Thursday, January 9, 2014

Always use protection

 My husband was pretty sad I kept burning my wrists with grease splatters, so he picked me up some multi sized splatter guards.

These two bad boys (Brand: Mainstays, Size: 11" and 13") are available at Wal-Mart for $6.97. I have used them several times with grease bearing products (eggs, burgers, sausage, etc). The lightweight is great at an angle to stop the grease from hitting you while you stick a utensil in to flip or stir-fry. YAY! Intend use works!

. When I cook pasta sauce, I am always stuck as I have to cook it with the lid on and the vaporized water just goes back in to the sauce. I prefer my red sauce thicker, so I like to really cook out the water. The only way to do that is to cook it down with the lid off so the water vapor can escape, however, this has a ton of cleanup because tomato sauce will pop and snap all over the stove, counter, and my wrists.  I figured I'd give this a try as a new use, and it never specifically said "grease" splatter guard, so the theory is sound.

Since the pot I was using was so small, I had to carefully balance the guard, otherwise, the handle threw the weight off and it tipped.

A little while later, I hear it start to boil and I'm investigating progress.

Ooooh, first glance, looks like mission accomplished! Let's get a little closer and see what we can see!

 BOO! The counters don't look any better than if I would have left it uncovered completely, except for that odd shaped shadow on the second picture. We all know what it looks like.  This really deflates my balloons, kids. I was 100% satisfied with this gadgetry expenditure when I only used it for what I bought it for: grease. Unfortunately, because it was advertised as a universal splatter guard, it definitely failed the universal use test. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. $6.97  is worth it for the grease pans, they are very easy to store and clean. If you do a lot of pan frying, I would suggest picking up this set and you can find a home for it even in the most cramped of kitchens.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it's in my kitchen.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Purge

I purged (most) of my cupboards to get an idea of what I was working with.

This is just the plastics section. I have a hoarding habit with saving containers (note the peanut jar...I can't even tell you the last time I bought peanuts). Summoning all my knowledge learned from marathoning seasons of Hoarders, I discarded any container that didn't have a lid (or lid that didn't have a container) and also those reused cocoa containers. I also own an unbelievable amount of Jello molds for someone who finds the whole concept of Jello disgusting. The way it wiggles and jiggles down my throat ::shudder:: But I digress. I also discovered I own not one, not two, but SIX flexible cutting boards (and unfortunately, zero real cutting boards).

Here's the utensils drawer, baking shelf, and prep cook shelf: 

The baking and decorating items to the left are those dearly loved inherited items. I have a mandolin slicer and a slap chop. Also, there is an empty honey container that I have no idea why I decided to keep (that got tossed, silly old bear). And yes, that is a bar set on the back right. That's going to be a challenge because we aren't much for drinking at home.

And, finally, the single purpose appliances and the pink family [not pictured: the counter top roaster for birds up to 25lbs and the toaster oven]

Some of these I use often, like the crock pot and coffee pot. I'll have to think up new uses for them. I haven't used the donut maker in well over a year and a half. And yes, that is an Easy Bake oven. While it's JT's and not mine, he does ask to use it way more often than we actually do. Be prepared for tiny little cakes as well.

There are two other cupboards I haven't emptied yet. It was exhausting just going through what I did. I'll post those later.

So, my faithful readers, what would you like to see me use first? If there's anything that looks interesting but you can't tell what it is, ask me and I'll let you know!

And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is what's in my kitchen.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It all started with an overflowing cupboard.

My kitchen...a far improvement from the 2.5 foot wide, 4 foot long galley kitchen in my husband and I's first apartment. Imagine opening a fridge from the side because there simply wasn't room to stand in front of the fridge and swing the door open. I had a grand total of 4 square feet of counter space. My stand mixer was a $40 clearance Sunbeam special my husband had to go back to the store and buy because I wouldn't spend the money on myself. When your kitchen storage space is limited, it's awful easy not to buy gadgetry when you have no where to store it, let alone use it.

In those 3 years, we've moved to a house and I have a substantially better job (which so happens to include a substantial discount on already low priced home goods). With both those changes, I suddenly had the space and budget to indulge in those single use gadgets that Alton Brown views so unfavorably. One year for Christmas, everyone seemed to be in tune and all my presents were BabyCakes mini appliances. I also inherited an extensive collection of baking gear from a piece of my heart who's no longer with us that I have just recently been emotionally able to touch, let alone use.

My cupboards runneth over and with this, a challenge: Use everything at least once this year. This includes every pot, pan, utensil, gadget, and appliance. If it's something I use often (like my beloved powder pink Artsian Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer) I must use all attachments, and I must use it for something I've never made before. I will review the product, try and remember where I bought it and how much it was (I'll always list retail price rather than after my employee discount), and if knowing what I know now, I would buy it again. Some of these blogs will be really fun to write. Some will be bittersweet (e.g. the inherited items). All will come from my heart. So I invite you to join me on this journey. Hold my hand, we'll make it I swear.