February 6, 2012

Simplify Your Life Series: Kitchen Wisdom

If you're looking to simplify a little bit of your life or achieve a major overhaul then join me for our ten part series as we work alongside Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner.  I pick a few points in each chapter, expound upon them and share some of my own tips.  Grab your favorite cuppa and join along!  (Start at the beginning HERE.)






IN THE KITCHEN
Kitchen Wisdom

This chapter is chock full of so much advice I want to share, but I'll touch on my absolute favorites and ya'll will just have to get the book and see for yourselves.  *smile*


Organization and Management  Arrange your kitchen to keep the items you need most often near you. I keep my flour, sugar, etc., on the counter by my mixer, which is all conveniently by the section of counter where I do my baking.  By that area I have a small crock that has small tools in it such as potato peeler, small mixing spoons, measuring spoons, strawberry capper, paring knives for the kids to use, etc. I have a large crock by my stove that has cooking utensils in it.  When you run out of the next-to-last of something in the kitchen or pantry write it on the grocery list. Store plastic lids in a plastic bin. I keep lids in one basket (from the dollar store) and small containers in another basket.  It makes left-over storage super easy when my containers are handy! Countertops are magnets for strays.  Once a month clean everything off your countertops and clean them.  When you put the items back that belong there, find a home for the strays or throw them away.


Keeping Appliances and Tools Clean  For firmer, fresher fruits and veggies line your refrigerator crisper with paper towels to absorb excess moisture and your fruits and veggies will keep their snap.  If your refrigerator has become super smelly place a saucer of fresh coffee grounds in a lower shelf.  Within a week replace if needed.  Once the smell is gone put an open box of baking soda in the door to keep it fresh.


Stove Use a paste of baking soda and water to clean a white enamel stove.  To easily clean a grease-splattered oven pour a cup of ammonia in an aluminum cake pan and put it in the oven and close the door.  (Oven should be off and cool.)  In the morning, remove the pan and discard the ammonia.  Wipe clean with a damp sponge.  If you do this every three or four weeks you might not ever need to use chemical cleaners or use the long and very hot "self-clean" setting on your oven!  Keep drips and splattering to a minimum by placing a pan with a bit of water on the rack below anything you think might drip or bubble over, such as a fruit pie.  The drips will then go in the water and not directly on the oven racks and oven floor where they will scorch and harden.  Allow metal baking sheets and cake pans to cool completely before washing them.  Washing them while they are still hot will cause the metal to warp, and it will never bake evenly again.


The Joy of Cast Iron  I do not own any cast iron cookware, but it's on my list of things to do!  From what I hear it's the best way to cook!  If you care for it properly it could last ages and require very little oil to cook with.  Where to buy it? Susan suggests garage or estate sales, flea markets, etc.  Buying a piece of cast iron cookware is best to buy pre-loved!  You need to season your cast iron cookware by washing the cast iron in warm sudsy water, rinse and dry thoroughly.  Then using a paper towel, coat the entire pan--inside, outside, and handle-- with peanut oil.  Place in a 300 degree oven for two to three hours, then remove from the oven and wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel.  Do this several times before cooking with the pan. When you're ready to cook, preheat your pan for a few minutes over medium heat.  Don't cook acidic foods like tomatoes in a fairly new pan since the acid will attack the seasoning. The author goes more in depth in the book giving advice on reclaiming rusty cast iron, and how to further care for your cast iron.


Kitchen Energy Savers  Freezers run most efficiently when they're about 75 percent full. If you need filler, milk jugs filled with water are good stand-ins. Set your refrigerators to 38-40 degrees and make sure they are not so crowded that air can't circulate.  Let hot foods cool naturally on the counter before putting them away. When bringing large amounts of water to a boil, such as for pasta, keep the lid on -- the water will come to a boil faster.

For more advice on cast iron skillets, taking care of table ware, and more energy saving tips in the kitchen read on in Susan Waggoner's book Simple Country Wisdom.


Join me in the coming weeks as we unwrap the present that is our lives.  The next step in our series is The A-Z of Food (wonderful tips to simplify your kitchen creations!).  Please share this series by placing the button in the side bar of your blog or share on Facebook by clicking the button at the very bottom of this post.




* photos courtesy of Country Living

This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop.







2 comments:

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

There's a few tips in there I had not heard of before - the paper towels in the crisper and letting your bakeware cool before washing. That's good to know as I used to think clean it before it forms a hard crust!
I used to have a set of cast iron saucepans but I found they were too small for the amounts I cook these days and as tomato based sauces are a regular stove cooked meal I have found stainless steel to be the best for our needs. The cast iron pots were heavy to lift from stove to work bench and sink too! So we invested in a top quality 'copper in the base' set and they were so worth it. They are so easy to clean and cook evenly and beautifully. I do like the idea of an enamel covered cast iron Dutch oven though to use in the oven as well on the stove top. Very expensive here though for the size of dish I require but on my 'kitchen wishlist'!

Treasures Evermore said...

Great list. I LOVE my cast iron pots and pans. I have purchased all mine from antique stores. I only use teflon for scrambled eggs. I know teflon is cancer causing so I try to limit the amount of time I use the pan. Plus I never use high heat. I just cannot seem to do scrambled eggs in cast iron without major sticking.

Anyway, great post.

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