Mar 302013
 

Subscribe to only my BEST recipes

Bread Machines—The Jetson Invention.

If you have been following me at all, you will have discovered by now that I am hopelessly devoted to my bread machine.

I learned how to make bread when I was a newlywed—learned to knead it by hand, etc.  Then my mother in law bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven, it was so wond-a –mus!  (And I still have it—over 30 years later!)  It is a work horse, for sure.

Kitchen aid

Next, I bought myself a Cuisinart Food processor, because they were all the rage.  I learned to make my bread dough in the see-through processor, and was thoroughly impressed with the speed of this magnificent invention.  I bought all the blades and played with it whenever I needed to cut up or mix or grind up anything.  I even remember when we had used up our hamburger from our beef allotment and so I made my own burger using the round steak.  I kind of wore it out—so I updated several times over. The one on my counter right now has a stubborn misfiting  part  that insures the safe use of the processor – and I really haven’t figured out how to go around the safety feature so that I can make is perform more easily. It gets little use now days, and has been retired from the bread dough business long ago.

Cuisinart

So after the food processor, the bread machine arrived on the scene.  I was incredulous!  How could this be?  Load up the ingredients and push a button?  It seems so,   so Jetson-like! (Okay, I am most certainly dating myself—if you don’t know who the Jetsons are, Google it.)  Anyways, when they first came out, the cost was prohibitive.  But soon, they became more affordable, so I splurged.

Bread Machine

And I have never looked back.  In fact, I am probably on my 5th   or 6th  machine.  And right now, I have two in my pantry.  Because.  Because sometimes they don’t make a large enough recipe, so that I have to use two.  And because, whenever I see a decent one at the thrift store or garage sale, I pick them up, and usually for under $5.  I clean them up, test drive them and then download the manual from the internet.  I have purchased them for my daughters and friends, and family members,  because I just cannot imagine anyone not owning one.

So, why am I so infatuated?  Here is my fascination:  measuring the ingredients and starting the machine only dirties up two– maybe three items. (And if you read my dishwasher diaries, you know how important this feature is to me.)  Then, you push a button and voila’– you are on your way to perfect bread!

But let me add this one caveat- which is likely the reason why people discard their machine.  Unless I simply do not have the time to do otherwise, I do not bake my bread in my bread machine.  I am hopelessly devoted to the dough cycle of these marvelous inventions.  In my book, (whatever  book  that means) they make the very best bread dough this side of manna heaven.  The fact that the non-stick bread pan means that you use less flour, and have a warm motor with powerful kneading action means that your dough creation is perfect for most any breads that anyone would want to put into a regular oven.

Simply put, I just don’t think any aforementioned invention quite measures up to this magical machine!  I just hope to high heavens that they never quit making them—or that I never deplete my back up supply.  I just cannot imagine taking a step backward in time!

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Mar 092013
 

Subscribe to only my BEST recipes

So what is so noteworthy about my dishwasher that I would write on my blog to tell you about it?

Well,  let me ask you something:  Do you not loathe certain household chores?

Unloading the dishwasher is at the top of my list, or close to it.  Right there along with changing out the toilet paper roll, cleaning the fridge, wiping that greasy cabinet above your stove…  You probably assume that I hate housework.  In actuality, I enjoy housework.  Love it, even.

But there are certain tasks that just aggravate me; unloading the dishwasher being one of them.

So my strategy is this:  minimize how often I have to make myself do it and perfect my technique so it is either:

1. Fast – well sort of

2. Efficient – depends on your definition, or course

3. And, fun.

Yeah, don’t think #3 will ever happen.  But WT heck—I will give it a try.

 

 

So, If you haven’t read my previous posts about the dishwasher, take a minute and speedread them.

Dishwasher diaries start here.  And Part 2.  Make a comment so I know you are on the same page, or the same rack with me….

