If you don't plan to use the table while you're making the meal, set it with plates, cups, silverware, etc., as your first meal preparation step. This way, when your guests come through the dining room, they won't deposit items not related to the meal on the table.
-Don't pick up and drop stuff someplace else. Although it is incredibly easy to just scoop up what is on the table and set it on another surface, try your best to properly sort through items when you remove them. Throw out the trash, put toys away, shred papers you do not need anymore and file those that need to be filed.
-Wipe down the table and sweep the floor after every meal. To keep from getting ants, this step is imperative with a toddler in the house. However, it might not be such an obvious step if the people dining at your table aren't in the habit of dropping half their food on the floor. Completely cleaning off the table after every meal makes it a welcoming space for the next meal or whatever other use you need. This is also a great thing to do after every alternate use, too.
-Avoid having a catch-all container that lives on the table. In some homes the catch-all container is a circular rotating tray, in others it might be a decorative plate or bamboo platter. Devices that are made to hold salt, pepper, sugar, napkins, and condiments are great for containing small items - but they'll end up holding other non-meal related small items if the tray isn't removed from the table after every meal. Have a place in the kitchen for this service.

Chicken fingers on a stick

1.    Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the chicken strips slightly and weave them onto the skewers.
2.    Prepare a charcoal fire or set a gas grill to medium-high, close the lid and heat until hot, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3.    In a small bowl, stir together the oil and the barbecue sauce. Spread the bread crumbs on a sheet of waxed paper. Lightly brush the sauce mixture over the chicken strips and then roll them in the bread crumbs.
4.    Grill the chicken fingers uncovered until they’re no longer pink inside, about 2 to 4 minutes per side on a gas grill.
5.    Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. Serves 6 to 8.

Tropical fruit with lime dressing

This colourful dish highlights the exotic flavours of the tropics, using ingredients that grow where the weather is warm year-round.
·    2 medium oranges
·    1 ripe mango
·    1 firm-ripe avocado
·    1 ripe papaya
·    1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
·    2 tablespoons honey
·    1 teaspoon ground red chile powder (optional)
1.    Peel away the rind and the white pith (which tastes bitter) from the oranges and then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Help your child peel and slice the mango, avocado, and papaya. Arrange the slices in a decorative pattern on a platter. In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, and chili powder, if you like. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit. Serve at room temperature.

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