The spice cabinet is one of the areas in my home that I struggle to keep neat and organized. I think it’s because I use it while I’m busy cooking and don’t have time to carefully put the jar back in its rightful spot. Dinner is cooking, after all! So every now and then, I just have to make time to clean up this space in my kitchen cabinet.Continue reading “One Of the Most Difficult Places To Keep Neat!”
Last week on Instagram I saw Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) do a reel showing how she stocked her refrigerator. She started with a fridge that clean and empty. Then she added all new, unopened grocery items –
- Bottles of water
- Piles of fresh lemons and limes
- Cheeses of every kind
- Several kinds of meats
- Deli meats
- Veggies of all sorts, all washed and wrapped
- Freshly roasted chicken
- Homemade soups and hummus
- And lots more
It was pretty incredible to view the video, but as I watched, I wondered what “regular person” could really purchase all that so they could end up with that lovely, satisfying result? What do you think? Could the average person fill their fridge like that all at one time? I don’t think very many would be able to follow her example.
But I have some good news! I have a few ideas for you today to help your fridge be as organized and lovely inside as Ree’s – and it will cost you nothing extra!
Since we’ve just come through the holidays, perhaps your fridge is nearly bare. Great! Or maybe it’s still full of little leftover containers of this and that. That’s okay.
- Start by emptying the shelves one at a time. Analyze each food item as to whether it should stay or go. Check the expiration dates and pitch anything out that’s old.
- Once the shelf is empty, wipe it down with hot, soapy water. Then begin to put the items for that shelf back in.
- Keep like items together – condiments, salad dressings, sauces, dairy itms, etc.
- Place each item with labels facing out so it looks uniform.
I like using vinyl placemats in my fridge because it makes it easy to wash. I plunge them into the hot, soapy water, then dry them and put them back in their spot! You’ll notice the turquoise ones in the picture below.
I like putting my blueberries and strawberries into Mason jars (after the berries have been washed). They stay fresh SO much longer that way! You’ll see the jar in the left drawer below. They also look pretty displayed in the fridge that way! Mason jars are also great for leftovers!
I try to keep all the leftover containers together on one shelf, that way nothing gets forgotten, and it keeps the fridge from getting cluttered up with little dishes.
Start the new year with a fresh start in your kitchen by taking what you have and getting it clean and organized. You’ll be inspired to keep it that way. There’s something very satisfying about opening up a freshly straightened up space – especially something as big and important as the refrigerator!
Is your fridge full or empty now that the holidays are past?
I pray that your Thanksgiving was a blessing! We had a wonderful time together as a family. The food everyone prepared was delicious. The fellowship was sweet. The memories made were priceless. Oh, and dessert was amazing!
It was a huge blessing to have help with the meal. My girls are both great cooks, and they made incredible contributions to our meal! That took off a lot of prep on my part as the hostess.
I did a couple of new things for this meal that I want to mark and remember for future gatherings centered on food. I hope they’ll be tips you can utilize as well!
- Gravy ~ Gravy is often difficult! I find it getting lumpy or being too thick! If you ever struggle with making gravy, you’re going to love this first tip! Is it just the south, or is it everywhere that gravy is really important? Without gravy, turkey can be a bit bland and sometimes dry. Mashed potatoes need gravy like peanut butter needs jelly! Even biscuits are better dipped in a little puddle of gravy! Maybe I didn’t need to convince you how important gravy is, but now that we have that settled, let me share my little hack I learned.
It’s all about making a gravy base ahead of time. I saw a video on Instagram by a chef from King Arthur Flour that suggested this method to make your holiday meal come together so much easier. Usually the gravy is made at the very last minute of the meal prep, and it can be stressful! Using their method, I made the gravy base on Tuesday! All I needed to do on Thanksgiving Day was add the turkey drippings to the base and whisk it together to produce a quart of gravy . Here’s how I made it.
- 4 Tbl butter
- 1/2 Cup flour
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour slowly and incorporate it into the butter. It will be very thick. Slowly add the chicken stock and whisk constantly until all stock is added and the base is smooth. Turn to low and cook 25 minutes. Do not season. Stir occasionally.
Store in fridge. I froze mine, then thawed it out the morning I needed it.
To make the gravy – Add the base to pan drippings. Whisk to keep it smooth. Skim off fat. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
When I added the base, I was worried that it was going to clump, maybe because I froze it, but it did not! It was so easy! I will definitely do this from now on!! You could also use this method for roast by using beef stock!
