Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Am I The Only One Who Loves A Pretty Tray?

Porch knitting is the best.

Like other women love shoes, I love trays. My appreciation of trays began in college when taking food lab courses. With mutiple kitchens and many "cooks," we always used a tray to collect our ingredients before we began the actual food preparation.

Then as part of my job as a home economist, I also did cooking segments on local television shows. (This was light years before The Food Network was a thing.) As you can imagine, planning was key for that kind of cooking. Trays were the secret to keeping everything organized.

The first mental picture that comes to mind for many people if you were to ask, "When would you use a tray at home?" is the one with children bringing breakfast in bed to mom on Mother's Day.  Or, possibly if you are a lover of English novels or BBC television, you might think someone of walking into a room carrying a tray loaded with tea things. But there are everyday practical uses for a tray.


I often use a tray for my knitting projects. Particularly when it's a project with more than one color of yarn. I love projects bags and use them all the time. But if I were to drop these three balls of yarn into a bag along with the work-in-progress, it would take some time to untangle the colors when I pulled everything out to work on it.

To be honest, I'm not going to pack a 3-color project up and take it along with me everywhere. So, why bother with a tray? My usual knitting place is on the sofa and I could just leave my knitting right here where I sit. But what if I'd like to move to the porch on a pretty afternoon? When it's all on a tray, it's easy to pick it up and move to a new location. And then come back inside when it gets hot. The sides of a tray also keep the tiny knitting things, like stitch markers, your pencil, yarn needles, from slipping down between the sofa cushions.

This project quickly outgrew this little tray.

And should a visitor should drop by unexpectedly—yes, that really happens from time to time—or I want to knit right up to the minute the grandchildren arrive, I can easily move that tray in a second without disturbing my work.

When Little Sister is here, she's usually up before everyone else. I let her have breakfast on a tray in our bedroom and watch cartoons until the rest of the crew wakes up. (Shhhh! Don't tell our secret.) Eating on a tray has become part of that ritual.

I'll share the recipe for this paprika chicken soon.

I still use a tray in my own kitchen. I sometimes round up ingredients ahead of the actual cooking time. Gathering everything in one place before I start to cook lets me make sure that I'm not missing a key ingredient. A trip to the store mid-recipe is not a good thing.

Maybe I'll even measure the dry ingredients. Then when it's time to cook dinner, it becomes a pretty simple process. The cooking feels quicker because I'm starting with everything in place. And I'm less stressed when I know everything is at my fingertips.

This is my Snowmelt Shawl in progress.

It's doubtful you have a wardrobe of trays in your house like I do because, 1) I'm probably older than you and have had more times to accumulate them and, 2) you might not have daughters who give beautiful trays as a gift. But a simple cookie sheet from a dollar store works just as well.

Have I convinced you yet that using a tray is a good thing? If not, read on.

  • When cooking outside on the grill, a tray provides a clean work space.
  • You will save steps when taking things out to the grill if you make one trip with all ingredients and utensils loaded on a tray.
  • Trays keep crumbs and spills contained when the grandchildren have a snack away from the kitchen table. (That's an "at Mimi's house" special privilege.)
  • Trays can make an in-progress craft project portable.
  • A tray under a pizza box in the den keeps any greasy spots away from the sofa.
  • Sliding a tray under the bed is a quick way to temporarily hide your mess. (Don't tell anyone I said this. I really haven't done this in years. But there was a time...)
  • There is a reason why waitresses use trays to serve food and clear a table—it saves steps. 
  • Walking into the room with cookies and lemonade on a tray just looks civilized. 







6 comments:

  1. Trays are the best Dianne! I have a collection too. Especially love narrow ones for a single lunch or snack. And with a large yard, trays make it easy to carry stuff out to the pool deck in style! Love your blog and so glad I finally got wise to it!

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    1. I knew there was at least one tray user out there! Part of it is habit. But the first part is figuring out how very practical they are. Welcome to the blog!

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  2. Thank you for this great post - I really like your ideas. I use a little porcelain tray in my bathroom to hold my everyday jewelry and a few other pretty things that I like to look at. The tray was in my mother-in-law's things after she passed and I was thrilled to have it. I'm enjoying your blog!

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    1. Hi, Pammie! I forgot to add a bathroom tray to my list. Thanks for the reminder. I have one there, too. Glad you're finding things you like here on the blog. Hope you'll be back.

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  3. What a fun post to read. I haven't thought much about trays. I have one and have had it for a-g-e-s. I found one exactly like my one my mother had and bought it and have had it ever since. Not long after, I found a second one like my mom's, bought it and sent it to my sister. now that I've read your post, I'm sure I will be influenced to keep an eye out for pretty trays!

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    1. Using a tray was the rule in college food labs. And that lesson stuck. I find it practical now. I went through a "toleware" tray phase, but as beautiful as they are, they aren't meant for hard use.

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