In Part 2, I came up with an idea:  load my silverware tray in such a way as to expedite the download process!  I was supposing that my kids would really think I had gone overboard with this one.  I haven’t asked them yet… Hope they buy what I’m sellin’ here.  They, too, help load my dishwasher. (At least they are supposed to…)

The strategy is this:  when inserting said utensils, categorize them!  Put the knives here, spoons there, salad forks in this slot, regular forks in the middle. (Or “foiks”, as my grandson called them—we were so sad when he started to say it right.  Can you relate?)  It can be a game of sorts – well kinda.  But the end result is <sigh> a work of art!  I might shed tears here…

As I was stationing each piece, I noted a few important guidelines to keep an eye on:

  1. Don’t allow spooning!  That goes for forks, knives, spatulas…  If you let it happen, things could get dirty.  Just sayin.  Mix it up a bit by angling while inserting.
  2. Don’t place the big spoons next to the little spoons.  Or the salad forks next to the regular forks.  You might have to get out your glasses to identify what real estate you designated for each dweller.  Try to replicate the position and categorization every time you load up. (Hey—for those of us in menopause, every bit of long term memory utilization is essential!)
  3. Save some room for silverware “wanna bees”—they should be in their own cubbie so putting them to bed is a one step process.  (Ex: those baby spoons or Mickey Mouse forks can share the same dishwasher slot and the same drawer slot in your kitchen.)

100_1388

 

Am I straining at gnats?  Yes.  Yes I am.  But think of it this way: if this technique banks 14 seconds each time you unload the dishwasher, multiply that times 6 times a week, times 52 weeks a year, times the next 10 years… well, you can do the math!

Think of all the other dreaded tasks you can do with allllllll the time you have saved!

Besides, I made another observation.  This one will please my germaphobe readers–When you load up this way, unloading means less touch on the food hauling portion of the silverware, a method to aspire to, since those germs are all our common adversary.  And that’s all I’m going to say about the silverware tray.

After all, how much can a person write about loading your dishwasher, anyway?

Feb 272013
 

Subscribe to only my BEST recipes

So it is 10pm, Tuesday night.  My dishwasher has completed the scrub cycle.  It waits.  I procrastinate.  My least favorite job in the whole wide world awaits my attention.  I know – slight exaggeration.  But you get the point.

I do NOT like to unload my dishwasher.

100_1321

I open it to let the dishes cool.  I attempt to dodge the steam, but I can’t avoid a 3 second facial from the Kenmore carwash.  I tell myself, who unloads hot dishes anyway?  Open it up and save it for the morning. I can do it while watching the Today Show.

But I remind myself of the lesson I learned so long ago:  completing the chore that takes 10 minutes in the morning is not wise—no, it is idiocy.  For some reason that I have not yet comprehended, morning minutes are so much shorter than any other minutes in a day.  Don’t dispute me—any mother that has ever had to get three kids bathed, dressed, fed and buckled in their car seat by 8:00 knows this is true.  And this truth never departs from you –even when aforementioned kids are now grown, married and doing the same drill themselves with their own three kidlets.  It’s just that those years of the routine have trained me that wisdom dictates to “do it the night before”.  Fast forward 30 years, it is not because of the car seat drill, but because your job and boss don’t care that you are late because “I was unloading the dishwasher.”

So, like a corporate day planner that I am (not), I decide that I will make a game out of it.  Unload it with as few steps as possible—assemble trays to group like items so to save mileage. Or start with the silverware tray first, the plastic next, the glasses last.  Like choreography  — Dancing with the Stars.

I settle on this:  perhaps I can persuade myself that it isn’t such an onerous task if I time myself!  It seems like it takes eons to empty the monster; perhaps I am deceived!  So, if it is true that time flies while you are having fun, the converse must be true.  The clock crawls when you have to do the dreaded job.  Timing the task will convince me that it really doesn’t take THAT MUCH TIME!

So I hunt down my phone and open the ap with the timer.  It reminds me that it is 10pm and that I should really be in bed snoring by now. But I digress… (when I should be getting undressed)…mumbling that now famous poetic prose:  Git ‘er done!

100_1324

 

So, start I do.  I quickly realize that my strategy to utilize “trays to transport”  won’t work.  Stupid.

I begin to:  compile, then transfer. (Sounds like a Fed Ex commercial…)

I mentally group like items that share common real estate in my cupboards.  Using both hands, I gather and cradle as many items as is safely possible and quickly traverse the kitchen before my arms have to juggle.  Note here:  this is not recommended for glasses or knives, unless you really want a good excuse why you cannot execute this chore. (Now that sounds like CSI)

Continue the strategy—group, then cradle.  Traverse, then place.  Pirouette, then Tours en l’air.

No, wait, that last move will eat up time.

