Friday, March 22, 2013

The Joys of Cooking - Clean As You Go

Earlier this week, I shared with you how the Whole30 has reignited my passion for cooking.  I know that cooking can be intimidating for some, and have decided to do a series on cooking and how fun and easy it can be.  I know, I know, I can already hear some of you groaning.  Believe me I am a modern woman, and I by no means think a woman's place is in the kitchen.  In fact if you can find a man to cook then more power to you.  On a side note, this reminds me of a chef I used to work with at Disney.  His wife told him that she married him because the sex may fade, but you always will need to eat.  Since we are not all lucky enough to marry chefs, and we all need to eat we might as well know how to fend for ourselves in the kitchen.

I think that part of the reason why I used to hate cooking was because of how messy it was and how many dishes were always left in the sink.  The last thing I want to do after a day of cooking is clean up a bunch of dishes.  However, I picked up on a neat little trick, which really is not a trick, and probably common sense to most people.  Are you ready for it?  Clean up your mess as you go!  I know your world was probably just shaken to the core by that profound statement.

Now I know you may be wondering to yourself, "How do I do that?"  Well here are some of my tips and tricks to keeping a clean kitchen while you cook:

  1. Use a trash bag - This a tip that I picked up from Rachel Ray.  She always uses a trash bowl, but I went one step further and use a bag.  I tend to use the little plastic bags that your produce comes in from the grocery store.  While I am prepping, cutting, and cooking it sits on the counter and I throw all of my trash in it.  Then when I am done I just knot it up and throw it in my big trash can.  I find this to be a great time saver too because I am not constantly making trips to the trash can, and it helps to keep my cutting board/counter free of trash and clutter.
  2. Use wipes to clean your counters - Each time you are done with a task (or if you spill something) just pull out a cleaning wipe and wipe down the counter, and then throw your wipe into your trash bag.  This keeps your counters clean, and it's just easier to wipe as you go.  You do not have to worry about scrubbing layers of sticky, random cooking juices later.  I personally do not like using sponges to wipe counters with because they tend to spread bacteria and germs, but if you must then you can use a sponge.  Here is an extra money saving tip:  When you are out of cleaning wipes do not throw your container away if there is still liquid in the bottom.  Instead dip a paper towel in it and wring it out to create your own wipes.  This will help to stretch your dollar a little.
  3. Rinse your dirty dishes immediately - Rinsing the dishes while they are still a little warm will help to keep residual food from sticking to your pots and pans.
  4. Load your dishwasher as you go - I always like to cook with an empty dishwasher, especially when I do a cooking day.  That way I can just load the dishwasher as I go.  It is so much quicker plus you are not struck with the dread of seeing a sink full of dishes at the end of the day.  
  5. Put your hand-wash dishes in the sink with care - I know this sounds a little weird, but bare with me here. Instead of piling all your hand-wash dishes in the sink nilly-willy place them in the order you plan to wash them.  This way you are not pulling things from the bottom, and everything else is crashing down into the sink below.  Trust me, your dishes will thank you, and you will keep from breaking things this way.  
Once again, none of this is rocket science, but hopefully you learned something new or came away with a useful tip.  I really have found that cleaning as I go has made my cooking much more fun and relaxing.  Next week I am going to tell you how the internet can make you a better cook!

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