Here it is...my second post "from the road". After surviving three days in Orlando. Yes, I said "surviving". I have made it to the East coast of Florida. Disney World is beautiful and magical and fun, but it is anything but relaxing to navigate two small children though the throngs of Spring Breakers in the Magic Kingdom. So, here I sit on the lanai(I've never actually typed that word before, but according to all of those Golden Girls re-runs, that's exactly where I'm sitting). I'm watching the sun set through the palm trees as I prepare to hit "Publish" on this post. This afternoon we visited the National Seashore. Gorgeous. It's been three years since I saw the ocean. Far too long. The farthest thing from my mind today: Spring cleaning! However, I typed these posts before I left for vacation and this one is up. So here you go...
Because this blog revolves around the happenings in my kitchen, I'll share what I do in there about twice a year and whenever it's needed in between. I promise to start sharing recipes again as soon as I get home and unpacked! So, Spring cleaning. I take everything out of my drawers, cupboards, and pantry. While everything is out, I wipe down the drawers and cupboards (inside and out) and then put everything back in an organized fashion. This is a great time to throw away expired goods from the pantry. I also clean behind and under the appliances and wipe down base boards. Haven't cleaned your coffee maker in a bit? This is a good time for that too. Take it apart as best you can and clean that baby!
In the rest of this post, I'll walk you through how I clean my fridge and microwave. These aren't just Spring cleaning tasks in my house, however if you've got Spring cleaning on the brain and a sticky substance hanging out on the shelves of your refrigerator or pizza grease on the ceiling of your microwave, then this is as good a time as any. Consider it a friendly reminder from yours truly. : )
I clean my refrigerator on this loosely based schedule:
1) Before every trip to the grocery, I go through the fridge and pitch any expired goods and leftovers that have been in there for more than 3 days. If I'm purchasing more of any item that is still in my fridge like yogurt,eggs, milk, or cheese, I move the existing products to the front. When I return home with my groceries I put the new version of these products behind the existing ones. This is the FIFO principle. First In, First Out. I wipe up any crumbs, stickies, or film left on the shelves.
2) Clean up spills as they happen.
3) Every other month, I take everything out and really clean the whole thing. Hey, you probably clean your toilet every week, and you don't eat out of that, right? If I think about it that way, every other month really isn't asking much.
Step #3 brings me to this step-by-step refrigerator cleaning tutorial. No one loves to do this. I know, it's a pain. We're all busy. Who wants to take the time to stop and clean the fridge? But I promise, this won't take more than an hour of your valuable time.
So first, you have to take everything out of your refrigerator.
I mean EVERYTHING.
I keep a trash bag handy to throw all of the expired items away.
Once the fridge is empty take out every part that you can pull out. All of the shelves and drawers, if possible. Wash them with hot soapy water and dry.
Wipe down the whole inside of the refrigerator; any shelves that don't come out, the sides, and especially the bottom.
Looks good, right?
But wait...we're not finished yet. You've got to clean out the door too. Take everything out of the door.
Even the shelves, if possible.
Now you're ready to put everything back. Here are some tips from www.helpwithcooking.com for organizing your food on the shelves of your refrigerator.
*Keep similar foods together on the same shelf, so you know where to look for them.
Store small items, yogurt, butter, cheese, dips, small desserts and snacks at eye level.
*Place any cooked foods and leftover dishes above raw meat, poultry or seafood.
*Store all raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood products on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Leave these products in their original packaging and also place inside a plastic bag to prevent any leaking juices dripping on other foods.
*Store fruit and vegetables separately. Vegetables should be stored in the warmest part of the refrigerator (bottom drawers), as they require a storage temperature of about 50°F.
*Do not store eggs in the egg trays on the inside of the refrigerator door. The temperature here is higher than other parts of the fridge and fluctuates with frequent door opening. Keep eggs in their original carton and place near the top of the fridge.
*Store fruit drinks, bottled drinks, products in jars, sauces, condiments and generally products with a longer shelf life on the shelves and in the compartments on the inside of the refrigerator door.
*Make sure that all bottles and jars are closed and that all opened products are tightly wrapped in cling film or aluminum foil in order to prevent the food from drying out, spoiling or passing on odors to other foods.
In case you're wondering the best temperature setting for your refrigerator: it's between 35 and 38 degrees Farenheit. The "Danger Zone"(The temperature range in which foodborne bacteria can grow) is between 40 and 140 degrees Farenheit. Of course, if you set the temperature of your refrigerator lower than 32 degrees, your food will freeze. So, shoot for between 35 and 38 degrees.
See, doesn't that feel better? Clean fridge. Love it.
Since our cleaning juices are flowing and we're already standing in the kitchen with pruney hands, let tackle the microwave.
My first step is to clear the clutter off of the top. Mine seems to collect cookbooks, recipes, and meal planning notes.
Now, I take out the revolving tray.
Wash it in the sink.
I always clean my microwave according to the Big Book of Hints from Heloise. This 842 page book covers everything from microwave cleaning to camping with children. I received it as a graduation gift. Let me tell ya, it's the gift that keeps on giving. Need to exterminate weevils? Consult Heloise. Have a funky odor in your garbage disposal? Just check with Heloise. She's got the answer! I have to say that the microwave cleaning method is both easy and effective. All you need are two tablespoons of lemon juice or baking soda and a cup of water. Mix them in a microwave safe 4 cup bowl. Now, let the mixture boil in the microwave for about 5 minutes so that the steam condenses on the walls.
Any "nastyness" will easily wipe away now. No scrubbing required!
Ah...clean, clean, clean!
So what do you all do for Spring cleaning? Any tips?