Now the last move, no, second-to-the-last-move: a reconnaissance sweep of the ungrouped items that dictates inefficient moves about your cupboards.  (Military channel here)  A cutting board here, a measuring cup there.

Lastly—the silverware trays.  Evidence that you really did eat what you cooked.  The spatula that stirred the eggs, the steak knife that sliced the tenderloin.   Ambulate and relocate.

While emptying the tray, a revelation!  On the loading end, why not group the knives with the knives, the spoons with the spoons … (the thought crosses my mind: what will my kids think?) Nonetheless, I determine to take that strategy next time I get loaded.  I mean load it up.  I mean—well, you get what I am saying.  My new take on “Git ‘er done.”

Done, I take a bow (only in my head).  OOPS!  I am so taken with my performance that I forget to stop the timer.  Get the phone, the phone!  Wake it up, slide to unlock and press STOP!

100_1325

6 minutes, 56 seconds.  Deduct 4 seconds for waking the phone and stopping the timer.

100_1326

 

I am pleased.  Pleasantly surprised.  Under 7 minutes!  Why, oh why, do I think this takes eons??  Can it be that my dislike of this chore makes it seem ever so long to complete?

I decide that it is time to rethink my hatred.

Until my eyes scan the kitchen—

the dish drainer is piled two feet high….

 

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Feb 232013
 

Subscribe to only my BEST recipes

I sometimes say that a full dishwasher means I’ve had a wonderful day—translated:  I’ve either cooked a bunch or I’ve had a “bunch” of people to my house.

Now my question:

Is unloading your dishwasher your least favorite chore to do? Does it feel like you are scratching a chalkboard or scrubbing the toilet?  Here is my confession: my dislike of this chore is so great, that I have acquired a skill that I have perfected: the mastery of loading my dishwasher to the max.

I  so dislike unloading it, that I load it to the brim—I mean, I maximize every nook and cranny, utilize two-tier loading, and juggle and rearrange

until …

until I surrender and put in the detergent  and then push the start button.

But alas, a great side benefit—you save on energy and detergent costs!

I have “uploaded” a few pics to demonstrate my techniques on loading my dishwasher– try them yourself, and please, if you have some tricks to get loaded, please post them at the end!

Want to know my strategy?

Well,  here are a few of my loading secrets:

First of all—I must begin by saying that I do not rinse my dishes-UNLESS—it is easier to remove the solid particles by rinsing into the disposer.  Also, try not to leave your dishes out to air dry– load them up and keep the door to the dishwasher closed.  This will keep the humidity high and the drying to a minimum.

Starting from the innermost top corner, put items in, fitting glasses together and traversing the conventional rows to maximize every inch.  Don’t scatter your dishes, compact them like you’re are playing Tetris. Let no inch go unloaded!

 

100_1265

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you are loading this part, less dirty dishes can bridge over the top of the glasses.  For example, the cereal bowl that just has milk and sugary residue will get clean even if it is a canopy over your coffee cup and the kids’ sippy cup underneath.

 

100_1254

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do the same on the bottom tray of your dishwasher, placing the dirtiest dishes directly onto the rack and canopying less soiled items over the top.  (Aim for a tilted positioning.) Never mind if it is a bit of a balancing act to get it all placed.  (Some items, like drinking glasses really only need rinsing and the heat of the steam to sterilize them.)

 

100_1262

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lay spatulas and cooking utensils horizontally across the silverware, placing the length of the item into the silverware tray handles so that they stay put.  Horizontal is the key here-who says that they have to stand upright?  The vertical placement usually ends up stopping the sprayer arm from doing its thing.

 

100_1253

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, don’t neglect this sneaky technique:  “impale” glasses on top of tall silverware in your silverware compartment.  Surprise, they will get clean while they piggy back on the silverware tray in your dishwasher.

 

100_1264

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay next: see if you can tuck narrow lids and small plates between the glasses and the outermost part of your racks.  Put the dirty side facing the middle of the rack. Tuck them in wherever they fit.  Remember, we are not creating a work of art or an organized masterpiece!  Martha Stewart is not going to score your “dishwasher loading” style!

 

100_1261

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, take a risk; place a few flat pieces on top of it all, making sure that your rack will not be obstructed when closing.  If these items don’t get perfectly clean, at least they come out sanitized and only need a quick dunk in regular dish soap in your sink.  (What have you lost? They haven’t filled up your sink or “decorated” your countertop while you procrastinated.)

