I use a small bowl of soap and water for the intermezzo times of cooking. Hardly 12 inches across and made of thin stainless steel, it takes up no more than one-third of the sink. But filled with fresh hot water and dish soap, it works like a mini vacuum, quickly cleaning up small messes.
I use the small bowl as I start to cook. The water glasses, the spoons, the snack plates are all easily done from the small bowl. Also, the lids, or the counter, or the cutting board. Then I rinse the bowl and set it aside.
When the vegetables and main course are prepped and away, and we are beginning to cook, I will bring the pan back into the sink. It will handle the assorted spoons and rubber spatulas, the cooking tools as they go by. It is a cleaning tugboat.
But there are bigger bowls and bigger tasks coming — clear the smaller bowl as dinner starts. It has other things to help with in the kitchen — sauces and such. I will bring it back much later, when the bulk of the dishes are done and the sink clear.
Oddly, it is easier to wash and clean the long, sharp knives, and the odd crystal glass, with a small bowl. They do not fit into the bowl, so you face them each to each, and give them their own attention. It is a good piece to finish the dishes with.
The small bowl will be there to the long end of a meal, the easiest one to manage the finish. Nothing fits in it but good soap and water.
This article is drawn from the just-published book, How to Wash the Dishes, by Peter Miller, illustrations by Colleen Miller, Shambhala Press. The author writes books about cooking and is proprietor of Peter Miller Books, 304 Alaskan Way S. in Pioneer Square. NOTE: Wednesday March 4, there will be a book launch party at the Peter Miller Books shop from 4-7pm.