Ask Me Anything: Kitchen Towels, Home Chef, Stubborn Stickers, Chromebook, Floor Cleaner

It doesn’t happen often, but now and then I’ll get a message from someone who must be having a particularly bad day, like the fellow who wrote this past week accusing me of making up letters, messages and questions on the days I invite you to ask me anything. Oh, my. I only wish I could show him my inbox!

Why doesn’t anyone make a dish towel that actually dries dishes? I’ve purchased all kinds over the years—100% cotton, flour sack, waffle weave, whatever. What’s your recommendation? Jeri

I can so identify because I asked that same question for a long time, too. Then I discovered “bar mops,” which are inexpensive, smallish, highly-absorbent, white terrycloth towels used in restaurants and bars. I buy them by the dozen and use them like many people use paper towels in the kitchen—for everything: wiping spills, as dishcloths and drying towels, too. I keep a small hamper next to the trash can where I toss them in to be laundered. I have at least six dozen in rotation at any given time. I do use liquid bleach in the lalundry to keep them as stain-free. They don’t last forever, but for a long time! And when they get worn out or permanently stained, into the rag bag they go, destined for use in the garage and for housecleaning.  Linteum Bar Mops Kitchen Towels are the best quality (about $20 for two dozen). Costco sells something quite similar—100% cotton towels in a 52-pack for about $12. Look for them in the automotive aisle. Be sure to wash and dry new bar mops before the first use (they’ll arrive thin and stiff, but will come out soft and fluffy) and never use any kind of softening products with towels—kitchen, bath or otherwise. That can make them non-absorbent.

We gave Home Chef a try. It was delivered fine and fresh. We ordered Steak au Poivre and it was a delicious meal! But then we looked at the nutrition section. Sodium was 1253 mg per serving and calories 794. Isn’t that unreasonably high?! Arlen and Diane

I am not a nutritionist or physician, so I can’t really advise on that, specifically. However, what I love about Home Chef is I am the cook. The meal kit comes complete with everything needed except for cooking oil, salt and pepper—I supply those three items. The recipe may call for 1/2 teaspoon of salt but it’s up to me how much I use. I can go more or less than the recipe specifies—or leave it out altogether. Each week Home Chef subscribers get an email message with meal choices—complete with nutritional information. I suggest you study this carefully before you place an order. There are always options that come in under 500 calories per serving with lower sodium, fat, carbs and so forth, so study your choices carefully. Home Chef is quite amazing both in cost and quality. My husband and I enjoy at least two HC meals every week (and we can skip or put the whole thing on hold anytime, too, which we do when we travel). Here’s a $30 coupon for anyone who would like to give Home Chef a test drive.

What is the best inexpensive Chromebook laptop computer? Vicki

Chromebook continues to be a mind-blowing option when it comes to laptop computers. My choice as of today (things change so quickly in the world of computers) is the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02, which comes with an Intel Celeron Processor, 4 GB ram, 16 GB flash storage and up to 10 hours of battery life! While this sweet thing is designed to be rugged enough for student and classroom use, it’s ideal for home use as well. And it’s so compact; easily portable in handbag or backpack. For the money, this Chromebook is hard to beat. About $200.

How can I remove annoying price stickers without damaging the items they’re stuck to or leaving a tale-tell mark? Drives me nuts. Dave

As long as the item is not made of fabric or paper, hit it with a spritz or two of cooking spray. Or any kind of vegetable oil. Let it sit for a bit, and it should work off easily. I just did this with a can of room freshener for my guest bath. The spray can is elegant (thank you Home Goods), but that extra-large ugly price tag was stuck on for all eternity! Cooking spray softened it up in less than an hour, and it came right off.

I would like the directions for the solution to clean hardwood floors that doesn’t contain vinegar. I enjoy your column in The Flint Journal on Sundays. Marian

As you probably know, because you mentioned it, vinegar is highly acidic and overtime can dull the finish on floors—both hardwood and laminate.

Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner: One part alcohol (rubbing alcohol is cheap and available in any supermarket or drug store) to four parts distilled water (to preclude hard water marks) plus 3 or 4 drops blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Mix this up in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors. Or if you make it up ahead. Just be sure to label it well and keep it out of the reach of children.

To use: Sweep or vacuum the floor. Spray the cleaner in a small area, scrub well with a cloth or sponge and immediately wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth. The secret is to spray, scrub and wipe dry immediately. If you do not want to do this on your hands and knees, I recommend this Hardwood Floor Spray Mop for both wood and laminate floors. It sprays the cleaner from its removable bottle, a large surface mop with and even bigger detachable microfiber cleaning pad that swivels for really easy handling. This mop makes scrubbing wood and laminate floors a breeze.

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