Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures
If you're the type of person who spends at least a little time in the kitchen, you likely have run into some common problems related to the organization, flow and cleanliness of your food prep - and maybe eating - space. While they can seem impossible to solve, especially if you've had to deal with them for a long time, there are always creative solutions to help you love your kitchen a bit more. Try these seven on for size.
When you pick up your dish rags, are you suddenly attacked by an odor that's disgustingly reminiscent of the sweatiest locker room you've ever been in? Even if you do your best to wring them out after every use and hang them to dry, you may still find that they never seem clean after the first use.
You have a couple of options to make those dish towels go from rank to fresh. The first is to use them one time and then immediately launder them in the hottest water possible with grease-fighting detergent. The second is to boil them in a mixture of water and vinegar to loosen any stinky oils from the fibers. Afterwards, air dry them completely or put them in the dryer on high.
You'd hope that all kitchen interior designers would be focused on providing great lighting options, but that's not always the case. If your lighting is subpar, it makes it tough to keep the area spotless, prepare food safely and see what you have in your pantry. The answer is to work with a specialist who can help you figure out the right kitchen lighting for your kitchen's shape and size. Suddenly, everything will come back into focus.
Mildew and sponges go together like peanut butter and jelly, only in a much less appetizing way. Instead of giving in to the notion that there's nothing you can do about the sponge, take action. After every use, dampen the sponge and then put it in the microwave for 60 seconds. Be careful when you remove it - the sponge will be hot. However, it won't have that nasty aroma anymore because the bacteria harbored in the sponge materials will have been slain. This also extends the lifespan of your sponge, because you won't be tempted to throw it away before its usefulness is over.
Unless you're the most organized person in the world, or you only use your refrigerator and freezer combo sparingly, you have probably had the experience of opening the door only to have food spill out. If you're lucky, you can catch the food before it hits the floor. If you're unlucky ... well, there's always the mop and bucket. Avoid the pileup dilemma by using plastic storage containers. Label them if the people in your household can't seem to remember in which to put yogurts versus breads. This also maximizes the area, so every bit of your cold storage space is available for use.
The range hood, oven door and countertop are just a few of the locations where greasy film tends to remain despite your regular kitchen scrub-downs. In order to remove the grease, you need to use a special cleanser. Though there are degreasers on the market, many of them contain toxic ingredients. Ironically, vinegar - a totally natural degreaser - is both cheap and effective. Plan on using some elbow grease, though. Grease is stubborn, although it will eventually give way.
Are crumbs in your kitchen pantry and drawers making you feel like Hansel and Gretel have been sneaking into the house? The secret to avoiding crumbs is essentially twofold. First, close all packages tightly, whether they are snack items, cereals, grains or baking products. Second, store potentially crumby products in mesh baskets in drawers and cupboards. That way, if spills occur, the crumbs will fall through the mesh baskets and you can clean them up with a vacuum hose attachment.
As long as your kitchen isn't tiny, you can quickly expand your prep space by adding a rolling cart, such as this type from Amazon. Then you'll have a movable island.
It's time to stop complaining about all those kitchen cons and begin dishing up the goodies like a pro. Use some creativity and you'll have a sweet-smelling, functional food storage and creation oasis.
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