Mise en Place: To Put in Place

Don’t hate me for this, but I am one very luck woman. My husband does 99.9% of the cooking in our house. And best of all, he enjoys it! That said, once every so often he has to work late, or he is out of town or he craves one of my few specialties and I have to put the apron on. Such was the case this past Tuesday when I decided to tackle a new recipe. Since I cook so infrequently, I can get rusty between stints, so I decided to put to practice the concept of mise en place (pronounced meez ahn plahs). Mise en place is literally translated as “to put in place.”

Mise en place is simple. Before you pre-heat the oven, you want to make sure you have all of the required ingredients and equipment needed to make the dish. Think of your kitchen as an operating room; prior to surgery, all of the surgical implements have been sterilized and the accompanying supplies (sutures, gauze, etc) are neatly lined up on a tray. Imagine if mid-procedure your surgeon cried out for gauze and the assistant had to run to the drug store to buy more. Things would not turn out so well.

So, back to my kitchen and my rusty cooking skills; as I began to dice the onions and mince the garlic, I realized there are other applications for the use of mise en place. Packing for a trip is one such example. Preparing your taxes is another. And then I thought how well this could work in estate planning. If you have all of your documents prepared, in one place and up to date (sort of like within the sell-by date), your passing will be that much easier on your survivors.

Preparing your estate doesn’t just mean you have prepared the necessary documents. You must also sit down with your heirs and explain your plans and your wishes. Tell them why you have made certain decisions pertaining to the distribution of your assets. In addition, share with them your wishes concerning your living will and health care power of attorney. This can greatly reduce conflicts over your desired medical treatment should you become terminally ill and alleviate any stress and guilt family members may have. And finally, make sure you have your documents reviewed every 3-5 years to ensure they are current with state legislation. Remember, the only constant in life is change.

My husband does not utilize mise en place very often. He doesn’t really need to. Since he cooks daily, he doesn’t get rusty in the kitchen. But when it comes to executing an estate, he fortunately has zero experience. That is why he truly appreciated the very candid meeting we had with his parents this year. We now know where everything is and what the plans are and that gives us peace of mind.

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