Lastly, be sure that the sprayer arm is not prevented from twirling.  The dishwasher has to be able to do its “dance” in order to clean the crowd you jammed into it.  Check for any possibility of hanging “chandeliers” that would stop the party—this is a real show stopper on your chances to have a clean load.

 

100_1262

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now pay attention here:  It is imperative that you use good quality dishwasher soap!  This is one time where cheap doesn’t cut it.  If you use cheap, then you cannot jam your trays like this—you will have to opt for the “load it, unload it more often” technique–my least favorite option, your least economical practice.

So spend more and buy the better brands- you save in water and energy costs. I came to this realization around 2010 after the makers of dishwasher detergent had to remove the phosphates that did such a great job cleaning our dishes.  Why? We have government to thank—for more information than you care to know, find out why Spokane, Washington is to blame for the lame detergents, and why, in the end, our  sacrifice may all be in vain… “Another Triumph for the Greens–To go with toilets that don’t flush and light bulbs that don’t light, we now have dishwashers that don’t wash.”

So, a lot of people ran out and dropped hundreds for new dishwashers when the new eco-friendly soaps came out.  So sad, too bad.  Wasn’t necessary!

My recommendations: Amway’s Legacy of Clean Dishwasher Detergent.   Easy, simple.  No, I do not sell Amway.

Another product, Lemi Shine , is a great booster to use with your regular product, provided you remember to add it.  They  make a number of dishwasher products.  Cascade does well, but don’t get the one that has bleach in it.  It does what bleach is supposed to do, but I wasn’t happy with the white on some of my colored plastic ware, and you probably won’t be either.  Experiment with several brands, and if you aren’t happy, contact the company and take them up on their money back guarantee—you will be letting them know that the product disappoints!

A FB friend also gave me this tip:  add 1/2 t. of Trisodium Phosphate to your detergent!  I plan to try it–  watch for an update.

This may seem like useless information to you— or maybe you are one that LIKES to load and unload  ( a strange sense of accomplishment to your day, maybe?) Or, you still have kids at home who love chores, or a husband who makes points by unloading the dishwasher for you. Or, perhaps you own a hopelessly wimpy dishwasher—my condolences to you.

Mine is a Sears Kenmore Elite dishwasher that I bought off the display floor because it had been returned for some reason (that I never could figure out why.)  I got a great buy on it! I usually run it on the scrub cycle.

I have none of the above, so I’m still stuck doing the chore I hate most.  So get loaded to the max, I do.  My life is more exciting with one less load to unpack.  (But may I confess? Each “unload” is a discovery event to see what new technique I have discovered—not a cure for cancer, but satisfies the scientist in me.)

By the way, the pics that I have posted:  they were two separate loads.  Here is the only “unclean” item:

 

100_1267

 

 

 

 

 

 

It boasted the remnants of my Simply Great Chili.  I think it was “spooning” with another spoon…

I will keep you posted on any new methods to my madness. You may discover that inner mad scientist thing in your head, too…

Feb 192013
 

Subscribe to only my BEST recipes

 

I use a strange unordinary technique in my kitchen.

Yes, time for true confessions.

I fry in my soup pot.

100_1243

 

Not a life changing confession, I agree, but I am telling you this because you may want to change your frying habits, too.

It won’t kill you to try it.  I can tell you that it won’t even hurt, I promise.

See, if you try it, you may find out that it works just as well with one added benefit, one HUGE added benefit:  you won’t have to wipe up grease spatters the way you do with a shallow fry pan!  I even recommend that you try it with hamburgers (although I must admit it to be a bit tricky to turn the patties).   Does it work? Yes, yes it does.  And I have been doing it so long that I question who ever said that frying needs to happen in shallow, grease splattering fry pans.  Face it—they are designed to disseminate a fine mist of bacon, beef or pork grease that lurks in your fan filters, stove grates and on the — you know, the cabinet above your stove that you hate so much to wipe down and never do because the sticky residue never comes off with one wipe or even two and then you pull out the big gun, the degreaser spray and then you have tiny rolls of greasy dust bunnies that beg to be removed with a paper towel that also releases little fibers of….

Well, you know the rest.  And if you don’t, then you probably have never cleaned that cabinet above your stove.

So now you know.  Frying in a soup pot makes perfect sense. Right?

 

 Posted by at 8:29 pm
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers