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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Shortcuts in the Kitchen

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shortcuts in the Kitchen


Have you ever watched the chefs on TV doing their thing? They make everything look so smooth and effortless. They don't have bowls and things all over the counters, and their clothes are spotless with not a hint of ketchup or food stains anywhere. How do they get away with it...I mean really? They get away with it, because they have a pocketful of "hidden secrets", keeping their kitchen and workplace pretty darn orderly and clean. Here's how you can share in the magic.

  • Run the full dishwasher before you go to bed at night. When it's breakfast time, you'll at least be able to use the breakfast dishes right out of there. Now there's less to put away! An added benefit is that your counters and sink stay clear throughout the day as you guy about your dish dirtying business.
  • Turn on the fan when you fry food. This will actually grab the superfine mist of oils coming from your frying pan and settling on your walls, floors, lights...just about every surface in your kitchen and sometimes beyond. Didn't you ever wonder why your cabinets and surfaces get that sticky, dusty film? This is why.
  • Get a larger size trashcan with a lid. One word....sanitary! You don't want to touch the trashcan during food prep.
  • Make a pile. With that being said about the trashcan, when I cut up vegetables or use things out of a package, I dump peelings, trimmings and wrappers in one big pile, then wrap it up and throw it away. No back and forth walking to the trashcan.
  • Clean as you go. This almost doesn't need an explanation. As you dirty a dish or utensil, clean it with soapy water and put it in the dish strainer. You'll be amazed how this cuts down on your work and mess. Who wants to clean a sink full of dirty dishes after slaving over a baked cake?
  • Pick one day a week to go through the refrigerator tossing out spoiled items and leftovers that have overstayed their welcome. How many times have you found that errant dish...weeks later? It's enough to spoil your appetite for a day!
  • Don't use serving dishes. Why dirty more dishes? Either fill everyone's plates from the stove, or use pretty casserole dishes to cook in. Dishes that can go from oven/stove to table and then to refrigerator if there are any leftovers are one of the best investments you can make.
  • Don't marinate meats in a dish. You'll have easier clean up by using a large Ziploc bag. Afraid of leakage? Put the bag into a shallow bowl in the refrigerator.
  • Line the bottom of your oven with tinfoil. No more drips turning into petrified and burned blobs. Just replace the foil when it gets yucky.
  • When baking a pie, put the pieshell onto a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil. Again, you are cutting down on clean-ups.
  • When you run out of a food item, immediately write it on a sheet attached to the side of your refrigerator. I have a paper pad with a magnet glued to the back. You can do this yourself with any pad of paper. Get magnets from your local craft store.
  • Aprons actually do have a real purpose and aren't just for show. Since I don't have a closet per se in my kitchen, I found some hooks, attached magnets on the back and stuck them on the side of my refrigerator beside the wall. It's a very handy, out of sight, but close place to put an apron.
  • Use a piece of waxpaper as your spoon holding area. If you don't have a fancy spoon holder, you don't need one. Whenever I cook, I get out a sheet of wax paper and lay it on the counter to catch my messes.
  • Cover microwave dishes with a piece of waxpaper. No splatters and no need to clean and rinse one of those plastic covers I see people never using anyway!
  • For baked-on food, I put the dish on a burner with some water and a few squirts of dish liquid. Especially if I am frying something, I leave the burner on for a minute, refill the pan with water and a squirt of dish soap and let it bubble up a bit. I have also heard you can put a used dryer sheet in there, and let it soak up the grease and residue.
  • Use a new sponge or kitchen rag everyday. I won't go into the science of what kind of germs...and just how many are in your rag the next morning. It's enough to make you sick...literally. Every evening, our rag goes into the laundry room, where it dries out and gets thrown into the next wash. Some folks also like to run their sponges through the dishwasher.
  • Teach your kids early on, to rinse a dish and then put it in the dishwasher. My kids have done this ever since they could reach the sink. It is so ingrained, they wouldn't think of leaving a dish on the table or sink. Less work for mom! If you don't have a dishwasher, you can actually store a dishpan under the sink to collect dirty dishes. Just rinse them well before putting them in there. Then, after dinner, run your very hot water into the sink, and let them soak for a bit before you clean them.
What nifty tips are you willing to share?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Marine Wife said...

Just found your site when I stopped by another site and saw that you'd linked to me. Thanks for the link.

Lots of great advice on your site!

October 22, 2007 at 8:38 PM  

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