Thursday, November 10, 2011

Annoyances in the Kitchen--And What to Do about Them

       I have enough to do in the kitchen without having to search for a pencil, combat fruit flies, or deal with a slow-running drain. Don't we all. So I thought you might be interested in reading about what I do about these and other little problems that can dull your pleasure of preparing good food for your family.
Dobie pad for non-abrasive cleaning,
food sieve for sink, Goo Gone

       I'm a list maker. If I don't write it down, I'll forget to do it, whatever "it" is, so I NEED that pencil! I purchased this cute little metal basket with a magnet on the back and stuck it on the refrigerator, high up so small persons can't remove it or the pencils in it. The wall calender where I record appointments and other plans is nearby. I make sure after I write on it, that pencil gets back where it belongs.
      Dealing with fruit flies is more complicated. You know already that if you leave any sort of very ripe fruit, including tomatoes, on the counter for more than a day, you'll get fruit flies. The obvious solution is not to leave fruit out; keep it refrigerated or in an enclosed container. Now lets consider the real world, where you're working all day peeling those pears and don't get around to disposing of the waste, or one of the kids leaves an apple on the coffee table and it gets buried and forgotten under papers, toys, or whatever, or someone tosses a piece of fruit in the wastebasket, or spills juice on the carpet. So now what do you do? After getting the offending fruit out of the house, vacuum up any little buggers you can find, then set a trap for the rest. Be sure to empty your vacuum outside so that the flies don't escape into the house. For the trap, in a small jar mix a tablespoon of warm water, a teaspoon of molasses, and a pinch of yeast. Form a paper funnel with a quarter inch hole and attach it to the jar with tape. Set it near the worst infestation and wait. I rinse the trap out with hot water and reuse the jar if (when) I have the problem again.
       Ever see those advertisements for the spray to kill the trashcan odor because you don't want to take out your garbage when the bag isn't full? Someone in product sales came up with this one, and the product isn't trash bags. Use smaller bags, for Pete's sake, or just take the garbage out more regularly, or put what you know will stink in a bag in the freezer until garbage day. Why add more chemicals to the air you breathe? And an air freshener isn't going to eliminate the bacteria that's causing the odor.
       I rarely use that metal stopper that you'll find in most kitchen sinks. I've replaced it with a food strainer that really stops even small food particles from going down my drain. This does a lot to prevent clogs, but doesn't stop them all.  Our drain line may be particularly sensitive because of a right angle turn or two. It doesn't take much to start a clog and I suspect grease is what contributes most to the problem. I've started wiping off any grease, solid shortening or butter before washing measuring spoons and cups, skillets or the butter dish. I never pour hot grease down the drain! Instead of using a commercial chemical cleaner to clear a drain, try a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of hot vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then flush with very hot water. For an overnight fix, pour half a cup each of baking soda and salt down the drain, followed by a cup of boiling water. Flush the next morning with hot tap water. Following this procedure monthly could prevent a huge plumber's bill or having to use one of those drain snakes.
       Want to take a label off a jar? For some labels, filling the jar (or milk jug) with hot water makes peeling easy. Sometimes soaking works, though this may require a little scrubbing with a Dobie or steel wool pad to remove all the sticky. For really hard cases, I like Goo Gone. I've used this to take off masking tape that was used decades ago to label canning jars.
       I label my frozen food and those little white plant labels with a Sharpie pen. Since I rarely reuse a container or plant label for the same thing, I want the old markings gone. A wet finger tip dipped in baking soda and rubbed over the marking will remove it from some surfaces. I admit sometimes I'm forced to use Comet Cleanser to get really good results.
Organizers stretch storage space.
       When a recipe calls for half an onion, I refrigerate the unused portion in a snack bag. Works just as well for other small portions and takes up very little space.
       There's no such thing as enough storage space. I use plastic-coated organizers to stretch cupboard space, and I have two baskets in the freezer portion of the refrigerator to hold Ziploc bags of vegetables, cheese, meat or whatever. Ziploc bags don't stack well, and used to slip out and fall onto the floor whenever I opened the freezer door. Caused quite a bit of cussing on my part. The baskets pull out like drawers.
Drawer organizer: I love it!
       Speaking of drawers, before we remodeled our kitchen, my silverware went into a box where every piece had to be sorted into its niche. I hated doing that. Now silverware unloads quickly from the dishwasher into the sectioned holder in a drawer dedicated to such things. Such luxury!
       Keeping my glass-topped range clean is a challenge. It gets hard use and scrubbing it with harsh cleaners is a no-no. The Dobie cleaning pad is my answer. I use it to clean my no-stick pans too.
       These are some of the kitchen annoyances that I've found solutions for. Do you have suggestions or alternatives you'd like to share?

No comments:

Post a Comment