It’s Saturday! Call me crazy, but one of my most favorite things about the weekend is actually spending time at home, taking lots of naps, binge watching Supernatural on Netflix, and having plenty of time to experiment on a new recipe! However, no matter how much time I have, one of my least favorite things about cooking is how messy the whole business gets. Onion skins everywhere, my hands are smelly, my whole apartment smells even worse… ugh…
Today, I want to share some of my favorite tips & tricks about keeping a clean (and good-smelling) kitchen before, during, and after cooking! The following “hacks” are things that I’ve picked up along the way from personal experience, things I’ve Googled, and things I’ve been taught by people. They are tried & true, I promise! I really hope you find some of these useful!
REALLY FAST CLEANUP. This one might be silly for you, but I use this method every single time I cook for easy cleanup. Don’t get rid of those plastic produce bags you get from the grocery store! Instead, save them and use them to clean up kitchen scraps. Spread a bag on the counter next to your cutting board (or in the sink) and sweep scraps such as vegetable peelings onto it as you prep. When you’re done, just gather up the bag and throw it away BUT MAKE SURE YOU COMPOST YOUR FRUIT & VEGGIE SCRAPS!
HOW TO DISPOSE USED OIL. I don’t mean deep frying oil, I mean oil as in when you sautè something and end up with a bunch of oil afterwards or if you cook bacon and there’s a gallon of grease on your pan and you don’t know how to dispose of it correctly. Whatever you do, don’t throw it down your drain! Once your pan is off the heat, pour some flour onto it and stir. Once the oil has been absorbed by the flour, let it cool and discard.
GETTING RID OF KITCHEN STENCH AFTER COOKING. How is it that food smells sooo good while it’s on the stove/oven, but once you’re done cooking, it leaves the MOST unpleasant smell throughout the house? I’ve tried lighting candles, keeping the fan on my A/C, sometimes even cracking my front door open, but no matter what, the smell can stay for DAYS. Good thing those days are gone – here’s my favorite tip to freshen the air: Simmer 3-4 cinnamon sticks (or 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon) in 2 cups of water in low heat until the pleasant smell of cinnamon takes over. Warning: you might end up wanting to bake cinnamon rolls after this.
FRESH HANDS. Yes, it’s common knowledge that lemon & lime juice are often used to wash away lingering odors from hands after working with smelly ingredients such as garlic, onions, or eating crawfish (yummmm), etc. However, I find that citrus doesn’t completely get rid of the smell. For these tough cases, wash your hands with a little bit of mouthwash. Any inexpensive brand works.
NO DOUGH HANDS. Working with dough with your hands can get really sticky sometimes, and when you wash your hands, it takes FOREVER to wash off the dough. To shorten your scrubbing time after kneading sticky dough, “wash” your hands with a handful of flour or cornmeal instead of soap. Then, rinse your hands with COLD water. (Hot water causes the starches in the dough to gelatinize, which requires more scrubbing.)
KEEP WOODEN SPOONS CLEAN. I love using wooden spoons to cook, but I avoid using it because they retain yesterday’s tomato sauce and transfer into my tomorrow’s creamy chicken noodle soup. I’ve found that the best way to clean wooden spoons is to scrub it with baking soda and water.
CITRUS FOR GARBAGE DISPOSALS. Done squeezing lemon & limes or eating oranges & grapefruits? Take a couple of pieces of peel in your garbage disposal, a few ice cubes (if you have some), run some water down the drain, then turn on the disposal. The rough peels help to clean the blades and the citrus oils do a GREAT job of naturally freshening things up. This is something that I do pretty often since it requires almost no effort!