IN THE KITCHEN
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