Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Deep Cleaning A Stainless Steel Sink

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I have developed the habit of deep cleaning my sink once a week to disinfect it and make it shine.  Here is how I do it:

I fill the sink with hot water and bleach and allow it to soak for about 1/2 hour.  Meanwhile, I take the stove knobs off and throw them into the hot water to disinfect them as well.  Stove knobs can get very dirty from food splatters.  I then use the water in the sink and wipe down the stove, fridge, countertops, and microwave paying close attention to the handles on the appliances.  I also wipe down the backsplash and window sill. 

After that I drain the sink and put in some comet.  Using an SOS pad, I scrub the sink and around the faucet.  Comet can be hard to fully rinse off so be sure to rinse it off well.  If you don't like using harsh chemicals, you can use vinegar and baking soda instead.  For the final step, I dry the sink with a paper towel and then spray it and the faucet with Windex, which brings out the shine.

It always feels good to do this and to see an empty, shiny sink! 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How to Cook Asparagus Perfectly

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One of my pet peeves is overcooked, mushy asparagus and I admit when I first made asparagus, it turned out this way.  After making a couple more attempts at cooking asparagus, I finally mastered it.

Asparagus should be tender yet crisp when it is cooked.  It can be grilled, roasted, pan fried, steamed or boiled.  I prefer boiling it.  To prepare the asparagus for cooking, snap the ends off first.  I do not cut the ends with a knife but I snap the end off with my hands.  Asparagus tends to have a certain spot on it that snaps off easily.  Once all of the ends have been snapped off each spear, drop them into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, a little longer if the spears are thick.  I always set a timer to keep track of the boiling time.  You can stick a fork into one of the spears to see if it is tender.

Once the asparagus has boiled enough, drain and serve immediately.  I like to serve asparagus with hollandaise sauce but you can eat it plain or with some butter.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My New (Old) Favourite Kitchen Item

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My husband has had a cast iron frying pan for years, even before we met, and it has been sitting in the back of our kitchen cabinet for 22 years without being used much.  I was intimidated by the cast iron because it requires more maintenance than a non-stick pan.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled out the cast iron pan because I was becoming concerned about cooking on a non-stick pan and the potential chemicals that could be getting into our food. 

Because the pan hadn't been used in years, I rubbed some olive oil onto the whole interior of the pan.  I then fried some bacon in it and it cooked very evenly.  A few days later, and after a few Google searches, I became adventurous and cooked a pork roast in the pan.  Here is the beauty of cast iron:  you can sear your roast on the stove top then immediately transfer the cast iron into the oven!  This would also work for roasting vegetables.  The pork roast came out very moist.

I have figured out how to clean the cast iron and season it after each use.  I wash it in soapy water and rub it with a scouring pad.  I then rinse it and dry it with paper towel.  Once it is dry, I buff the pan with olive oil (or canola oil) to season it.  Seasoning means to make it non-stick.  After the oil is applied it can be placed in the oven for about 30 min at 400 degrees.  You do not have to put it in the oven every time you use it but it should be buffed with oil each time. 

Please keep in mind that when cooking with cast iron, you will need to use an oven mitt when touching the handle because it will get hot as well.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Reducing Stress This Christmas

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This Christmas, I am giving myself a gift by reducing stress of the holiday season.  Firstly, I started by shopping early this  year (about a month ago).  I still have a few things to get but hope to get everything wrapped up soon.  I am also going to grab stocking stuffers tomorrow night so I am not heading out at the last minute on Christmas Eve.  

I also opted out of a couple of gatherings.  I did not attend my office holiday party because it usually causes me some stress because I have to book a hotel room and stay overnight after the party because I live too far from work to take a cab (about 1 1/2 hour drive).  My firm does not pay for the room and I didn't feel like paying for it, packing and preparing to be away from the family for one night.  I heard it was a great party at a wonderful venue but I am still glad I didn't attend.  

Also, my family will not be going to a family dinner on Christmas Day.  We have been invited but declined the invitation.  I do most of the Christmas shopping, decorating, etc. so by Christmas day I am exhausted!  I enjoy staying at home and cooking and baking throughout the day and watching the kids enjoy their gifts.  Our lives are so busy and this is one of the only days of the year that we do not have to go anywhere.  I love doing that!  I hope to stay in my pyjamas the whole day.

I feel that the holiday season puts a lot of pressure on everyone - financially and emotionally.  This is not what the holiday season should be about.  Do you like to stay at home on Christmas day or do you prefer to go to family gatherings?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bacon Wrapped Dates With Goat Cheese

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Last week, the staff in my department went out for our annual Christmas lunch at an Italian restaurant in the downtown Toronto. We ordered bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.  I was a bit skeptical at first, bacon with dates?  But then again, anything wrapped in bacon is great!   They were delicious and disappeared immediately.  The sweetness of the date blends perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon.  I am going to make these over the holidays.  I am sure my kids will devour them!  This is the recipe:
  • Medjool dates
  • thin sliced bacon
  • goat cheese
  • toothpicks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice dates lengthwise down the middle and remove the pit.  Spoon a small amount of goat cheese in the opening.  Cut a slice of bacon in half and wrap around the date. Then secure it with a toothpick.  Repeat these steps for as many dates as you wish to serve.  Place the dates on a baking sheet with raised edges (you don't want the grease to drip on your oven).  For ease of cleaning, you can line the baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and turn the dates so the bacon crisps evenly.  Bake for another 5 to 8 minutes and check for crispness.  If they are all evenly crisp, remove from oven and place on a paper towel for 5 minutes, then serve and watch them disappear!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How To Properly Wash Towels

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I am in need of new towels and will soon be replacing my old ones with nice quality towels.  Since good quality towels are expensive and an investment, I want to keep them in good condition for as many years as possible.  This led me to do some research on how to properly care for towels and I discovered the following tips:
  • Wash white towels in very hot water and colored towels in cold water with about 1/2 the amount of laundry detergent that you would  normally use.  Too much detergent can make your towels stiff;
  • If you like to bleach your towels, use only non-chlorine bleach as chlorine will damage the fibres;
  • Place 1/2 cup of vinegar in the wash to remove soap buildup and keep your towels fluffy;
  • Avoid using dryer sheets because they coat towels with a waxy residue that affects how towels absorb water.  You can use a dryer ball instead;
  • Ensure that you dry the towels immediately after being washed so that they don't develop a mildew odor.
I can't wait to buy my new towels and try out these tips.
I think I will get white ones as they feel spa like and can easily be bleached, if necessary.