Saturday, August 29, 2009

Deodorize Your Disposal

To clean, sharpen and deodorize your garbage disposal, dump a few handfuls of ice, a few lemon/lime/orange slices and a small box of baking soda (optional) down the drain with the water running and disposal turned on.

The ice will sharpen the blades, and the citrus and baking soda will help wash away the grease.

You will be left with a fresh citrus smell in your kitchen and it will extend the life of your disposal. And may extend the life of your ice maker, too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unpacking Your Kitchen

I love helping people unpack kitchens. I love to organize things and love the challenge of figuring out where things need to go. Sometimes friends are not picky about their kitchens and will give me free reign to unpack and organize their things.

Here are general rules I follow:

Put the silverware in a drawer underneath where your plates and bowls go. This way you have everything you need to set the table in one place. I recommend picking a cabinet/drawer closest to the table.

Place your glasses in the cabinet that is as close to the refrigerator as possible. You almost always fill a glass with ice before you place it on the table. Your mugs and teacups can go nearby.

Place large bowls and colanders you use often in a clean section under the sink. They are easy access but do not take up valuable cabinet space.

Your spices are supposed to be as far away from the heat as possible to make them last longer. I don't follow this rule because I didn't want to change everything (and heard the rule after I'd setup). But I usually do this for people when I help them. If where you'll prepare your food has an empty cabinet above, this is a perfect place for your spices.

Cooking utensils need to go in the drawer closest to wherever you are doing your food prep.

Make a baking section in your cabinets that has your mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc. in one place. If you wanted to keep baking soda, baking powder, etc. there, great! It is ideal if there is counter space below that for you to do your baking prep.

Place your dishcloths and washcloths in a drawer near the sink.

Think of the cabinets above the stove as a great place for pots and pans. They are easy access there, even though they are up high. You'll have to turn them upside down with the handles going sideways. This way they are easy to get in and out.

Store all of your plastic storage containers together. I personally like to buy all the same kind so they stack in each other with lids stacked beside. This makes less clutter in the cabinets. Square containers will maximize space and stack really easily in the fridge/freezer. I have the ziplock sandwich square ones. I do keep a few really small circular containers (the 1/2 cup kind made by glad) for sauces. They do not take up much room.

Stack baking dishes, casserole dishes, crockpots and other kitchen appliances in a lower cabinet. They are less likely to break if stored down low and easier to get out.

Put vases, serving platters, kitchen gadgets you only use 1 or 2 times a year in the highest/hardest to reach places.

Put your pot holders in a drawer as close to the oven as possible.

Don't forget the junk drawer. It needs to be as close to the phone as possible.

If you have any other suggestions, please post in the comments section!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Centerpiece Ideas

Looking for a new idea for a centerpiece? Look no further. The Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine has a Centerpiece of the Month section. There are some fabulous ideas and they are archived on the RR mag website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Ice Maker That Continues to Make

If you have an automatic ice maker in your freezer, you can periodically empty it out to extend the life of your ice maker. I called a local appliance repair service to verify this information today and they explained that when the ice drops down, if it is not used, when the machine goes through the defrost cycle over and over and no ice is allowed to drop down, it will cause your ice cubes to be smaller and there will be fewer cubes made when you really need them. So, once every month or so completely empty out the ice bin. Your ice will taste better and you can use the ice to fill up your cooler or to clean your garbage disposal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fresh Herbs vs. Dried Herbs

I prefer the taste of fresh herbs so I use them whenever possible. I am constantly having to adjust recipes either because it calls for dried herbs and I want to use fresh or vice versa.

The ratio is 3 to 1. If you are using fresh herbs in place of dried herbs, you should use 3 times as much. If you're out of fresh and need to use dried herbs, cut it by a third.

Check out this answer on for more information.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lost Lovie?

My daughter loved the teddy bear she'd slept with from infancy. It was the original Babies R Us gift card bear, which was discontinued.

"B" was misplaced when she was staying with my mother out of town. We searched high and low for the bear. Called every public place they visited. Tore Grandma's house apart.

I tried google, ebay, every site I could think of. No luck.

A friend emailed me about a lost toy service. I posted a "want ad" on the site several YEARS ago. Last week I received an email that a bear like ours had been located. I emailed the precious lady who responded to my ad right away. We received the bear in the mail today. My daughter is SO excited!

Please try the Plush Memories Lost Toy Search Service (a Dirty Butter site). And email your friends about it. It really works!

Natural Peanut Butter

If you eat as many PB&J's as we do you may be as concerned as I was to find out the leading brands contain high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. A few years ago we switched to the natural variety to avoid these two ingredients.

While I prefer the "no need to stir" brands (Skippy and JIF both have one), some of you may be peanut butter purists and may like the kind that has to be stirred and refrigerated.

Because the oil separates with this type, it can be a royal mess when trying to stir and get the oil evenly distibuted. So here's the tip: Store the jar of peanut butter upside down. Most of the oil will be at the bottom of the jar, making it so much easier to stir.

I also recommend Grandpa Witmer's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer ($12, I gave it to my mom for Christmas one year and she loves it.

I personally store my JIF Natural (no need to stir) upside down, as well, because minimal oil separation with any non-hydrogenated peanut butter is possible. I like the last bit to be just as creamy as the first.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Go Grapes Over This One

The produce associate at my local supermarket told me that you do NOT need to buy an entire prepackaged bag of grapes. The bag is a suggested amount but because they are sold by the pound you may open them, pull out the best ones and then bag them yourself. I usually pull out a "vine", give it a good shake to lose the squishy ones and go on my way. Saves money and you get the grapes you want. Just the right amount.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Time Is It, Anyway?

Ever noticed that you cell phone time, tv time and computer times are all a few minutes different, even though they may be automatically updated? Well now you can find out which one is right.

It is the job of the U.S. Navy to keep time for us. Here is a link to the government's website with the official time:

Set your house clocks to this time and you can be assured it is correct!