Sherry’s Handy Kitchen Tips

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by Sherry Kline

azfamily.com

Posted on October 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 7 at 9:47 PM

As I have said before, Fall is my favorite time of year to clean and organize my house, especially the kitchen. After months of ignoring it, my house is whining big time to get my attention. I have already shared with you my pantry organizing and wanted to give you a few more hints. During my Fall Cleaning, I pull all my baskets out of the cupboards along with all other items and clean the shelves. I use my Counter Top Cleaner that has peroxide, vinegar and essential oils of tea tree oil (which are all antibacterial) and lemongrass (for a nice, fresh smell). A good hint from my Auntie Vel is to sprinkle crumbled up dry bay leaves on the pantry shelves to combat those little, black bugs that like to hang out. Since using bay, I haven't had any problems. I also put most of my opened dry ingredients in clear plastic or glass jars. That way I can see the contents easily and it also creates another barrier for those bugs. To transfer the ingredients to the jars, I use an envelope. I cut a large triangle from one end of the envelope, then snip the tip off the corner, open it into a cone and the ingredients pour into the jar very easily. For large amounts, use a big manila envelope.

Sometimes (ok, ok; a lot of the times!) my honey, for some strange reason, leaks and gets the shelf all sticky. Jams sometimes do that to me and I have to admit it drives me crazy. To keep my stress to a minimum, I have started placing these items (that seem to leak at every opportunity) on a small baking sheet and place it on the pantry shelf. I can slide it out towards me to access all  items and if they leak, I pull the tray out and clean it at the sink.

I always seem to accumulate dried spices and was having a hard time finding a place where I could find what I needed without searching through the cupboard. I tried the stacked organizers for the cupboard but that seemed to take up too much room and the same with the spice organizer for drawers. I finally got rid of the plastic organizer and just laid the jars down in the drawer (in alphabetical order, of course!) where I can quickly open it and find what I need at a glance. My drawers are also deep enough where I can double stack them.

To eliminate the search for the right lids for my pots and pans, I put them all (from large to small) in a plastic foot bathtub and place it in the cupboard. To get a lid, I just pull the tub out of the cupboard, get it and put the tub back. Nesting pots and pans saves space in the cupboard, but I preserve the stainless-steel interiors by inserting large coffee filters between pans. You can use soft paper towels, too.

I have utilized the baskets to hold my small appliances and their attachments. It is so nice to grab the basket and have it all together. How many times have you gone in search for the beaters and can't remember which drawer you stuck them in? I can't count the times I've done that over the years. I finally started using those baskets and am always grateful for the handiness of it.

I like to hang a dish towel from my oven door for convenience but it always seems to fall off when I use it. I found an idea online that works so well: I make it into a loop by attaching Velcro strips to two ends, one on the front and one on the back. You can stitch it in place but I use the iron-on Velcro strips since I'm allergic to sewing. I have also done this as a hostess gift. When the post-holiday sales are going on, I scoop up the kitchen towels and have them for the next holiday season. If I'm real efficient (I've been known to be that way on occasion!), I will put the Velcro on them before I store them away. Such an easy thing to grab as is or to use as a wrapping for another gift item.

Whenever using your kitchen string, has it rolled away from you, fallen to the floor and disappeared under the refrigerator? No? Well, it has in my kitchen! I found a great idea using a terra-cotta flower pot to store it and use for dispensing. I place the pot over the ball of twine, thread it through the drainage hole and pull out the string and snip the length needed for tying herb bouquets or trussing a chicken.  This also works well with balls of twine and cord in your crafts corner, too. I have one friend who painted her pot with bright colors to match her kitchen and leaves it on the counter as a decorative item.

My Auntie Vel uses plastic protectors to place her recipes in and then stores them in a 3-ring binder, divided by index pages for each category. It is so easy to tear out a recipe, place it in a pocket then in the binder. Another idea I saw online was to purchase photo protectors to keep recipe cards organized and free of spills. You insert the card in each pocket by category. Now my aunt has all her recipes in one place. So convenient!

These are just a few ideas for the kitchen and I hope one or more of them has helped you get motivated to get your kitchen in good shape. It's Fall, ya know, and time to celebrate by making your kitchen organized and ready for the holidays, which are fast approaching!

Sher's Counter Top Cleaner
32-ounce plastic spray bottle
2 cups water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. dish soap
3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lemongrass or lavender

-Pour all ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before each use.

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