- Half-sized desserts – The other hack I tried was with making smaller desserts. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes, asking why you’d want to make less dessert! Read on…
I love to make what everyone enjoys, but I also don’t want to have an abundance left over. One son-in-law loves the Pumpkin Crunch Cake and the other loves Pumpkin Pie, but we were also having Pumpkin Cheesecake and Kentucky Derby Pie!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake is basically a pumpkin pie filling on the bottom, with a cake mixture on top. But since the cake makes a 9 x 13 pan – and the pie would fill a 10 inch pie plate, I knew it would be more than we would eat. The solution? Divide the pumpkin filling and make two small desserts. Here’s how I did it.
I made up the base (pumpkin filling) for the cake and used half of it for a small pie. This is a 7-8 inch pan…
I poured the other half of the pumpkin mixture into a square pan for the cake, then I used half of a cake mix for the top of the Crunch Cake.
Both of those pumpkin desserts were gone by the time the weekend was over! That worked out beautifully!
It can be scary to change a recipe and try something that you think will work. I made one other change and that was to reduce the amount of sugar in the Crunch cake. It calls for 1 1/2 cups, but I noticed that a pumpkin pie recipe only requires 3/4 cup, so I decided to go with the lesser amount and it wasn’t even detectable! It was perfectly sweet! I’m sure the sweetened whipped cream might have also helped!
Whenever I find little hacks that helped, I try to write them at the front of a frequently used cookbook or in a binder that I use all the time in the kitchen. When I make any alterations to a recipe, I write it on the recipe card or in the book I’m using.
Did you implement any hacks while preparing Thanksgiving dinner?
I would also love to know if anyone struggles with making gravy?
Last month I began this series of Easy Does It. These are just tips and helpful ideas that have simplified my life and I think they’ll do the same for you!
This edition are all things regarding the kitchen. Who couldn’t use a little simplification there?!
- Paper products can roll out easier with this tip – The first tip is regarding the rolls of plastic wrap, waxed paper and foil that you probably use on a daily basis. Did you know there’s a built-in way to keep that roll from falling out of the box when you’re trying to pull off a piece? There is! I learned this little tip just a few years ago. I wondered if I’m the only one who hadn’t known about this!
At the end of each box, you’ll see the lock tabs. Simply push them in. They will go into the cardboard roll and hold it in place. No more foil rolling across the kitchen floor!
2. Skinning Tomatoes is a snap – If you have tomatoes to can or freeze as spaghetti sauce of salsa, there’s a super easy way to skin them and to do a huge batch at one time! Simply put them on a baking sheet after they’ve been washed and dried. Then place them under a broiler for about 4-5 minutes or until the skins begin to wrinkle. Remove from the oven and the skin will pull off when you pinch it between your fingers. Let them cool slightly so you can touch them. This was such a help to me recently when I canned salsa!
3. Preserving Bananas for baking is a cinch – We love all things banana at our house! Baked oatmeal with bananas, Banana Bread or this Banana Cake are delicious examples! But these recipes all even better with over-ripe bananas. They’re so sweet! Because I can’t always keep them on hand, I go to the produce section of our grocery store and head to the reduced produce section. They have the “ugly bananas” wrapped together or in a bag for sale at a reduced price. I take them home, peel them and place two bananas into small Ziplock bags and toss them into the freezer. When I’m ready to make one of my banana recipes, I thaw it in the microwave and I’m ready to bake!
4. Freezing Popped Popcorn is genius – My favorite nighttime snack is popcorn. We recently found Smart Food Popcorn at the grocery store and fell in love with its White Cheddar flavor. It’s absolutely additive in my opinion! (If you haven’t had it, you must try it!) One day while walking through Sam’s Club we found a giant bag for nearly the same price we were paying for half that size at the grocery store!
But even with our love for it, it would go stale once the bag was opened. Then I discovered you can freeze it! The popcorn never actually freezes, it just keeps out the moisture so it stays fresh. We can go get a bag out of the freezer and pour it into our bowl and eat it immediately! It’s as fresh as when we opened the bag!
I hope these simple tips will help things to roll a little easier in your kitchen! (Pun intended!) Tell me: Did you know about the lock tab on the foil and plastic wrap boxes?
What’s your best tip for simplifying life in the kitchen?
Have a wonderful weekend and be refreshed by being under the preaching of God’s Word!
I knew a woman who hated to cook, and one day after spending time with her in her kitchen, it was made clear to me one reason she disliked this duty – her kitchen turned into a war zone while she was working. Then after the meal was over, she had to go back into the destruction and spend lots of time cleaning, organizing and putting things away. Continue reading “6 Tips for Keeping a Clean Kitchen While Cooking”